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

Dates: any time

Duration: 8 hours

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 out of 954 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 Style

Your 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.


WEEK 1: 2 hours to complete

Meaning, Sense, and Clarity

Here in the first module we focus on putting pressure on your words so that they mean what you intend. We balance abstraction with the need to make good sense. And we discuss the first and last stylistic difficulty of any prose writer, being clear.

Introduction to Style
Introduction to Meaning, Sense, and Clarity
The Pyramid of Language
Shop Talk with Amity Gaige
Excellent Word Choice at Work
Assignment Overview
Feedback Expectations for the Specialization
A Note on Assignments
Promo Codes

WEEK 2 Writing with Nouns and Verbs

In the second module we look at the various parts of speech and how two of them—nouns and verbs—are the building blocks of good style and good narratives. By relying on nouns, we make the people, places, and things of the narrative world vivid. By relying on verbs we keep the story alive and in motion.

Introduction to Writing with Nouns and Verbs
Nouns and Verbs at Work
Close Reading of “Lord of Misrule”
A Conversation with Jaimy Gordon, Author of “Lord of Misrule”
Assignment Overview

WEEK 3 Economy

In the third module, having practiced putting words in, we learn to take them out. And why: for humor, for clarity, for cleanliness, and for that fleet quality of wit that makes a style irresistible.

Introduction to Economy
Shop Talk with Brando Skyhorse
Visiting Writer: Sophie McManus
Assignment Overview
Sophie McManus’s Informal List of Words and Phrases to Cut

WEEK 4 “No Ideas But in Things”

In the the final module of the course, we learn to balance the drive to get at ideas and feelings, with the need the story always has for concreteness, realness. We learn to express ideas in the form of physical things in a narrative world, to produce a style that speaks as much to the world of the senses as to the world of the mind.

An Introduction to Things
Respecting the Reader’s Mind
Shop Talk with Amy Bloom
The Reader-Writer Arc
Close Reading of “Song of Solomon”
Assignment Overview