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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Creative Writing: The Craft of Character by Wesleyan University

1,623 ratings
470 reviews

About the Course

At 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....

Top reviews

Aug 10, 2016

I loved this course! Extremely useful and hands on. The course instructor was really impressive, both informative and empathetic, both arty and to the point. Totally admired her style of instruction.

Sep 25, 2020

The course was very well-structured and challenging. The instructor is very experienced and good, thus used relevant materials for this course, be it the guests, or the assignments, or the examples.

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401 - 425 of 463 Reviews for Creative Writing: The Craft of Character

By Andrea E M

May 30, 2019

Very helpful :)

By Vidhi D

Aug 13, 2020

I have quite a bit to say about the course.

Firstly, I know that there are delicate nuances and such to writing good, memorable characters, and the instructor has explained them pretty well, but I feel that the technicalities required to actually begin writing somewhat-good characters, and even those required to finish the requisite assignments were barely touched upon. The explanations seemed vague at the very best.

Secondly, about peer review. I reviewed over 30 assignments, and it is safe to conclude that many peers didn't understand the instructions or the grading rubric. For the former, one could say that the instructions were confusing and difficult to follow through for someone just starting off with creative writing. Moreover, many peers were just not interested in giving fruitful feedback and left words like "good," "." and the like. So that didn't help much.

Apart from these two points, the course was enjoyable. Thank you for reading.

By judy t

Aug 2, 2019

I would have given this course 5 stars except for the grading. The only reviewers of your work are fellow students. Some of them do a good job telling you what they liked about the writing and some do not just answering "yes or no" to questions asked. It would be nice if a TA or other students actually in the writing courses at Wesleyan read your work. I have learned a lot and I have liked the assignments but that is where the value has stopped. I know there are too many students for the faculty to grade or even read our work but it would be much more valuable if we really knew how we are doing. The discussion board is sporadically attended and really of no value. Feedback is important in writing and this is the part of these courses that is missing.

By Catherine B

Aug 10, 2016

The lectures in this class are well done and informative, and they provide a lot of good material. However, the assignment portion needs a lot of work. The instructions weren't clear for anyone taking the class which resulted in incredibly difficult grading. It was hard to even understand the basic ideas of what was required for an assignment.

I think the teacher very much needs to go back and change the wording of the assignments, add more information in the instructions, and also post an example to show what is expected since a lot of the assignments are very strange, like a describing a character without mentioning the character in any way.

By Deepak S R

Jul 23, 2020

This would be challenging one for you, since it is mainly on development of characters, dialogues for your fiction. The tutor is good and has deep sense on characterization, though I did feel some difficulty in getting the concrete idea or point encompassed in the lecture plan. Coming to assignments, as a learner, we have to give our strong reviews for our peers, but here most people wanted to get just grades for extra-certificate, it would be completely fine, if all participate seriously as well as attentive. I am going to apply what I extract from it, and yeah, anyway, it helped me. Thanks :0) coursera.

By sanika s

May 10, 2019

A very interesting course, provided great insights into the in-depth process of creating character. The assignments were challenging and the peer feedback was very beneficial. I just wish the course focused more on the technicalities involved in character creation. Many of the points raised in each module felt repetitive. More energy and engagement from the main instructor would also have been helpful. Overall a perfectly satisfactory course that really got me writing. Thank you to the instructor and all the guest writers for their time and effort.

By Sinny N

Nov 22, 2020

I wish the professor explanation were a little clearer, I always had to watch videos two or three times to take notes and understand what she was saying. Also, I know there's not a formula to create a good character, but I feel I missed a lot of it because I couldn't understand her, she talks a lot and uses little explanation and too much passage reading. I would have like the uses of character charts or templates, and more book terms definitions. Overall, there were a few videos that were very eyed opening, specially the ones with other writers.

By David R

Apr 24, 2021

The most helpful part of this course was the books that Amy Bloom recommended and sited during the lectures. While her descriptions of how to create compelling characters was interesting, I didn't come away from the course with specific exercises or tools I could use. Also, I put a lot of work into the assignments and was disappointed with the scant feedback I received from my peers. Some reviewers simply entered single letters in their question boxes so that they could score my work and move on. Is there some way to police that?

By Kristin L

Mar 5, 2017

The course information was great and the assignments were very helpful. What lost points for the course was not the content provided by Wesleyan, which was good, but the poor effort on the part of many of the fellow students to really work on constructive critiques. For each assignment I had at least one of the three peer reviews that was useless to me to improve my writing, sometimes more. There should be a way to rate critiques so that students can't move on if they don't do the work of critiquing well.

By Chaz G

Jan 25, 2017

As much as I enjoyed completing this course, as I've enjoyed every course in this program, this one feels less organised than the others simply in that the learning material doesn't clearly connect with the writing material and it was difficult to predict what the review criteria might be. I found myself guessing at the meaning of each week's modules before completing my assignments and more often than not I discovered little correlation between the videos and assignments.

By Björn R

Mar 16, 2021

I'm a bit torn when it comes to the review. The teacher and the material is all top notch, but the review system is seriously flawed. There are far too many non-serious students who leave useless reviews, i.e. just answering each review question with a dot or "yes", and there is no good way to report these reviewers, or to reject flawed or non-existent reviews. It's a real shame because you also get really great and helpful reviews from those who take this seriously.

By Caroline G

Apr 29, 2021

I like the approach but I was disappointed that, once again, only peer reviews were given. Getting feedback on time is complicated (not many students registered at the same time ?) and some reviews are clearly from people "just there for the credit" who don't take the time to read or give coherent feedback. I received the marvelous "qrt" as feedback on my last assignment.

Mixing peer reviews with the professor's (or his / her assistants) would be more appropriate.


Nov 22, 2020

The instructors were great. I learned a lot from them. Sadly, the reviews by other students were, in many cases, substandard. Some would give one-word answers while others just entered a period so the system would record a response. Since I am more interested in learning than in the certificate, I see no reason to pay for the course. I can get the same value by auditing the course. It would be most helpful if the responses were monitored.

By Michael H

Aug 16, 2016

Compared to other courses in the creative writing specialization, I felt that this one needs some improvement. The video lectures just didn't have enough meat to them. For example, in other courses in the specialization, there will be links to optional readings or videos, leading to a deeper understanding of the concepts. Some readings, for example, would be welcome to give example of great (or even not so great) characterization.

By Elizabeth E

Mar 12, 2017

I did come away with some good books/stories for reading, but would have like them to be included in the course the way it is in the Setting and Description module. I found the videos did not always lead up to the assignment, and I think the assignments could have been more clearly laid out. I still came away learning, but it did not feel very structured. To be fair, character is a sort of amorphous subject to begin with.

By John W

Apr 5, 2021

Like a lot of other reviewers have said the utility of this class is limited by the wide range of skills of students in it. That means both the work you review and the reviews of your work will vary in quality quite a bit. The lectures themselves are a bit meandering but I think it's mostly very hard to something both broad and substantive about art.

By subash G

Mar 3, 2017

If the week 4 was not there, i would have a 2 or even a 1 for this class.

Until week 4, there was very little connection between what we were watching and what we were asked to write assignments. And the assignments were also confusing and overly restrictive. There didnt seem to be any sense in why we were asked to write those.

By Finn C S

Dec 25, 2020

It was good , but in comparison to the other courses it had problems.

There was way too less of clear strucutre to follow and it was too much of just talking, with different authors. I would have liked to have a more organized and better structured theoretical input.

Also some of the assignments I did not find usefull.

By Jamaluddin K

Nov 6, 2019

The lectures were informative, but the end-of-week assignments were VERY poorly explained, generally had little to do with the week's lectures, and to add insult to injury had grading criteria that did not correspond with the points that were laid out in the instructions.

By Lauren V B

Mar 23, 2018

The first assignment was a lot of fun but the other three were a little confusing, as evidenced by the ever-recurring questions on the forum. The videos were usually really interesting though. Amy has a very pleasant voice but seems to rely on her notes a little too much.

By Thomas O

Feb 27, 2019

Not by far as good as the first module (Craft of Plot). This course seemed less planned and structured. The videos were mostly interviews that sort of touched upon the subjects but hardly ever got into detail. The assignments were often vague and harder to understand.


Jan 12, 2017

I found the assignment instructions to be quite confusing. Some of the questions asked for the peer-to-peer reviews were very unclear. I didn't feel the course, overall, offered the same level of content and knowledge that the Craft of Plot offered.

By Jeanette D

Feb 11, 2017

I think Judy Bloom is a brilliant writer. She is also an engaging instructor but I found it difficult at time to discern what the salient points or "take-aways" were from the lectures. I also found the assignment to be less than clear.

By Gabriel T

Apr 6, 2016

I've got the chance to practice writing and I've learned some interesting insights, but I think the instructor didn't put too much effort into this course. All there is to it are 'shop talks' and too little structure.

By Crystal M

Mar 19, 2017

I felt like the teaching was fairly abstract, and I had a difficult time figuring out how I was supposed to apply certain lessons. Overall, I did pick up several helpful hints, so the course was worth it.