Learn To Write Fiction

Hi everyone,

Last year I was super excited to facilitate a learning circle on writing fiction. The only problem was, I found out too late that the course wasn’t available during the times I needed it to be. So, I ended up creating my own online course, called Learn To Write Fiction, with the learning circle model in mind.


P2PU asked me to write a blog post about my adventures in course creation and facilitation of this crazy thing, and if you’re interested in creating your own course, or are just curious to see what I did, you might want to read it: Learn To Write Fiction: Creating My Own Online Course.

I don’t know that many others have facilitated it yet. If you have, I’d love to know how it went!

Here’s a summary of feedback from facilitators who ran a writing fiction learning circles, using either @Jordan_Draves’s https://learntowritefiction.net/ course or Future Learn’s Starting Writing Fiction course, both of which are featured on the P2PU Courses page.

Things that made a writing fiction learning circle better:

  • Use a projector to look through the short videos together (FutureLearn course)
  • Sit around circular tables instead of using a computer lab
  • Spend time during the first meeting to log in to course as a group (FutureLearn course)
  • Bring in someone from outside. At Chicago Public Library, they had someone involved in the publishing business come into the learning circle to answer questions. Many learners simply wanted a professional source to share their ideas and writing with.
  • When having learners read their work, be active in pushing others to talk about it, offer suggestions and talk about what they liked.
  • Ask learners to share their opinion on different themes, like discussing favorite genres, plot elements, conclusion, etc.
  • Be aware that people may not be comfortable to share or post work online as they fear someone will steal their ideas.
  • Activities: Something that’s super fun, after we get the initial introductions out of the way is to do small group writing. It works like this: Have each person in the group come up with one of the following: location, plot, characters. Then have everyone, as a group, write the first paragraph or two of a story. It gets people talking, gets them learning how others think and write, and can be a lot of fun. No one should take it seriously. There usually isn’t time to finish the story, but of course groups can finish it together outside of class if they want. @jordan_draves

Things I learned that could work for any learning circle:

  • Bring in snacks and candy to share if possible. “People can’t learn if they are hungry!”
  • Facilitators don’t need to be expert, but it does help if you are interested and enthusiastic about the topic
  • Use ice breakers and small activities to help everyone get to know each other. No need to do these activities after few weeks after the group is formed.
  • Focus on creating a positive, welcoming atmosphere and make sure to build in opportunities for people to connect with each other.


  • My learning circle wanted to keep learning together! They were even mad that their learning circle had to end! So, I set up a meeting room for them to meet regularly, and they continued to meet over the summer without my involvement or a course to follow. - Patrice Johnson from Chicago Public Library
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Jordan’s experience was recently highlighted in an online magazine called The Writing Platform - check it out here: http://thewritingplatform.com/2019/01/online-learning-offline-fiction-writing-learning-circles-at-boston-public-library/