Introduction to Fiction

Fiction can be as short as a few lines or as long as a novel. It can be fantastic, or it can be realistic. But whatever its shape or size, the same essential parts are at work to make it a story.

In this introductory course, we will examine key elements of fiction: beginnings and endings, character, setting, plot and theme, transitions, and structure. We will also explore ways to tap into our most valuable assets: language and its power to tell a story that both entertains and convinces.

This course is available at the following time(s) and location(s):

Campus Session(s) Instructor(s) Cost Seats available  
Online - Joan B. Flood $325.50 0 Join Waitlist

Instructional hours: 12

Schedule clarification: This course begins on the first date listed and ends six days after the last date listed. Between those times, you work at your own pace within the timelines set by the instructor.

Course schedule

  • Session 1: Introductions to forms and genres of fiction. Which is yours?
  • Session 2: The elements of fiction and how to identify them.
  • Session 3: Beginnings and the importance of opening lines. We'll also compare a plot map to a short story.
  • Session 4: Character, including point of view and character types.
  • Session 5: The importance of dialogue as well as what is unsaid.
  • Session 6: The language of writing, including the five senses, theme and tense, style and era.

What will you learn?

By the end of the course, you will be able to do the following:

  • Identify the elements of fiction and apply them to your own work
  • Breathe life into your writing through use of texture, depth and imagery
  • Create realistic characters and dialogue
  • Give and receive supportive feedback

How will you learn?

  • Course content will be accessed via SFU’s online course management system, Canvas.
  • You will complete biweekly assignments.
  • Your instructor will provide comments and suggestions on each piece that you write.
  • Your classmates will divide into smaller groups of writers, who will provide additional feedback to one another.

How will you be evaluated?

A pass/fail grade will be based on your participation and assignments.

Textbooks and learning materials

The following textbook is required for this course. You may purchase it from the SFU Bookstore or from your preferred local or online bookstore.

Hodgins, Jack. A Passion for Narrative: A Guide for Writing Fiction, Revised Edition. McClelland & Stewart, ISBN - 10: 0771041985, ISBN - 13: 9780771041983.

Hardware and software requirements 

We deliver this course using SFU's online course management system, Canvas. You will receive course details and Canvas access instructions on the first day of the course. You can check if your browser is compatible with Canvas here.

New to online learning? See About Online Learning for helpful videos and additional information.

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