It’s great to be constantly learning and improving as a fiction writer. But going back to school to get a Master's in Fine Arts just isn’t plausible for most writers. Luckily, there are a ton of great courses you can take online.
How do you know which ones are worth your time and money? We’ve got you covered. Here are some of the best online courses for fiction writers.
A quick note before we start: we are affiliates for some of these programs, so the links in this article are affiliate links and we get a small commission if you click and sign up. Don’t worry – there is no extra cost to you. That being said, we wholeheartedly support these courses and wouldn’t recommend them if we didn’t think they’d be a huge help.
- 1. MasterClass
- 2. Jerry Jenkins’ Your Novel Blueprint
- 3. 100 Day Book by The Write Practice
- 4. Mark Dawson’s Ads for Authors
- 5. Lauren Ranalli’s Think Beyond The Book
- 6. Creative Writing: The Craft of Plot
- 7. Grammar Lion: A Grammar Refresher
- 8. Rebecca Hamilton: Six-Figure Author Coach
- 9. Mark Dawson's Self-Publishing 101
- 10. The Novelry's Online Writing Courses
- 11. Build Your Author Platform by WritePublishSell
- 12. C.S. Lakin's Emotional Mastery for Fiction Writers
- 13. Creative Writing Specialization
- 14. Bookfox’s Two Weeks to Your Best Children’s Book
- 15. Pandemic University
- Honorable Mentions: Other Writing Courses We Love
MasterClass is an amazing site full of classes on all sorts of subjects, taught by the greatest minds in their respective fields. There are several writing courses, and they are all taught by some of the biggest names in fiction.
Margaret Atwood’s is one of the most popular. But you can also learn from crime writer James Patterson, young adult author Judy Blume, fantasy author Neil Gaiman, and TV writer Shonda Rhimes. That’s just a few of them! There are so many more.
Masterclass appears to have gotten rid of the ability to purchase individual classes, which used to sell for $99. However, a membership is only $180 a year, and you get access to over 80 classes. Who knows? You might pick up an additional hobby like photography or cooking.
Are you overwhelmed by the prospect of writing a whole book? Jerry Jenkins' Your Novel Blueprint is the course for you. Jerry has written 195 books and has made the New York Times’ Bestseller list 21 times!
His blueprint isn’t a formula, and it allows for your own style. But it covers everything from overcoming fear, to actually writing, to preparing your elevator pitch. The course is 58 modules long, and you get lifetime access. Plus, you can get access to a mastermind session with Jerry, an exclusive Facebook community, and video feedback on your story idea from the man himself, as well as the first ten pages of your manuscript critiqued by an author he trusts,
It’s pricey because it’s an investment in your career. But when you consider that an MFA costs over $30,000 and one college course might cost you $3000, it doesn’t seem that bad. It rings in at $1,997. We think it’s totally worth it.
For a taster of Jerry's expertise, watch the replay of Jerry's webinar with ProWritingAid all about aggressive self-editing. You'll pick up some great tips!
100 Day Book is an online program that will guide you through the book writing process. At the end of the 100 day program, you will have a finished book, and you will have internalized a process you can use again and again to write books in the future. Some of the unique features of this program: daily writing inspiration, encouraging feedback from the 100 Day Book community, a dedicated book mentor to help you problem solve, and a $100 incentive if you meet your weekly deadlines and finish your book. Need we say more?
Mark Dawson of Self Publishing Formula is a guru of self-publishing. He provides so many great resources to independent authors on everything about the business. It was hard to choose just one of his courses, so we picked the one on the most difficult subject: advertising.
Advertising books and using social media ads isn’t quite like advertising anything else. But Mark has it down to a science. You’ll learn how to actually advertise without breaking the bank and instead secure a good return on your investment.
It’s one of his pricier courses, but if you want to make a living off self-publishing, it’s worth every penny. It’s $849 and he offers monthly payment plans. This class only opens a few times a year, so you can sign up for the waiting list.
Marketing is one of the hardest parts of being an author. We’re creatives, not advertising experts! But it’s also necessary. Think Beyond The Book is the course that finally made me stop dreading marketing. Lauren Ranalli is an independent author who made $10,000 in the first three months of publication, and she didn’t even sell on Amazon!
Think Beyond The Book is a monthly membership at $34. That’s because it’s not just one set course. You will get access to all of the modules about different aspects of marketing your book, but Lauren offers new content every month.
The best part of Lauren’s courses is that she gives you specific action steps. The most relevant ones for me were when she broke down how to plan six months of social media content. I was able to plan out three posts a week for six months, and it only took me a couple of hours. I also learned how to establish my brand. Plus, Lauren is so sweet and helpful in the exclusive Facebook group.
We get it. Money is tight, especially for us starving artists. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn a ton about writing. Coursera is full of online classes, and The Craft of Plot is a great choice. This course is provided through Wesleyan University, and the reviews are amazing.
In about ten hours’ worth of video modules, you’ll learn everything you need to know about plot structure. This course will teach you how to craft a solid plot for your entire story, as well as structuring and writing powerful scenes.
This isn’t the only free course on Coursera. Wesleyan University offers many more options on different elements of fiction writing.
So it’s been a while since you were diagramming sentences and learning about predicates and clauses. Grammar doesn’t have to be a barrier to writing. Sure, there are great programs out there like ProWritingAid to help proofread. But you’ll make fewer mistakes if you actually understand the rules of grammar.
Grammar Lion offers several classes on grammar, including a couple of free ones. But if you need a refresher on all the rules of the English language, this is the course for you. There are explanations and quizzes, and it’s estimated to take twelve weeks to complete. Plus, you get a Grammar Guide—a real person who will answer any questions you have through email.
This course is must-have for any writer who struggles with grammar. It’s normally $199, but at the time I wrote this article, there was a quarantine special for $79.
Over the last four years, Rebecca Hamilton has helped hundreds of authors move from part time hobby writing to full time career writing. Many of her "graduates" have moved on to make $5k-40k+ a month writing books, and 20% of Amazon's bestselling authors are Rebecca's past or current clients.
Rebecca has a whole suite of courses to help you understand how to plan and market your bestselling books. Rebecca's process ensures that you'll write books people actually want to read, rocketing you to the top of the bestseller list.
Self Publishing 101 is an extensive course with everything you need to know from the moment you type THE END on your manuscript. It’s a straightforward easy-to-follow guide that will take all the guesswork out of how to publish your book and to get your indie author career off to the best possible start. (Suitable for beginner to intermediate levels, fiction and non-fiction.
Go from zero to finished novel in one year. The Novelry's "A Book in a Year" course is a year of complete guidance and support to write your novel and fulfill your ambition to become an author. In it, the team at The Novelry will lead you through the creation of a sound and appealing story idea onto writing a novel, then revising and editing your first draft. You will complete and hold in your hands a manuscript to professional standard ready to pitch to literary agents.
Looking for something else? The Novelry has dozens of courses about everything from writing children's books to pitching to help you get started.
There is nothing worse than doing all the things to have a well-written, edited, fantastic book only to watch it sell only a handful of copies on launch day. The biggest reason for "failure to launch" for authors is not having an author platform - a fan base - that is ready to go when you launch. WritePublishSells' program, Building Your Author Platform, teaches the steps to creating and growing that fan base.
If we don’t succeed in making our readers feel something, we fail. If they don’t feel what we want them to feel, we fail. To be effective writers, we must master the emotional challenge of our stories. It won’t do to hope we will move our readers in some way. It won’t do to hope we get across our characters’ emotions. We have to become a master of emotion.
That's where C.S. Lakin's course, Emotional Mastery for Fiction Writers, comes in. Learn how to become an emotion master.
Coursera's Creative Writing Specialization covers elements of three major creative writing genres: short story, narrative essay, and memoir. In the course, you'll 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'll also analyze and evaluate peer writing, as well as drafting and complete a substantial original story in the genre of your choosing. Check it out now!
It seems like there are tons of courses about writing for young adults and adults. But what about those of us who want to write a children’s book?
Two Weeks to Your Best Children’s Book has you covered. This course includes 30 video lessons on everything from the writing process to copyright law. Plus, you can post questions, and the instructor, John Matthew Fox, will answer them personally.
It’s also much more affordable than many courses. It’s only $149, and there is a three-month payment plan option. If you want to break into writing children’s books, this is the class for you.
Pandemic University is pop-up writing school for, and by, locked-down and quarantined writers. Pandemic University offers suites of short and affordable creative writing classes online. By taking their classes, you’re helping support artists who’ve suffered financially during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can purchase courses a la carte on varied topics from demystifying the publishing process to how to write topical satire to how to read like a writer.
Want to try Pandemic University for yourself? They've been generous enough to offer members of the ProWritingAid community 25% off using the code "PROWA25."
Honorable Mentions: Other Writing Courses We Love
- The Creative Spark (MIT) – Something every writer must have is creativity. In this course, you'll be taught to tap into your most creative ideas and to talk about the creative process.
- Writing and Experience (MIT) – The course brings to light one's cultural experience and how it affects writing. Written works are examined based on multiple cultural influences of a person.
- Writing and Reading the Essay (MIT) – Essay writing can benefit the style of fiction writers, novelists, and poets. In this course, the process of reading and writing essays is explored.
- Writing and Reading Short Stories (MIT) – Learn how to write short stories, discuss great ones, and learn to read based on historical and cultural contexts.
- The Science Essay (MIT) – If you want to go into more technical writing, this is the course you're looking for. It studies how to write essays about science and make your subject matter more approachable.
- Writing on Contemporary Issues: Culture Shock! Writing, Editing, and Publishing in Cyberspace (MIT) – This course teaches you how to write from a personal approach about popular culture. It also touches on the concepts behind publishing for the web.
- Advanced Essay Workshop (MIT) – For someone who already has experience in essay and non-fiction writing, this course further improves their skills by looking at identity and using it to develop good writing.
- Writing for the Web (MIT) – If you want to make a career in online writing, then this course can give you an idea what it's all about. It's not just about writing but also includes a bit about web design and structure.
- Planning Your Novel: Starting from Scratch (Stanford) – Do you have loads of ideas for a good story but don't know where to start? In this course, you'll be guided through the process of novel writing.
- Targeting Your Audiences: Finding Your Niche (NEWSU) – When it comes to writing for print and the internet, it's crucial that you know your audience. If you want your work to grab attention, understanding your readers is important.
- Principles of Research and Problem Solving (UMICH) – Research is a necessary part of writing that enhances the credibility and authority of a writer's word. This course can help them enhance their analytical, organizational and researching skills.
- What is good writing? (Open University) – Good writing doesn't just involve using the biggest word in the dictionary. This course focuses on finding how to explain concepts and delivering your message through your writing.
- Intensive Grammar Workshop (About) – Hone your grammar skills and understanding with this simple course. Refining your grammar is one of the basic steps in becoming a better writer.
- Free Writing Courses (Writers Helper) – The website offers three writing courses for free, specifically: Writing Verse For Children, Writing for the Web and Make Your Price Sell.
- Principles of Written English, Part 2 (BerkeleyX) – The course focuses on honing your essay writing skills, grammar correctness and editing. It's a good course for those who need to understand the basics of writing.
- Creative Writing: A Master Class – Learn through the insights of well-known authors. This course will hone your skills and deepen your knowledge of the writing craft.
- English 104: College Composition - Though this course focuses on academic writing, it still covers the basics that every writer should understand. It also teaches research and citation methods.
- Introduction to Writing: Academic Prose(USU)* –* An introductory course to academic writing. It hones the critical thinking faculty of students. Something every writer needs.
- Writing Basics 101 – If you're interested in earning a certificate, this course is probably what you're looking for. It covers all the basics and tracks your progress.
- Endless Story Ideas – Have trouble coming up with another story idea? This 3-day course can teach you techniques on how to generate ideas for your next story.
- The 12-Week Book Draft – Mary Adkins' course The 12-Week Book Draft is all about finishing your novel or memoir draft with clarity and joy. Adkins, a novelist with HarperCollins, shares her personal strategies and templates through beautifully produced video lessons coupled with live course meetings, instructor feedback, and an intimate, private community. She promises to get you "from page one to done," and as you'll see, plenty of her former students attest that whatever the magic is in her process, it works. The course also includes step-by-step material on signing a literary agent and getting published. This course is for narrative books only (novel and memoir).
Let us know more!
Have you taken any online courses about writing? We’re always looking for more opportunities to grow and learn. Let us know in the comments.