Start writing fiction: characters and stories
Start writing fiction: characters and stories

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Start writing fiction: characters and stories

4.3 Hooked by lines and images

Download this video clip.Video player: ou_futurelearn_fiction_vid_1019.mp4
Skip transcript


Sometimes your subject will suggest itself to you through a line that simply emerges in your consciousness as being in some way significant. Raymond Carver described how the single sentence: ‘He was running the vacuum cleaner when the telephone rang.’ gave him the idea for a story:‘I knew a story was there and that it wanted telling. I felt it in my bones, that a story belonged with that beginning …’ Or perhaps a particular image, more than a line, presents itself to you in this way, as the key to a story. Novelist John Fowles described how he came to write The French Lieutenant’s Woman: ‘It started four or five months ago as a visual image. A woman stands at the end of a deserted quay and stares out to sea. That was all. … These mythopoeic ‘stills’ (they seem almost always static) float into my mind very often.’ The more you immerse yourself in your subject and in what you want to write about, the more you will encounter these sorts of lines and images.
End transcript
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

‘One sentence inspires great novel’: it could be a headline. Often the motivating force behind the writing of a story can be an odd line or image that somehow sticks with the writer.

Have you ever found inspiration to write from a single sentence?

What about images? It could be an awe-inspiring sunset, a work of art or simply an imagined scene that just won’t leave you.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371