“Start Writing Fiction” course: What I learned, what I hope

A great character is someone you can’t forget even if you tried to.

Dear all,

This an update and the conclusion of my adventure with the “Start Writing Fiction” course at FutureLearn. I can’t just say goodbye to the course without mentioning a few things.

I write this with the knowledge that I am just a student, a learner. I never wrote a book and it’s more than probable I will never publish my writing but I need to write down what I learned so I make sure “I understood” the things that I needed to understand about fiction writing. The things that resonate with me.

Which translates to.… if you seek advice on writing fiction, this post isn’t the one to read! But feel free to .. I appreciate that you take the time to.

I also decided to write down the things that I need to do something about in order to keep on writing – if I want to produce one finished concluded published work.


1. If you have no character, you can have no plot, no story. From your character, you will get to a story. If you think you have a story and you start writing, you are going round in circles if you haven’t established a character. Find someone, give them a name, a job, a reason to “exist”, flaws and conflicts and start. Even if it’s something completely vague and stupid. I have lots of stupid notes in my journal.

2. If you feel like adding elements into your story which you don’t feel like exploring, think twice. Is it because of a mystery you want to impart? Is there a reason why that element is there? Don’t be sibylline. Intriguing, yes. Confusing, no.

3. If you want your character do certain things and live in certain places, do it. By giving them a different location, you are changing elements of their characters. Which is okay for writing practice but you are not doing justice to your characters. This is just you, the writing process and the characters. Nobody’s watching.

4. Writing is combined with reading. Even if you can’t read a whole book in one week, read articles and excerpts of books. Devour words.

5. Observe people. Read people. Ask people. Predict actions, guess reactions. Write and delete. Deletions mean something.

6. Read your favourite writers and articles related to your job, to the country you live, to the food you like (or hate?). The other day, I read the preface of a book that opened a new door for me. It was just the preface of a book!


I identify two problems that interfere with my writing process. First is that I have three-four characters in my mind which are gradually evolving and I can’t focus on one story to write.

I try not to get confused and I use my writing journal to see if one character will eventually stand out.

I am asking myself:

– Which is the character that “knocks on my door” more often?

– Which is the character I know a little more about?

– Which is the character I think I see in one of the people I know from real life (including myself?)

Problem n. 2 is that prior to taking the fiction course, I was writing an ebook (non fiction) and now that I took the course, I started looking at that project from a different angle. I am thinking if I could change the writing style and narration into something part-fiction, part-handbook but I am a little muddled.

I will find a solution. I mean, I do hope to find one!

A presto,



Character in a box

A fictional character can be like a gift box. Surprise!


Dear all,

I managed to wrap up Week 5 (from a total of 8 which officially ends end of next week) of “Start Writing Fiction” course AND get a really encouraging and positive feedback about the character I created. I was expecting that my fellow writers would be “honest” and tell me “hm, this wasn’t exactly a character sketch, sorry” but no, they liked Eva. Not the Eva from the “Volcano” story but Eva as a character of another story. A story that I don’t know if I want to get into.

Now into Week 6, there’s so much to absorb, to learn, a lot of precious guidance that I feel privileged to have access to.

The reason I wanted to write this quick post is to share with you how I came up with the job of “maker of boxes” for a new character.

Maker of boxes.

Why did this idea pop up?

When you start writing or, let me rephrase that, when the writing happens mentally inside your head after you wrote a paragraph about a woman who at the moment means nothing to you, ideas from outer space or from the past just slide in.

Which translates to...a bit of a surprise.

Some years ago, while taking a stroll, I passed by a crafts shop. Something in that shop’s window engaged my curiosity. Superbly decorated boxes of all sizes for wedding flavours and gifts or for decorative purposes. I never saw a similar shop and the whole thing stayed with me because when I returned home I took a shoe box and decorated it with red fabric and then added a lace across the rim. It looked fabulous!

As I was trying to have a little dialogue with myself, I figured that boxes provide a metaphor for my character’s personality traits. She is someone who wants to be able to neatly archive things and make sense of everything, who seeks perfection but who eventually realises she needs to live in the moment. At least, occasionally. Her job could be the “irony” of it all. Not only does she make boxes, she also decorates them.

I will see how it goes.

It’s just an exercise.

a presto,