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

4.7
stars
4,745 ratings

About the Course

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....

Top reviews

DA

Nov 30, 2016

Great course to take as the first step in the sequence of the "Creative Writing" certification. Exercises are fun, professor provides useful methodology, load is manageable for someone with a day job.

LB

Nov 15, 2018

Great information about plot and scene structure. The information about revision was entirely new to me - thank you! The exercises were good and difficult in a good way that helped me hone my writing.

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1251 - 1275 of 1,601 Reviews for Creative Writing: The Craft of Plot

By Julio B

Oct 13, 2020

Among the best online introductory plot courses you're like to find. Brando Skyhorse is an outstanding teacher and writer. And the guest lecturers were outstanding as well.

As a teacher myself, I thought some of the assignments needed some tweaking, but, overall, they were solid exercises. And the students seem lovely.

Suggestions:

1) Make it a LIVE WORKSHOP style class. It would make for a lot of fun. Of course, you'd need the teacher present and interacting with the students, and that might prove problematic and impractical.

2) Make a certain level of English language proficiency a prerequisite for enrolling in the course. This is probably impractical as well given the open access nature of the course, but it would make understanding the stories less challenging. Still, I love the open access aspect of this offering, because I love interacting with students from around the world, both as a student and lecturer.

By Jay K S

Jan 24, 2022

I really enjoyed this course. I feel that I learned some valuable lessons. Top takeaways for me are:

1) include an action in the first paragraph

2) ABDCE

3) 21 point editing checklist

The one improvement I would suggest is including the rubric with the assignment. A couple times during the course I was not clear on what the assignment was, and I left out simple things. For instance, on the last assignment, I did not include two questions for my reviewers. This is because I misinterpreted the assignment. I thought I was supposed to get one or two "trusted reader" to help me with the editing process and give them the two questions rather than include the questions in the assignment submission. I did not learn I was wrong until I read the rubric to review other people's assignments. By then it was too late for me ta add the questions to my assignment.

By Elizabeth P

Aug 8, 2020

I learned a lot about the basics of creative writing through this course. If you're thinking of writing, but you're not sure where to start, or if you have been writing a while but need more direction, this is a great course to take. The instructor, Brandon, explains the concepts in a way that's easy to understand and uses examples from common literary works. My only problem with the course is the peer review system. It's a great opportunity to reflect on your own writing while reviewing others' work, however I feel that not many people took advantage of this opportunity. I've had some good feedback, some not so helpful, and some people who just put a single letter "z" in the feedback answer boxes just to get through the peer review section. Maybe implementing a minimum word count for the peer review would help.

By Ryan K

Sep 16, 2020

Brando's guidance through the course was insightful and easy to digest, and the module assignments were enjoyable. Some of the 'Shop Talk' videos felt a little unstructured and it wasn't always evident just what they added to the learning experience -- other than reinforcing the topics described in the direct teaching segments.

The primary challenge with this course is the feedback system. Even though the approach to feedback is detailed in a standalone video, the substance of each review varies from one-word answers that offer zero tangible feedback, to detailed responses with a clear understanding of the course material. This is ultimately a critique of the Coursera platform, however as peer feedback is a vital part of this course, more emphasis could be made on the value of offering a substantive review.

By Peter P

Sep 25, 2016

This "Craft of Plot" class--taught by Mr. Skyhorse--covers the ABDCE method, the 21 point checklist, etc. Stories written in this class must have dialogue, at least ten points of rising action, and must begin with an action sequence. No, this is not an "organic" story writing method. This class teaches students how to use formulaic writing to artificially engineer stories efficiently and effectively. I was very disappointed with this class. I enjoy reading literary fiction, especially stories in The New Yorker. So it is no surprise that I was appalled by Mr. Skyhorse's strong focus on, and praise of, the Harry Potter book series. If you plan on writing formulaic genre fiction, then perhaps this class is for you. Even though I disliked the class, I must admit it was well taught, hence the 4/5 star review.

By Yogesh N

Mar 10, 2016

The video lectures are very nicely done. They outline the basics of how a story line (Plot!) should be, how the characters should be developed and how scenes should be depicted.

The tips given are practical and clearly defined - even for noobs

The course motivated me to write, to refine my thoughts while writing and since there was always pressure of peers reviewing my work - I always revised what I wrote. I discovered that revision helps immensely, and I found I could express the same things in better ways and using lesser words

Some students did have difficulties in understanding assignments - something that can get better with time. Also, I felt some learners received the brunt of bad grading since the grading guidelines weren't clear. Shaving off 1 star due to that

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 salima h

Mar 23, 2016

Good class, good lectures. The plot devices taught are very specific, but helpful for beginning writers for whom conflict, and movement are not easy. I'm a beginning writer and I struggle with finishing a story because at some point I just think, well now what? what's supposed to happen?

The class helps you push the characters into conflict, and make choices, which is the heart of a good story.

My only complaint - the assignments were so structured that they were tedious. the peer reviews in this class were also painful. Reading other people's work, I felt like perhaps we needed less structure and more space to practice simpler techniques.

But overall, i'm using what I've learned in my writing, and its definitely helped!

By Autumn K

Jan 17, 2023

I audited the course! It was a super interesting listen and had a lot of good thoughts to be shared. Because I audited it, I couldn't see the assignments but I found what I did listen to very insightful and interesting. It was cool to hear different ideas about what plotting looks like for different authors. The course ends with a few hands on steps for editing a plot which I took note of and am excited to try using sometime! I would have loved to see more broadly applicable stuff like that throughout the videos (of course, I am unsure if they showed them in the assignments but if it was woven through the videos, perhaps that might help with further cementing the techniques shown in the assignments!).

By Sumita F

Oct 29, 2018

The first 3 weeks of lectures were really useful for starting off the writing process with focus-very clear material with very clear instructions. The remaining lectures flagged a bit--too many guests made it distracting. I think it would have been more useful to keep reinforcing the Rising Action-Scene structure and ABDCE structure with more solid examples. I did like the questions posed for reviewing other writers works, it made the review very constructive. However, it was also evident that some students were not following directions for the assignment and submitting "something" in the hopes of scoring a 1. How does Wesleyan university maintain a standard for submission?

By Karen P

Sep 13, 2019

I really enjoyed this course. Brando Skyhorse is an excellent teacher and provided a lot of practical advice on how I can improve my writing. The writing exercises/prompts were also very insightful and made for good practice. The only aspect I found lacking was the peer reviews on the exercises, which is no fault of this course's creators. I received several one-word responses in the feedback section which benefits no one. If you're going to take this course and expect others to read and analyze your work, please return the favor! So just a caveat, you may not receive any (useful) feedback on your work but you will be provided with helpful materials in the course itself.

By Diana S

Dec 27, 2022

I loved the classes. Prof. Skyhorse was very clear and provided excellent examples to support the structures he was sharing. The conversations with other writers and teachers were perfect as well. I enjoyed the assignments and liked the fact that the requirements were very specific so I could avoid writer's block. However, I was very disappointed with the peer review process. Many of the people who reviewed my assignments didn't leave any feedback or just wrote random letters, suggesting they just wanted to get it out of the way. So, if you're thinking about taking the course, please really commit to this process because it will help you and your peers improve.

By Klurisa H

Sep 8, 2016

The course work is easy to follow, full of great information and very clear. The only thing I find inconsistent is the reviewing of others work. It seems no-one ever gets reviewed by the same person twice, which means the standard of reviews is varied and inconsistent. Also, many people may not be/feel qualified enough to review or feel bad about failing someone so wont. There can be a great deal learned by having mentors or qualified teachers review the work. Given that, I have learned a great deal in this course and understand, and think it's one of the best online courses I've seen. I also understand you get out what you put in. Thanks for the opportunity.

By Kelly K

Sep 15, 2020

I learned so much through this course! And am excited to be moving on to the next one. Take the time to really absorb what you are being taught. Make sure to watch the author "Spotlight" videos - so many good lessons are in them. The reason for 4 instead of 5 stars is because of the Peer Review system and the forums in general. Both systems need work and the forums need a moderator. Sometimes feedback consists of "good", or "k" and as a writer, how am I supposed to use that kind of critique to improve my writing? Forums are rampant with "REVIEW MY STORY!!!" and very little actual discussion about what we learned that week which was disappointing.

By Rachel S

Dec 9, 2016

I enjoyed this course. Brando's videos were great, I took lots of notes and used them to help complete the assignments. Over the years I've picked up books on the craft of writing but I find the motivation of deadlines to be a big help in actually creating a writing practice. The videos are short- the time commitment is really not bad. Reader feedback can be more or less involved, I did find a pretty good mix. It'd be nice if you could keep pace with the same group of students but people are entering at different times within a range so you can't keep up with individuals unless you want to spend a lot of time tracking them down.

By Casey

Mar 18, 2016

Lots of great information. Most helpful for me was the story structure. My whole life I've been taught the same structure, either the 3-Act Hollywood Standard as told by Blake Snyder and Vikki King, or Chris Vogler's The Mythic Structure. It was nice to have a new approach. My only disappointment is that many genres, although follow a similar story structure, each genre has genre-specific elements. I was hoping that I'd learn the particularities of horror, mystery, comedy, and others. There doesn't seem to be much genre-specific information available online, except fantasy and erotica.

By Jessica O

Aug 31, 2016

I enjoyed this course. Brando did a good job in breaking down the important aspects of plot and providing examples. I liked that lessons were concise. Each one contained roughly three videos, most less than 10 minutes. I thought this was very beginner friendly. I found Feyman's pyramid and Alice Adam's ABDCE of plot structure particularly useful and I especially enjoyed the Shop Talk videos where fellow writers discussed their approach to writing. I only audited this course, but it bugged me that my board kept displaying overdue assignments when that feature was locked.

By Surabhi P N

Feb 17, 2016

I finished this course in a single day in roughly about 8 hours, including taking notes and doing writing assignments. The material is quite good, more geared towards the beginner to the concepts of Plot. But, in my favorite parts - the interviews with Amity Gaige and Amy Bloom, I discovered new sides and tones to Character and Setting. And, they now compel me towards doing the rest of the courses in this specialization.

I really wish I could submit my assignments even without the certificate version of the course.

Thank you Mr. Skyhorse and the Coursera team. :)

By Alexandra W

Sep 28, 2021

I really enjoyed this course. Reading other people's work was a lot of fun and getting input on my writing was invaluable. I also liked the lecture videos and the ability to complete the assignments in one sitting. On the other hand, I felt somewhat restricted by the brevity as well. Perhaps if the course could be expanded to 6 or 7 weeks and the assignments could be slightly longer there could be more interaction and feedback. It would also allow for assignments to be maybe 1,500 to 3,000 words and allow for more description and character development.

By kajal b

Jun 7, 2017

This is a fantastic course especially when it comes to learning regarding the technicalities of plot and how to structure your plot in various ways. The best part of the course is it dares you to change your narrative style from passive to active, which could be quite difficult but is a great experience. The course is intriguing and instructions are clear with amazing examples. Not only did I learn to structure my plot and my story coherently, this course enabled me to acquire a deeper understanding of various texts that I read, which is fantastic!

By Susan

Oct 24, 2019

The course contains valuable essential information, clearly delivered. I appreciated having regular assignments and deadlines. I would have preferred that my work was reviewed by mentors, and not by peers. As students, we are all trying to learn as we go; and I could have benefited from more experienced guidance. I also wish there was a direct way to ask for content clarification, rather than the Discussion section. Perhaps there was, and I just didn't see it. Over all, the course was absolutely worth my time and I would recommend it.

By Gabriel L

Jul 5, 2020

This is a very well crafted course! I enjoyed it a lot and now I'm more excited to keep going with the specialization. Also, Brando Skyhorse is such a nice teacher!

As other people have reviewed, I did miss professional feedback. I mean, I really enjoyed all the tips my peers gave me and I'm really grateful for them. However, professional feedback would be so helpful.

In summary, this course has helped me a lot to start developing the habit of writing and writing every draft better. Thank you so much for everyone involved in this amazing course! ;)

By Vicky E

Jul 26, 2021

The course itself was very good. The speaker clear and relevant. I also enjoyed the writing tasks, especially after such a long break from writing. The reason I am only giving it 4 stars though is that on the peer review tasks, other users can give poor feedback which is of no use to other students. Commenting "good" in each box, and not even attempting to address the questions/prompts is pointless. It would be good to be able to flag these users and if the user received several reports, perhaps they could get reviewed by the Coursera team.

By S J P

Jan 10, 2021

I loved the course. The videos were concise and helpful. The assignments had tight word counts, but they were purposeful. I’m really pleased with what I was able to produce. The only drawback for me was the lack of conscientious feedback. For the first three assignments, I received a few thoughtful comments from one or two of the reviewers. For the last and most important assignment, the feedback was perfunctory, one word sentences like “yes” and “good.” I plan to complete the whole 5-part creative writing specialization.

By Medha R

May 22, 2023

The course material provided by the university was thought provoking insightful. The assignments were engaging and helped me identify and exercise by writing muscles. The peer review system was both a success and a failure. When learners actually put in the effort to give illuminating feedback, it was a genius system. However, there are many who enroll simply to get a certificate and do not give their time and consideration to reading and giving feedback to people's assignments. Overall, it was an interesting experience.