Online course: Creative Writing: The Craft of Plot (part of the Long term online programme Creative Writing)

Dates: any time

Duration: 6 hours

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 out of 3673 ratings (see top rating courses here)

Participating countries: anyone can apply

Apply: Here

Organizer: Wesleyan University at Coursera


  • FREE
  • $49 with sharable certificate

Creative Writing: The Craft of Plot

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.


WEEK 1 Plotting a Course

In this module, we’ll learn essentials about plot definitions and mechanics. What is plot? How does plot shape a narrative? What makes a strong plot? How is plot different from a story? We’ll also discuss how plot works in actual books you’re probably familiar with, such as the Harry Potter series, how character and action equals plot, and the five key questions you should ask yourself when creating a dynamic character.

What Is Plot?
How Plot Works in Harry Potter
Character + Action = Plot
Feedback Expectations for the Specialization
A Note on Assignments
Promo Codes

WEEK 2 The Power of Structure

In this module we’re going to learn what story structure is and how by understanding structure you can learn how to sequence the events in your plot to help maximize your own storytelling abilities.We’ll talk about Freytag’s pyramid, the five act structure, how that structure can be found in works of classic literature, and have a conversation about how structure and outlines can help organize the stories you want to tell.

What Is Structure?
ABDCE Structure Examples from Famous Works of Literature
Visiting Writer: A Conversation with Douglas Martin

WEEK 3 A Scene in Motion

Scenes are the building blocks of storytelling. But what is a scene? And how does a scene move plot forward? In this module we’ll learn about the difference between telling and showing, the five key elements each scene should have, offer some examples of effective scenes, and have a conversation about how setting and description can make a scene come alive.

What Is a Scene?
Examples of Effective Scenes
Shop Talk with Amity Gaige

WEEK 4 Cut It Out

This modules deals with the specifics of editing and revising your work. This process of revision starts with the first draft (which will now become your second draft) and continues until the manuscript’s ready to send to an agent. Included here are a twenty-one point checklist on what to do once you have a completed first draft, and conversations about creating characters with strong motivations, and how to define language that gets rewritten vs language that gets cut.

Editing and Revision
Shop Talk with Amy Bloom
Shop Talk with Salvatore Scibona
The 21st Point