Fiction is writing that includes imaginary characters, events and/or settings created by the writer. All of the components of a fictitious story do not necessarily need to be fictitious though:

  • Imaginary characters might be set in a real world setting such as a well known city or a particular country.
  • Characters might be fictitious, but set in a “real” event. For example, you might write about the experiences of a fictitious character during World War II.
  • Real characters may be used for a fictitious story that embraces an imaginary event or setting (eg. a story about William Shakespeare travelling through time; or something more realistic, like a summer’s holiday at a fictitious beach resort, taken by a famous historical figure such as Mozart).
  • Two Types of Fiction

    There are traditionally two types of fiction:


    Also referred to as ‘genre’, these stories have a distinct theme and as such are easy to categorise. Examples of category or genre fiction are science fiction, westerns, adventure, historical, romance, erotica, mystery, suspense, fantasy and war stories.


    These stories are aimed at the widest possible audience. They typically deal with most aspects of modern life including relationships, careers, and the search for success and fulfilment. Popular mainstream writers include Jeffrey Archer, Jackie Collins, Colleen McCullough and James Michener.


    Fiction Writing Online Course (100 hours)

    There are eight lessons in this module as follows:

    1. Scope & Nature of Fiction
    2. Components of a Story – beginning, middle and end
    3. Technique
      • The Creative Process–conception, developing a plot
      • Writing a Draft
      • Editing and rewriting
      • Method Writing
    4. Conception and Research
    5. Drama
    6. Fantasy
    7. The Short Story
    8. The Novel
    To explain the nature and scope of fiction writing
    To identify the components of a fiction story
    To apply different techniques in order to conceive a fiction story
    To apply a systematic approach to developing a story
    To review and edit completed work in order to improve a manuscript
    To plan and undertake research for use in a fiction story
    To develop different types of fiction stories including fiction, fantasy and short stories.
    To plan a novel
    To describe the way in which a manuscript should be presented to a publisher

    One aspect of this course involves both factual information geared to developing an understanding of processes.
    Another major part of this course involves you undertaking practical tasks of writing pieces of your own fiction; and analyzing the writing of other authors.
    Through interaction and feedback from tutors, you have the opportunity for very personalised guidance from your tutor, who themselves is an experienced professional writer.
    This is a course where you learn by doing things, receiving feedback from tutors, and in the light of that feedback, improving the way you write.

    Here are examples of things you will do in this course:
    • Analyze a short story to categorize the work, determine how the theme was developed, and to identify characteristics of that story such as the plot, the background, the protagonist, antagonist and the motivating factor.
    • Prepare plans for various types of stories
    • Define a variety of terms that are relevant to fiction writing
    • Analyze writing by different fiction authors identifying differences in style and approach; tone, consciousness, grammar, preciseness etc.
    • Develop themes for different types of stories including suspense, mystery, fantasy and science fiction
    • Apply a systematic approach to develop a story concept
    • Undertake research into a location to be used as a setting for a fiction story.
    • Conceive a variety of different ideas for stories.
    • Compare examples of work by different science fiction writers
    • Systematically develop a fiction short story based upon a real life event.
    • Research publishers to determine those which might be more appropriate for publishing fiction novels by a new author.
    • Plan a fiction novel and write the first chapter.

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    Fictional stories may be conceived in many different ways, for example:

    • Based on observations of real life
      Some writers use the setting of a real life event (such as a war, a major catastrophe, or a political situation) as a setting. Starting from this point, they conceive fictional characters appropriate to that setting. With the characters and setting in place, it becomes easier to conceive events to write about. If you can imagine a problem or crisis which might occur in the defined setting, involving the defined character(s), you have a starting point for building a story.
    • Start with a fantasy setting
      Imagine a world that is not real; perhaps in a different place, or a different time. 
      You are establishing a setting. This setting could be similar to, or very far away, from reality. Once the setting is established, you may choose to next establish the situation. It may be that this “world” is facing a crisis or problem. 
      The next stage would be to conceive a character who will become involved with the problem/crisis; and having conceived that character to define the character.
      Other characters can then, in turn, be defined  
    • Retell old stories, such as fairy tales, in a modern setting.
      *Imagine “out of the ordinary” situations; and the repercussions that might arise, eg. imagine that you inadvertently caught the wrong train, bus or plane; or imagine one of your possessions (a coat, bag, car etc) was confused with someone else’s, and they took yours, and you took theirs.
    • Spontaneously write an opening sentence or paragraph to introduce a setting, a character or an event.
    • Write down what you can remember of a dream you had, and build a story from there; describing the setting first, then the characters, then the events.

    Parts of Conception

    There are three general parts in the conception of any story. You can vary the way you adhere to these parts.

    1. Introduce a major or central character and define the current situation.
      Start the story at a point where the current situation is about to change.
      The central character is faced with a challenge or crisis, brought about by the changed situation.
    2. By attempting to change the situation, the character reveals the good and/or bad in their own character and a sequence of different events unfold.
    3. Eventually the problem is solved or crisis comes to a conclusion.

    Make your Conception Original

    A serious danger for new writers is to write in clichés. To be successful your writing needs to be both familiar and different. Ideally write about something familiar, but make it appear in a new light. 

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