Online creative writing courses are designed for writers who want to improve their skills without going through a formal in-person program.
Instead of floundering for years, writing bad books and getting rejected, you can glean wisdom from the best writers on the planet and accelerate your book to publication. Don’t delay — the info in these courses will radically improve your skills as a writer.
Be careful to distinguish between courses that come with feedback on your writing and ones that just include information. Both can be helpful, but make sure you’re signing up for what you need.
Also, be aware of the differences between courses that include a teacher and those that just have audio or video lectures. The lectures can be helpful, but it’s always great to ask someone questions. Finally, some of these links are affiliate links, so thank you for financially supporting my mission to empower writers!
I hope you enjoy this list!
1. Best Overall Course
MasterClass showcases the most famous authors in the world talking about writing. If that’s your priority, this is the right course for you.
- James Patterson will teach you his secret techniques for writing fast-paced and gripping fiction.
- Margaret Atwood offers a unique view into dystopian and speculative fiction.
- R.L. Stine will teach you how to write for younger audiences, such as MG and YA (remember Goosebumps? I do).
- David Mamet teaches dramatic writing, with whip-smart advice on how to write dialogue.
- Aaron Sorkin (Social Network, West Wing, Moneyball) will teach you how to write screenplays that get buzz, nominations, and fresh tomatoes.
- Malcolm Gladwell will teach you how to write nonfiction that people can’t stop talking about.
- Bob Woodward will give you everything you need to become an investigative journalist (yes, this is the guy who toppled a U.S. President).
- Judy Blume teaches you how to hold the reader’s attention. After all, she is one of the bestselling authors of all time, and YA readers everywhere love her.
2. Best Writing Craft Course
Triangle Method of Character Creation
As opposed to all of the general courses on this page, this course concentrates on a single element in writing: Characterization.
If you want to concentrate deeply on making a character come alive on the page, you should take this course. By the time you finish, you will have developed an addicting character, one that readers want to return to again and again.
In 12 videos with stunning graphics, John Matthew Fox guides you through such topics as:
- The Art of Minor Characters
- 5 Tips for Complex Characters
- The Likability Factor
- Dynamic First Actions
3. Best Course for a Memoir
The best course offered on CreativeLive is by Joyce Maynard, who teaches “Writing Your Story” a 26-lesson video course on writing memoir.
If you feel like you have a crazy life story that you want to share with others, please take this course. With the wisdom of a celebrated memoirist, she draws from the art of nonfiction and the substance of real life to show writers the magic of a true life story.
She teaches you how to defeat fear and silence tell your story.
4. Best Course for Writing Your Novel
The best course available here is the Ninety Day Novel — that’s right, you can write your entire novel in three months.
I’ve gone through all 100 video lessons and loved it — and you can get extra personalized feedback from Louise Dean herself (both over Skype and through written feedback).
If you’ve already written your novel, then I would recommend the “Editing Your Novel” course — really fantastic material there. This one’s a bit shorter — 30 video lessons.
5. Best Course for Writing Your Children’s Book
In this 30-video course, learn how to write, edit, and publish your children’s book.
You can take the course at any time and you have lifetime access, and you also get downloadable PDFs with additional information and quizzes that test your knowledge.
Learn how to work with an illustrator, improve your storytelling, and use humor to make children love your book.
6. Best Screenwriting Course
One of the most famous screenwriters in the world dishes on dialogue, creating characters, and how to write a damn good script.
Along with these 35 videos, you’ll also receive a workbook and get access to office hours where class members critique each other’s work.
The best thing about this course is that he’s wildly entertaining and rather funny, which is a huge benefit because it’s actually a pretty lengthy class.
7. Best Course for Sentences
Want to know how to write a better sentence? Check out “How to Write a Splendid Sentence“, a 28-video course that takes you step by step through the process of writing strong, more robust sentences.
Learn these things and more:
- 2/3/1 trick
- the standalone/leaning technique
- how to break every rule you’ve ever learned, and break it beautifully
- study the 100 most beautiful sentences
- Get challenged with the 100 Sentence Challenges (can you pull them off?)
The course includes quizzes and PDFs to test your knowledge of what you’ve learned, and gives you writing assignments to help you improve your sentence skills.
8. Best Course for Writing Suspense Books
Writing Suspense in Any Genre
Nobody is more entertaining than Benjamin Percy. When you read his books, it’s like getting schooled in plotting: you’re in awe but at the same time you just want to keep turning the page.
I know him because I’ve read most of his novels and short stories (and met him in person at a few conferences — yes, he’s cool). I’ve also read his excellent book about writing, Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction.
Plus, you’re going to be astonished by his deep voice. Not that a super deep voice makes him a great teacher, but it sure makes it fun to listen to him.
In this course, you’ll learn how to pace your books to maximum impact on the reader, and how to create plots that will keep them hungry for more.
Seriously, if you want to write a story that grabs the reader by the throat and doesn’t let go, you should definitely take his course.
Writers Digest offers online classes about once a month — you can sign up for the next one by following the link below. And just because I like you, Bookfox readers get 10% by using the code below:
Use Coupon code AFFTEN during checkout for 10% off.
Scribble: Writing for New Writers is a free 14-week course designed to teach students the value of writing. It is offered by Taylor’s University.
It’s not creative-writing specific, but more generally about how to become a good writer. You’ll learn about grammar, topic sentences, and research papers. It’s a MOOC, which stands for a Massive Open Online Course. This means about 3000 students are enrolled at a time.
- Format: Video
- Level: Beginner
Comprised of eight sessions, this free online creative course is designed to help you transform your thoughts into words.
Topics include mastering characters, dialogue, and point of view. Be aware that critique is not offered through your instructor.
- Format: PDFs
- Level: Beginner
You will also learn how authors use their personal lives to build a foundation for their novels.
- Format: Text and Audio
- Level: Beginner
The entire goal of this course is to come up with good ideas.
You will receive 3 emails over 3 days. Each email will help you to generate some ideas to write stories. The bad news is that you have to give your email and they promise that “You’ll also get interesting news and special offers,” which sounds like a marketing gimmick.
- Format: Email
- Level: Beginner
Inside these videos, you’ll be given some creative exercises and tools to defeat writer’s block.
With a Free Membership in Skillshare, you can enroll in any free class, but be aware that some classes require a Premium Membership where you pay $8/month (billed annually at $96) for an annual plan or you pay as you go for $9.95/month.
- Format: Video
- Level: Beginner
Beginning every October, Open University, a distance learning institution based in the UK, gives writers like you the opportunity to hone your creative writing skills. Through a range of engaging exercises, writers are given strategies that help establish writing voice. This course also offers instruction on revision and will help you gain insight from your writing peers. You will be assigned to a tutor who will keep track of your progress over a 32 week period. During this time you will also have the opportunity to connect with other students in the course. In terms of cost, you pay for each module separately.
Tuition rates include: $1824.83 for 30 credits or $3649.66 for 60 credits.
Keep in mind that the course also requires a specific workbook to guide you through the course, which is a separate fee.
This is more of an academic course, but you’ll gain knowledge of how to communicate through your writing. Designed by professionals from Stanford University’s Program in Writing and Rhetoric, this graphic-style course is comprised of five modules, each containing an interactive exercise that is customized to a specific writing theme. The course runs on a question and answer format (you will not be scored) and will take up to 4-6 hours to complete.
Upon completion of the Adventures in Writing course, you will achieve a clearer understanding of tone, voice, and word choice. You will also master the style of an argumentative piece, while dishing out a polished piece free of grammar and punctuation flubs.
This class is for those who have an idea for a book, but are having trouble weaving it together. Have no fear, for this instructor-led course will help you to structure your novel like a professional. You’ll understand the vital elements of a novel to help you build a premises for your story. Along the way you’ll learn the significance of viewpoint, dialogue, and pacing and how they work to create your story. Before you know it, you’ll be prepared to write fiction like a pro. This is a 24 hour course with a duration access of 6 weeks.
Start Dates: July 13, Aug 17, Sep 14, Oct 1. Internet access and email are a must.
18. Faber Academy
Faber Academy offers numerous creative classes through their London location or online. From courses focusing on a beginner’s guide to fiction writing to writing short stories, your options are simply limitless! Classes range in dates and length, though you might want to check out the upcoming class. The 4-week course Creating Brilliant Characters is being offered from Aug.1 – Aug. 28, and is taught by tutors with backgrounds in creative writing.
Also, if you are ready to send your novel out into the world, you may be interested in a Faber Academy Manuscript Assessment offer. For a fee, Faber Academy will make certain your story is in the best shape to nab an agent.
Price: A range, but some cost £4,000.
Wondering where to take your writing beyond your imagination? Enroll now in an online Creative Writing degree programs! Full Sail University offers Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Creative Writing for entertainment. From storyboarding and scriptwriting, this program prepares you to consider everything that goes into a story when writing for an audience. You may also want to consider their Creative Writing Master of Fine Arts Degree online program. Here, you will hone your skill as a writer, while learning the process of creating a brand for yourself with a creative portfolio, so you can stand out. The possibilities are endless!
Writers.com has offered classes since 1995 (!) online, and offers a variety of courses from beginning fiction to novel writing. One unique thing about writers.com is that many online courses don’t offer feedback from the teacher — they are what’s known as “audits,” but for Writers.com, all classes include feedback from the teacher. They also offer one-on-one services like professional editing and career coaching.
Price: Most classes cost $215 – $360.
Writer’s Village University offers access to over 200 creative writing courses. Most of these courses are independent study, where you move at your own rate, but a few of them include an instructor and classmates and run for 16 weeks. They also offers courses “inspired” by traditional MFA programs, and give certificates to those who complete these degrees.
Are you eager to blow your audience away with a breakthrough novel? This course is designed to give writers a treasure trove of strategies to keep your readers turning pages. Students will receive one lesson per week by e-mail for eight weeks. Keep in mind that feedback on your writing assignments is not included in the course.
- Format: Email
- Price: $26.95
Short on time? Just consult this bullet point list:
- Best Overall Writing Course – – – Masterclass
- Best Course for Writing Craft – – – Triangle Method of Character Creation
- Best Course on how to write a Memoir – – – Writing Your Story
- Best Course to Help You Write Your Novel – – – The 90 Day Novel
- Best Course for Children’s Book Writing – – – Two Weeks To Your Best Children’s Book
- Best Course for Editing Your Novel – – – The Novelry
- Best Screenwriting Course – – – Aaron Sorkin’s “Your Script Starts Here”
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