It’s great to be constantly learning and improving as a fiction writer. But going back to school to get a Master’s degree 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.
17 Best Online Creative Writing Courses
1. ProWritingAid Academy
Brilliant writers aren’t born, they’re made. Writing is a skill that can be developed, just like any other, and ProWritingAid’s brand new learning platform is here to help.
With a ProWritingAid Academy membership, you get a unique combination of:
- Self-paced courses
- Live monthly 30-day writing challenges with daily exercises
- Exclusive live training workshops
- Support, inspiration, and constructive feedback from a community of like-minded students and instructors
Here’s a peek at our course library!
2. The Novelry’s Online Writing Courses
Go from zero to finished novel in one year. The Novelry’s 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, then onto writing the 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.
3. Jerry Jenkins’ Your Novel Blueprint
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 $3,000, 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!
4. 100 Day Book by The Write Practice
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?
5. Mark Dawson’s Ads for Authors
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.
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.
You used to be able to purchase individual classes 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.
7. Creative Writing: The Craft of Plot
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.
8. Grammar Lion: A Grammar Refresher
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 a 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.
9. Curtis Brown Creative
Curtis Brown Creative offers a variety of courses to suit everyone. From writing crime novels, to writing your novel in three months, there are helpful options for every type of writer.
They launched in 2011 with the aim of finding talented writers and helping them to develop and publish their novels. The courses range in price from £125 to almost £2,000, depending on the the number of sessions offered.
10. Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing 101
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.
11. Lauren Ranalli’s Think Beyond the Book
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 incredibly helpful in the exclusive Facebook group.
12. Build Your Author Platform by WritePublishSell
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. WritePublishSell’s program, Building Your Author Platform, teaches the steps to creating and growing that fan base.
13. C.S. Lakin’s Emotional Mastery for Fiction Writers
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 masters of emotion.
That’s where C.S. Lakin’s course, Emotional Mastery for Fiction Writers, comes in. Learn how to become an emotion master.
14. Creative Writing Specialization
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 completing a substantial original story in the genre of your choosing. Check it out now!
15. Bookfox’s Two Weeks to Your Best Children’s Book
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.
16. Pandemic University
Pandemic University is a pop-up writing school made 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 ranging 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 percent off using the code PROWA25.
17. Conquer Writer’s Block
What if you could sit down in front of the blank page every day feeling optimistic and full of ideas? What would writing a blog post, article, or book chapter consistently do for your career? What if you had a writing system that helped you achieve all this and so much more?
That’s what Bryan Collins of Become a Writer Today can help you do. His course, Conquer Writer’s Block, gives you the skills you need to conquer the blank page in front of you.
Creative Writing Courses: FAQs
Here are our answers to some common questions about how to pick a creative writing course.
Creative Writing Classes for Adults: How to Choose One
With so many options to consider, you should make sure you’re choosing the best online writing courses for your own goals as a writer. You should ask yourself:
- Is there a specific skill you’d like to learn more about (e.g. plotting, character development, grammar, publishing, marketing, etc.)?
- Do you want a class with set meeting times, or a self-paced class where you can have a flexible schedule?
- Would you prefer a class with a lot of students or fewer students?
- Do you want to receive feedback on your own writing?
- Do you need an instructor who will be available to answer questions?
- How much money are you willing to invest in a writing course?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you narrow down the list of options. After that, you can read reviews online and see what other students are saying about each course to help you decide which one best suits your needs.
Which Creative Writing Courses Are the Best for Beginners?
There are plenty of online creative writing courses for beginners. If you’re new to writing, ProWritingAid Academy is a fantastic place to start. You get access to writing lessons suitable for all levels, and you can work your way through them as you learn more.
You can also start with a free course on Coursera, like The Craft of Plot. Taking a free class can be a great starting point. Down the line, you can always choose a more advanced course to invest your money in.
Is a Creative Writing Course Worth It?
Creative writing classes are a great fast-track for improving your skills. They can help you hone specific aspects of your writing craft. They’re also a great way to meet other emerging writers so you can learn and grow together.
If you choose the right course for you, an online writing class can be well worth your time and money.
What are your favorite writing courses? Let us know in the comments.
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