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Creative writing coursera review

Coursera Creative Writing Specialization Review

The Coursera Creative Writing Specialization is a great course for aspiring writers. The course covers elements of plot, character, description and style, and is beneficial to both new and experienced writers.

Introduction

Although I’ve long dreamed of writing a book, I had always viewed creative writing courses with suspicion. I told myself that writing was a sort of mystical art form that couldn’t be taught. That you either had it in you to write or you didn’t. But with coronavirus lockdown fully underway, and a load of free time on my hands, I decided to test my theory. Would I benefit from one of these courses?

Searching the internet for online creative writing courses, it didn’t take long to find Coursera. So after reading some reviews on Reddit, I decided to give the Creative Writing Specialization a try. It’s an online specialization developed by Wesleyan University and hosted on the Coursera learning platform. The course aims to supply you with the tools you need to complete your writing goals and is designed for both new and experienced writers alike. Having now sat through all five modules, I’m delighted to admit my view of creative writing courses has changed. In fact, I now actively encourage anyone with a desire to write fiction to undertake this course.

What is the Coursera Creative Writing Specialization?

The specialization is an online course comprising five individual courses. The first four cover elements of craft, while the last is a capstone project. Although the courses can be undertaken on their own, they are designed to be completed as part of a wider whole. The specialization was created and is taught by the teachers at Wesleyan University, a physical establishment located in Middletown, Connecticut.

What does the Specialization cover?

Coursera’s Creative Writing Specialization is split into five individual courses which I will outline below. The specialization is designed to be worked on over a 3-6 month period but can be finished faster if you have the time to commit.

Course 1. The Craft of Plot

Taught by novelist Brando Skyhorse, this course aims to teach you the different elements of plot and how they come together to form a story. Brando does a great job of explaining structure types and gives examples of how these have been used in famous works of literature. Once you understand how these structures work, it becomes easy to apply them to your writing.

Plot can be one of the most challenging elements of writing, but I found Brando’s explanations both helpful and enlightening. Within this course, he also touches on crafting scenes as well as editing and revision.

Course 2. The Craft of Character

An engaging protagonist can be the driving force in a story. In the specializations second unit, Amy Bloom covers what goes into creating captivating characters, focusing on how different physical and emotional qualities shape an individual. She offers insights into how flaws, goals and desires can help to drive a character through the story’s plot.

Amy encourages you to draw from your own life experiences and use these to create believable and intriguing characters. She also touches on dialogue and character voice.

Course 3. The Craft of Setting and Description

The setting and description course is taught by novelist Amity Gaige. During the course videos, she looks at persuasive settings, showing significant detail and the different phases of research. Throughout the course, Amy offers useful tips for constructing a fully-fleshed out fictional world.

One of the most interesting elements of this course was the meditation exercise. Here, Amy explains how you can use meditation to finely tune your focus and benefit from increased clarity in your writing.

Course 4. The Craft of Style

Style is subjective, and as such, prose can be hard to judge. Given how much of this subject is based on interpretation, Salvatore Scibona does an amazing job in educating learners on how they can use style to their advantage.

Salvatore guides us through meaning and clarity, teaches the pyramid of language, looks at word choice and explores the use of nouns and verbs. He takes examples from famous works and puts them under a microscope, inspecting its use of language and explaining how it benefits the piece. After Brando Skyhorse’s course on plot, I found this to be the most useful and interesting of the bunch.

Course 5. Capstone: Your Story

The capstone section is where you take all of the knowledge you have acquired during the previous courses and utilise it in a final piece of writing. Salvatore Scibona teaches the final unit of the specialization, where you’re guided through the writing process from the inception to completion of your first draft.

Throughout each course, teachers also undertake what they call “Shop Talks”. These are interviews conducted with either the other teachers or with visiting writers. During these videos, writers discuss their work and muse over the subject topics taught within course modules.

Assignments

At the end of each course is an assignment module. Here you’re given a task to complete based on the teachings of that unit. Some of these tasks are more entertaining than others, but this is all down to personal taste. All are designed to test your knowledge and improve your skills as a writer.

Important note – all assignments are peer-reviewed. In order to have your work reviewed by other learners, you are required to review three pieces of writing in return. This is a disadvantage if you want feedback from a teacher, but a great way to gauge how your peers receive your work.

Is there a certificate for completing the course?

Upon completion of the Coursera Creative Writing Specialization you will receive a certificate. These can be shared on your LinkedIn profile or added to your CV. At the time of writing, Coursera claims that 58% of learners started a new career after completing the specialisation and that 22% secured a pay increase or promotion.

How much does it cost?

When you sign up for the course you’re given a week-long trial period. You’re free to cancel within this time if you feel the course isn’t right for you. The specialization runs as a subscription and you pay monthly until completion. The cost of the course depends on the country ($49/month for those in the US, £39/month for those based in the UK).

Did this course improve my writing?

Undoubtedly, yes. Since completing the lessons, I’ve found myself not only writing differently but also reading in a new way. Every time I open a book, I see so many of the tools on display, and this only confirms the legitimacy of the content. My writing process has become more refined and focussed, and the skills gained are advantageous in all areas of my writing, creative or otherwise.

Conclusion

The Coursera Creative Writing Specialization is great for anyone looking to improve and develop their writing. The course is perfect for complete newbies hoping to grasp the basics of plot, character and style. I found the teachers to be both knowledgeable and engaging, and the videos easy to watch. Seasoned writers will also find benefit from the content and find something to take home. Where I feel the course will be most advantageous is with writers who feel they’re in a rut and in need of a new direction. Undertaking this course should help reignite your passion for writing and put new life into your work.

Best Online Creative Writing Classes

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An online creative writing class is a course you take remotely to learn how to become a better storyteller, produce completed manuscripts, and publish your work. Since the class takes place over the internet, you can study anywhere.

The best online creative writing classes offer a rich curriculum, provide a good value for the cost, and are taught by experienced professionals. We looked at a number courses before naming our top selections. Read on to learn which class may be best to help you achieve your creative writing goals.

Best Online Creative Writing Classes of 2022

  • Best Overall:Neil Gaiman Teaches the Art of Storytelling
  • Best for Beginners:Beginning Writer’s Workshop by ed2go
  • Best Free Class:Coursera’s Creative Writing Specialization by Wesleyan University
  • Best Live Class:Creative Writing 101 by Gotham Writers
  • Best for Writing Critique:UCLA Extension’s Introduction to Creative Writing
  • Best for Creative Nonfiction:Udemy’s Creative Non-Fiction Writing – You Can’t Make This Stuff Up!
  • Neil Gaiman Teaches the Art of Storytelling
  • Beginning Writer’s Workshop by ed2go
  • Coursera’s Creative Writing Specialization by Wesleyan University
  • Creative Writing 101 by Gotham Writers
  • UCLA Extension’s Introduction to Creative Writing
  • Udemy’s Creative Non-Fiction Writing – You Can’t Make This Stuff Up!

Best Overall : Neil Gaiman Teaches the Art of Storytelling

Why We Chose It: Neil Gaiman Teaches the Art of Storytelling took our top spot because the course has a robust curriculum and is taught by an award-winning author.

Short, engaging videos

Access content from your computer or smartphone

Easy-to-digest video lectures

No instructor feedback

Masterclass subscription required

We like this class because you learn many creative writing techniques from world-renowned fiction writer Neil Gaiman. The course is a series of 19 short video lectures which include:

  • Introduction
  • Truth in Fiction
  • Sources of Inspiration
  • Finding Your Voice
  • Developing the Story
  • Story Case Study
  • Short Fiction
  • Short Fiction Case Study
  • Dialogue and Character
  • Character Case Study
  • Worldbuilding
  • Descriptions
  • Humor
  • Genre
  • Comics
  • Dealing with Writer’s Block
  • Editing
  • Rules for Writers
  • The Writer’s Responsibilities

As you watch the nearly five hours of content, you’ll learn the fundamentals of writing stories, including how to make your story feel real; find unique angles to explore; develop your writing voice; create compelling plots, characters, settings, and dialogue; and edit and improve your work. You’ll also write short stories, understand different writing genres, and learn tips for getting unstuck when you have writer’s block.

This course of study is self-paced, so you won’t receive any feedback on your writing. You can access the videos on your smartphone or computer.

There are no requirements to enroll. However, you can only access the class if you have a Masterclass subscription, which currently costs $180 for the year. Once inside Masterclass, you can take any course offered. If you’re dissatisfied with the learning platform, you can email customer service within 30 days of purchase for a full refund.

Best for Beginners : Beginning Writer’s Workshop by ed2go

Why We Chose It: Beginning Writer’s Workshop by ed2go gives new writers the foundational information they need to complete a piece of creative work.

Instructor and peer feedback

Course access ends after eight weeks

We like Beginning Writer’s Workshop by ed2go because it’s designed to quickly turn a true beginner into a confident writer with a publication-worthy piece. When you finish the eight-week, 12-lesson course, you’ll know how to:

  • Distinguish between and speak to the different writing genres and subgenres
  • Use various literary techniques and devices like similes, metaphors, imagery, etc.
  • Develop plots, characters, and other story elements
  • Navigate the entire writing process to include pre-writing, drafting, editing, and finalizing a piece
  • Peer-edit the creative work of others
  • Combat writer’s block
  • Go through the publishing process

The class includes 24 hours of instructional content. For the first six weeks, you’ll get access to two new self-paced lessons per week. The remaining two weeks of the course are there for you to catch up on any lessons you may have missed and take your final exam. Lectures include reading material and videos.

There’s also an online discussion board where you can post questions and talk about the lectures. Discussions only remain open for two weeks after a lesson is released. So, while you can study when it fits your schedule, you’ll want to keep up with the work.

The course is facilitated by Carmen Marquez, a journalist, writer, and teacher. They’ll reply to any inquiries you post on the discussion board within 24 to 48 hours. You’ll also have the opportunity to get feedback on your writing from the instructor and other students.

The class costs $149. A new round of the course begins every month, so you can get started when it’s convenient for you.

Best Free Class : Coursera’s Creative Writing Specialization by Wesleyan University

Why We Chose It: Coursera’s Creative Writing Specialization by Wesleyan University is our choice for the best free class since you can access content from the school at no cost.

Access to free content from a well-regarded school

No feedback or interaction unless you subscribe to Coursera

We like the Creative Writing Specialization because you can learn the fundamentals of creative writing for free. The course is hosted by Coursera, an online learning platform, and Coursera gives you the option to “audit” the class at no charge, allowing you to view all of the included videos and reading materials without subscribing to the platform.

The specialization includes four classes you can audit:

  • Creative Writing: The Craft of Plot
  • Creative Writing: The Craft of Character
  • Creative Writing: The Craft of Setting and Description
  • Creative Writing: The Craft of Style

Each class features a few hours of content, and you can take them in any order and on your own time.

As you go through the lessons, you’ll learn how to:

  • Develop a story with a beginning, middle, and end
  • Bring the players in your tale to life
  • Create a detailed world with your words
  • Refine your piece via the editing process

The course of study has multiple instructors, all with backgrounds in English or creative writing.

If you want a more interactive experience that includes writing assignments, access to a discussion board, or feedback on your work, you’ll have to purchase a Coursera membership for $49 per month. The company offers a seven-day free trial, so you can test it out before buying.

Having full access will also allow you to obtain a certificate of completion once you’ve finished the specialization.

Best Live Class : Creative Writing 101 by Gotham Writers

Why We Chose It: Creative Writing 101 by Gotham Writers won this category because it features weekly live lectures via Zoom.

Live, interactive meetings

Writing feedback available

Course is somewhat pricey

Registration fee assessed

We like this class since you can learn about creative writing in a fully interactive environment and get your questions answered in real time. The course is designed specifically for newer writers or experienced writers looking for a refresher.

The six-week class meets for three hours a week and features:

  • An introduction to creative writing
  • A discussion on fiction writing to include types of fiction, components of the genre—such as plot, characters, and point of view—and how to write it
  • A discussion on the different types of nonfiction, including narrative nonfiction, memoirs, and personal essays
  • Guidance on how to find story ideas, cultivate good writing habits, and get past writer’s block

Between lectures, you’ll also complete writing assignments and get feedback on your work. The course has multiple instructors, all with education and experience in writing.

You must be 18 or older to take the course. The class is offered on various days and times, so you’ll have to look online to see which option fits your schedule.

Creative Writing 101 costs $319 for the online or Zoom classes. The company also charges a $25 registration fee per term, but you might be able to find discounts or promotions to reduce the cost.

Best for Writing Critique : UCLA Extension’s Introduction to Creative Writing

Why We Chose It: UCLA Extension’s Introduction to Creative Writing is our choice for best for writing critique because the class features small, weekly breakout sessions to workshop student writing.

Small group workshops for detailed feedback

UCLA Extension’s Introduction to Creative Writing allows you to learn from and work closely with instructors, writing experts, and other students. The course is limited to 12 students and is designed to help learners explore creative writing.

The Introduction to Creative Writing course runs for six weeks and meets live over Zoom for three hours weekly. In each class meeting, you’ll start in a breakout session to discuss the writing assignment and how you’re feeling as a writer. Then, you’ll transition into a lecture with a guest expert about topics like fiction, nonfiction, screenwriting, and poetry.

Throughout the class, you’ll:

  • Experiment with writing in different styles
  • Learn how to critique the work of other writers
  • Network with other creatives
  • Be inspired to write and learn more about the craft

The course has several different instructors who are all accomplished writers. You must be 18 or older to enroll unless you have the approval of an instructor.

Since this is a beginner course, you won’t get graded on the writing you produce. Instead, you’ll be evaluated based on assignment completion, the feedback you provide to your peers, and overall participation.

The course costs $475, and if you need to withdraw, you must do so within two weeks of the start date to receive a refund.

Best for Creative Nonfiction : Udemy’s Creative Non-Fiction Writing – You Can’t Make This Stuff Up!

Why We Chose It: Udemy’s Creative Non-Fiction Writing won this category because it specifically focuses on creative nonfiction.

Specific focus on creative nonfiction

Certificate of completion given

No writing feedback available

If you’re interested in writing true stories rather than fiction but still want that creative element, you might want to consider creative nonfiction, like personal essays and memoirs. We like this class because it helps you dive into the world of creative nonfiction at a budget-conscious price.

The $19.99 course is self-paced and includes nine modules and 26 video lectures. The nine modules include:

  • Introduction
  • What is Creative Nonfiction?
  • Writing the Vignette
  • Using Sensory Language
  • Writing in Scenes
  • Using a Plot Diagram
  • Making the Personal Universal
  • Personal Storytelling
  • Course Wrap-up

During the nearly two hours of lectures, you’ll learn the skills required to write creative nonfiction pieces, such as memoirs and essays; the basic building blocks of storytelling, such as plots, characters, and scenes; and several writing techniques and literary devices. You’ll also learn:

  • How to find your writer’s voice and be more confident
  • How to turn your personal experience into a compelling story that will appeal to the masses
  • The revision process

Although you won’t get any feedback from your instructor, the class includes writing projects you can complete independently and quizzes to review your learning. To supplement the lectures, you’ll also have access to downloadable resources like templates and graphics.

Your instructor is the creator of the class, Trace Crawford. Crawford has more than 20 years of writing and teaching experience.

You don’t have to meet any particular requirements to take this course. It’s designed for any curious writer.

In case you’re unhappy with the class, it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. When you finish the last lecture, you’ll receive a certificate of completion. You’ll also have lifetime access to the content.

Final Verdict

There are countless online creative writing classes available. Due to the volume of options, it may be hard to choose the best course for you. Before you enroll in any online creative writing class, be sure to review it thoroughly. That way, you select the course that can help you finish and publish your creative masterpiece.

However, Neil Gaiman Teaches the Art of Storytelling is an excellent place to start your search. The content comes from an award-winning author and is designed to inspire you, help you develop your voice, and teach you new creative writing techniques.

Compare the Best Online Creative Writing Classes

Course Cost Length
Neil Gaiman Teaches the Art of Storytelling Best Overall $180 for annual Masterclass membership Approximately 5 hours
Beginning Writer’s Workshop by ed2go Best for Beginners $149 24 hours
Coursera’s Creative Writing Specialization by Wesleyan University Best Free Class $0 or $49 per month to unlock more features Approximately 11 hours
Creative Writing 101 by Gotham Writers Best Live Class $319 + $25 registration fee 18 hours
UCLA Extension’s Introduction to Creative Writing Best for Writing Critique $475 18 hours
Udemy’s Creative Non-Fiction Writing – You Can’t Make This Stuff Up! Best for Creative Nonfiction $19.99 Approximately 2 hours

Frequently Asked Questions

What Do You Learn in an Online Creative Writing Class?

Although it varies by course, an online creative writing class will generally teach you about things like:

  • Different genres and subgenres of writing
  • Organizing and outlining your ideas
  • Storytelling to include plot, setting, and character development
  • Using literary devices such as imagery, metaphors, similes, etc.
  • Refining and editing your work
  • Overcoming writer’s block
  • Establishing productive writing habits

The class may also include a peer-critique component where you get better at editing by reviewing other writers’ work.

Should New Writers Take an Online Creative Writing Class?

New writers can and should take an online creative writing class. Some classes are designed especially for beginners so that learners can get the foundational information that they need. Taking an entry-level class can help you decide if creative writing is right for you and what direction to take as a writer.

How Can an Online Creative Writing Class Help Me Improve My Writing?

An online creative writing class can help you improve your writing in several ways, such as by:

  • Reacquainting you with writing basics
  • Introducing you to new literary techniques
  • Guiding you to find and develop your unique voice
  • Helping you to overcome writer’s block and establish good writing habits
  • Teaching you how to edit and refine your work

An online creative writing class may also include personalized feedback from the instructor to hone your skills further.

How Much Do Online Creative Writing Classes Cost?

Online creative writing classes vary in cost. You can access some courses for free while others are priced at several hundred dollars or more.

Are Online Creative Writing Classes Worth It?

Depending on your goals, online creative writing classes can be worth your time, effort, and money. If you’re a hobbyist writer, it probably makes sense to stick with short, budget-friendly courses. But if you’re a writer by trade or would like to become a professional writer, it may be worth investing a more substantial amount of hours and dollars into your development.

Methodology

We closely evaluated 10 online creative writing classes before making our selections. We considered the course curriculum, instructor credibility, and value. We also accounted for any unique features.

All of our choices offer a rigorous course of study for a fair price and are designed to help creative writers hone their craft and get ready for publication.

Coursera creative writing review

Coursera creative writing course review

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