I posted this piece this morning – since then I have discovered that this Coursera course IS NOT FREE. it still looks a very good course, and I am sure if you are in a position to enrol on it you will find it really useful. Don’t be put off looking at other MOOCs, many of them are still free, which is just brilliant!
MOOC – Massive Open On-Line Course… If you have never heard of MOOCs then you are missing out! These free on-line courses are so flexible and so diverse that there is bound to be one at least which appeals to you! They are run by universities across the world, no travelling involved except to your computer, iPad, laptop, iPhone, whatever; no costs involved, it is all on-line, all materials, photos, videos, links to other sites; flexible in terms of time – the course are usually 4-8 weeks long, and although there are targets for each week you can catch up if you miss them, and you can work when you want – do a whole hour’s work, ten minutes work, visit several times a day or week… it is open to your own situation! As well as the actual subject matter of the course, there are often forums and discussion groups where you can ‘meet’ other people… you can make online ‘friends’ which sometimes become friends in real life.
I have done several courses, archaeology, marine archaeology, Shakespeare, criminology, family history, there is every subject you can imagine – and some you’ve never dreamed of on offer. There are two main providers,
I really recommend you should have a look at them… and as a writer why not look at this one from Coursera:
… a creative writing course:
This Specialisation covers elements of three major creative writing genres: short story, narrative essay, and memoir. You will master the techniques that good writers use to compose a bracing story, populated with memorable characters in an interesting setting, written in a fresh descriptive style. You will analyse and constructively evaluate peer writing. In the Capstone, you will draft, rewrite, and complete a substantial original story in the genre of your choosing.
Our courses are designed for anyone from the aspiring short story writer to established novelist. Whether you have a finished novel sitting on your desk calling for a fresh look or have had the germ of an idea for a decade, this Specialisation gives you tools to achieve your goal. Through 4 courses focused on a key aspect of writing, and taken in any order you choose, you will develop a stronger ability to not only refine your writing, but critique writing in general and find inspiration in the works you are already reading.
Within this specialisation there are four different courses which you could follow – a couple have started already but the flexibility of the MOOC means you can join and catch up!:
COURSE 1 – The Craft of Plot
About the Course: In this course aspiring writers will be introduced to perhaps the most elemental and often the most challenging element of story: plot. We will learn what keeps it moving, how it manipulates our feelings, expectations, and desires. We will examine the choices storytellers make to snag our imaginations, drag them into a fictional world, and keep them there. We will learn how to outline and structure a plot, discuss narrative arc, pacing and reversals and reveal the inevitable surprise: connecting the beginning, middle and end.
COURSE 2 – The Craft of Character
About the Course: At the center of a good story are the characters in it. In this course aspiring writers will discover how to build and bring to life complex, vivid and unforgettable characters. We will study the choices a writer makes to bring all characters to life on the page, and we will perform written exercises in order to develop a variety of writing and pre-writing techniques, in order to create a variety of characters. We will learn how to use our own life experiences, and the people we know (and how not to!). We will develop inner (thoughts and feelings) and outer (appearance, habits, behavior) lives for our characters and see how that can lead us to richer and more interesting stories. We will breathe life into our characters and let them surprise us.
COURSE 3 – The Craft of Setting and Description
Upcoming session: Mar 13 — Apr 17 – Commitment 4 weeks of study, 1-3 hours/week
About the Course: In this course aspiring writers will be introduced to the techniques that masters of fiction use to ground a story in a concrete world. From the most realist settings to the most fantastical, writers will learn how to describe the physical world in sharp, sensory detail. We will also learn how to build credibility through research, and to use creative meditation exercises to deepen our own understanding of our story worlds, so that our readers can see all that we imagine.
COURSE 4 – The Craft of Style
About the Course: Your style is as unique and distinctive as your face, your voice, except that you can choose it, you can can work on it, enhance it. In this course we will introduce aspiring writers to the art of putting pressure on written language. We will study the use of metaphor and imagery, and demonstrate how clarity, grace, and inventiveness in word choice are imperative to a story’s success. Writers will emerge with the revision skills essential to all writers of good stories and good prose.
COURSE 5 – Your Story
Upcoming session: Apr 17 — Jun 26 – Commitment 7 weeks of study, 3-5 hours/week
About the Capstone Project: Everything comes together in the Capstone. You will draft a complete story, narrative essay, or memoir of 8–15 pages. With the advice of your peer readers, you will revise, rewrite, and complete it. The skills you’ve learned of plotting, setting, physical description, characterisation, and stylistic clarity and innovation will culminate in an original work of art all your own. We’ll discuss the steps that professional writers take to bring their work into the public world. Along the way you’ll learn the patient habits of revision that make up the writer’s life.
If you do enrol in any of these courses, we would love to hear from you and find out how you are getting on! We haven’t decided yet whether we will be enrolling… but if we do we will share our experiences!