Start Writing Fiction | Coursework

Here are some of my notes from the Start Writing Fiction online class. I completed this course alongside writing my first novel, so a lot of the links below are the beginning notes for my novel in progress!

Week 1 – Developing a Character

Week 2 – Ideas for a Story

Week 3 Assignment – Generate Something New & Read the Feedback

Week 4 – Writing Character

Week 5 – Challenging Expectations

[BONUS] Week 5 Assignment – Character Sketch & Read the Feedback

Week 6 – Building a New Character

Week 7 – Editing Your Story

Week 8 Assignment – 1000 Word Story

Meet the Main Characters HERE


Generate something new

Start Writing Fiction | Week 3

Note: this is an assignment I submitted for the online course, linked above. Read the feedback HERE.

Most classmates don’t know I exist, which is ok with me. I try to sit in the back of the classroom, so I can doodle or write poetry in a notebook that’s secretly covered up with my textbook. As a high school freshman, most of my classes are a lot of work and I don’t do homework for anything but English. I have a pain that fills the pit of my stomach just thinking about school, so I reach for an empty notebook on the bottom of my bedroom bookshelf.

As I peel open the cover of the notebook, a photograph falls out. I pick it up off the floor and my eyes are instantly teary when I see Grandma and Grandpa posing on either side of meall dressed in our Easter best and I’m in a super poofy dress. It looks like I’m two years old in the photo, so I have no real memory of this time but I was with Grandma and Grandpa.

I have very little memory of them, but it feels like there is a hole in my life because they are not in it. Watching my mom’s life get turned upside-down when Grandma and Grandpa both tragically died in a car accident, is what my innocent five year old memory has been replaced with. Mom stopped going to college, she started drinking more, and she started dating a lot of different men.

I had a lot of alone time in my room, and when I was old enough to put words on paper I would scribble in my notebooks until bedtime. The stories that Grandma told me about her vacations around the world with Grandpa are the memories I tried to write about, and I would make stories about vacations around the world with imaginary friendsincluding Grandma and Grandpa. 

I held the picture up, and looked at it with no thought in mind except—this needs to be out so I can see it more. So I placed it on my vanity mirror. I don’t think you’ll see me in a poofy dress anytime soonI’ll stick to my comfy black sweatshirt and jeans. 

Read the feedback HERE

Meet the Main Characters HERE


Ideas for a story

Start Writing Fiction | Week 2

Note: this is an exercise for the online course, linked above.

Turn on the radio and take note of the first thing that is mentioned. Use it as the basis for either the start of a story or an entire story – whichever, it should be no more than 500 words. Imagine a character, someone who is central to what the story is about. Try to use clear, vivid language so that your reader can see the character. Use some of the characterization techniques:
-physical description
-thoughts and inner life
-where the character is located
-the character’s back story
-how the character acts in the world.

I look over at the bedside table and see his wedding ring standing by itself—the solo silver chain shackles that he slipped out of right before creeping into the hotel bed with me. My stomach was screaming mad for not sleeping in my own house—nothing about this felt normal.

I turn myself over in bed and peel the white sheet from my skin as I stand up. I pick my clothes up-off the floor, get dressed and throw my curly brown hair into a ponytail. Then I start to think: this man that made me feel comforted and safe — is not even here anymore! He went home to his wife. I am alone and need to get home.

I rush over to my clutch, that was thrown on the hotel desk, and pull my smartphone out. My blurry eyes don’t see many notifications — just a text from Mia at 9:02pm ‘goodnight, mom.’ My heart sunk down in my chest and I opened up a text to Ferdinand, my driver.

‘So sry, need ride home its sos but im ok” is what my fingers tapped in the keyboard, and I hit send. Then I grabbed Vinnie’s wedding ring off the bedside table and stuffed it in my jean pocket.

Within 20 minutes, my driver was at the hotel picking me up. Now this is a man who makes me feel comfortable and safe: Ferdinand — my man.

“So sorry for all the late night driving requests lately,” I mustered from the back seat once we were driving down the road. Clear of the hotel.

“It’s ok, Miss Mandy. I know you are trying to find a suitor, and as I would support your parents and drive them wherever and whenever they needed — I will do the same for you.” 

I felt a tear roll down my cheek. The streetlights outside were illuminated in the night sky and they seemed to be buzzing by faster and faster. I had to close my eyes, “I’m going to be sick,” I was able to say loud enough for Ferdinand to pull over so I could swing open the car door and stumble out far enough to puke on the side of the road.

Once I got home the feeling to puke was gone, but the feeling of regret was intense. I set everything on the kitchen island: my clutch, my phone, my book…his ring. Then I stumbled down the hall to Mia’s room.

Meet the Main Characters HERE


Start Writing Fiction

Start Writing Fiction

This 8-week long course is by The Open University on FutureLearn.com

As I embark on writing my first novel, it’s done alongside this course. In the first two weeks there has been opportunity to find my own writing space and journaling style. I am also learning from other writers, listening to other writers, and creating the confidence that is needed to write a book…among many other things!

Jenni Laplow – April 29, 2020

Completing the course was a challenge and accomplishment all rolled into one. I am happy to share some of my notes and assignments from the class that helped me make progress on my novel:

Start Writing Fiction | Coursework