Craft Your Story Like the Great Writers
Craft an original story that will absorb a reader’s interest from the beginning to end.
About This Specialization
Follow the suggested order or choose your own.
Designed to help you practice and apply the skills you learn.
Highlight your new skills on your resume or LinkedIn.
- Beginner Specialization.
- No prior experience required.
Creative Writing: The Craft of PlotCurrent session: May 22 — Jun 26.
- 4 weeks of study, 1-2 hours/week
- English, French
About the CourseIn 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.
Creative Writing: The Craft of CharacterUpcoming session: May 29 — Jul 3.
- 4 weeks of study, 2-4 hours/week
About the CourseAt 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.
Creative Writing: The Craft of Setting and DescriptionCurrent session: May 22 — Jun 26.
- 4 weeks of study, 1-3 hours/week
About the CourseIn 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.
Creative Writing: The Craft of StyleCurrent session: May 22 — Jun 26.
- 4 weeks of study, 2-4 hours/week
About the CourseYour 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.
Capstone: Your StoryUpcoming session: Jul 10 — Sep 18.
- 7 weeks of study, 3-5 hours/week
About the Capstone ProjectEverything 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, characterization, 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.
Frank B. Weeks Visiting Professor of English
Distinguished University Writer in Residence and Director of the Shapiro Center for Creative Writing
Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing
Visiting Scholar in Creative Writing