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

4.7
stars
3,853 ratings
1,287 reviews

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

BM
Nov 4, 2019

The course was informative on how to build, structure and develop the plot of our own stories. It was also very helpful in guiding us through the editing process. A useful course for aspiring writers.

SD
Jul 13, 2020

It seems easy at the start; give it a week or two and you will be very surprised -- with yourself and your reaction to the feedback.\n\nThe instructions are easy to follow, the insights are priceless.

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26 - 50 of 1,265 Reviews for Creative Writing: The Craft of Plot

By Christie Y

Aug 1, 2020

This was the first Coursera course I tried and enjoyed it very much. I found the instruction very informative and practical. The writing exercises were helpful as far as forcing me to practice writing and exercise my creativity, which I don’t tend to do on my own. The only thing I was disappointed about is that I didn’t find other users’ feedback/reviews very helpful. I see the value in the process and understand that those individuals who may not yet have advanced writing (or English language) skills can improve those skills through feedback offered by users with better writing skills; however, it’s not really a two-way street. It would be nice if the platform could somehow be improved to ensure everyone benefits equally, such as by matching users by region and/or skill level (whether self-assigned or based on ratings assigned by other users over time).

By Michael H

Oct 22, 2016

I audited this course after completing two books - a novel and a memoir - that were going nowhere and fast.In both cases I knew I had a great story to tell, but I was telling it poorly. After taking Brando's course, I believe the biggest weakness in each story was my failure to appreciate not only plot generally, but the finer points he discusses here: show, don't tell; the five-act story; the 21 points of editing, and so forth. I've read Stephen King's "On Writing," but too often have dismissed the valuable information therein. Brando's course, both his own teaching and the valuable interviews, I know will make me a better storyteller and, will help me write compelling, plot-driven stories. Whether or not this leads to me getting published - well, hopefully someday I can thank Brando in an "Acknowledgements" page :)

By Patricia H V R

Aug 22, 2020

El curso en general, me hizo aportes muy valiosos que pude aplicar de manera práctica en los ejercicios académicos y creativos que realicé durante el proceso, los cuales me ayudarán mucho en mis producciones narrativas futuras. La metodología me pareció bastante buena, formativa y productiva.

Gracias al instructor, la Universidad y la Coursera, por este capítulo de conocimientos enriquecedores.

Patricia Helena Vélez.

The course in general, gave me very valuable contributions that I could apply in a practical way in the academic and creative exercises I did during the process, which will help me a lot in my future narrative productions. I found the methodology quite good, formative and productive.

Thanks to the instructor, the University and the Coursera, for this chapter of enriching knowledge.

By Erin H

Jan 22, 2017

Thumbs up! I haven't taken a writing class at university before, but I've written a lot over the last few years - I'm a bit of a self-taught amateur. I was looking for guidance in growing my storytelling abilities. I thought this class was fantastic for that, and I feel that I have some more tools in my belt moving forward. Not only that, this class made me excited about writing! I enjoyed the interviews that Brando did with other teachers. Brando as a teacher is fantastic, he is clear and concise, and you can tell he is passionate about writing. On top of that, he has a lovely kind demeanour, which made the videos a pleasure to watch. I would recommend this course to anyone who is looking for tools to advance their writing. I'm looking forward to the next class in this series on Character!

By Steve

Dec 24, 2019

The instruction is both brief, very practical and valuable. Assignments get right to the heart of the subject and developing essential skills. As the main instructor said, he worked on a book 18 years revising and reediting. It's great fortune to have access to his lessons learned and encouragement to meet the high standard of writing that makes for a readable/sellable book (not just something that gets published). I found the feedback from the three fellow writers who are t asked with reading and commenting on your samples in the course to be worthwhile. Students were generous with their time and tactful with feedback. It's a good way to be able to anonymously share writing and learn from each other. Great value if you're serious about improving your writing!

By Charles T

Jun 15, 2017

The instructional materials are excellent. The exercises are fun but less useful than they might be. I didn't get much out of writing about the desire for a physical object (how many real stories are there about this silly subject?) or a trip to the doctor's office. These exercises taught and reinforced the course's points about narrative structure, but they didn't help me invent a strong plot: one in which an interesting character has an interesting desire and faces interesting obstacles, with interesting actions leading to an interesting climax or anticlimax. Nor do the instructional materials focus on such issues. After giving some very good but brief advice about the basis of plot, they move on to other matters: narrative structure, show vs. tell, the elements of a good scene, how to edit a finished work--all worthwhile, but peripheral to the stated theme of plot. (Maybe the course title should be changed to "Introduction to fiction writing." That's really what you're doing here.)

The last exercise--write a 1000 word story which embodies everything we've taught you--is quite appropriate, but the three previous ones don't prepare you very well to do it.

By Valentina B

Mar 26, 2019

After completing this course successfully I still don't really understand what a rising action is exactly and the phrase "your story must include at least ten sentences of rising action" in the final task made almost no sense to me. I understand that peer review is used as a from of assessment for convenience in this course but judging from the reviews I gave myself and the reviews I received, its not very informative for the learner. I like the practice because it made me think about how other people interpret the information in this course, but I really wish some more expert form of assessment could be provided and possibly shorter simpler more targeted exercises throughout the four weeks.

By Rahsaan E

May 17, 2020

I found the course helpful. I would have loved feedback from the instructor in addition to peer reviews.

By mathieu j

Aug 26, 2020

I thought that your courses were available for free if you were not looking for certificate.

By Frank S

Dec 11, 2017

This course sucks and I am beginning to hate Coursera and everyone associated with it

By Shraddha R

Jun 13, 2020

Did not want to continue this course futher

By Marian F

Oct 12, 2016

A good course that I would recommend to everyone that want to follow a career in creative writing or to improve their passion.

It helped me to acknowledge things that you have to take in account when writing a book.I could not imagine some of this things when I was thinking about an action,and,how to put it on paper and sound good for the reader.

The assignments are very good and you can also complete them in audit only mode , but only for yourself , no one will revive you.

It`s not that easy to write something when you don`t know much things about the structures , how to build a character and so on , but , here you have everything you need and it`s free.

I finished the course in audit only mode but if you have the possibility to buy it , don`t hesitate.

By Vidhi D

Jul 21, 2020

The course in itself is really great. The writing assignments were particularly enjoyable, and even though the lectures consisted of only the basics of good writing, they really did help me with improving my writing skills.

I do have a word or two about the peer reviewed assignments. I have reviewed more than 40 assignments in the time I spent completing the course, and a few assignments were shoddily completed. Moreover, many peers did not give fruitful feedback on assignments. Few gave feedback that gave more insight than "." or "yes". Furthermore, in one week I submitted my story well before the deadline, yet received my grade late.

Apart from the peer review system, I really had a great time with the course! Thank you for reading.

By Anuprava B

Dec 18, 2018

As is repeatedly mentioned, the best part about this course is that it makes you think and get's you to start writing. The little points made (and advice's given) in the short lectures are useful. Like 'Show, don't tell', or the ABDCE structure. The fact that sometimes your developed character just does not want to do certain things and you should have the flexibility to do so. It is all very useful :) The only thing which I perhaps did not like was the quality of some reviews, which I felt were rushed. This is not the course Instructor's fault but maybe Coursera can find a better way to monitor it? Like perhaps flag the reviews that are half-heatedly done so that the author can get more serious reviews on their work.

By Ineke H

Mar 19, 2021

The content of the course deserves 5 stars. Usefull content presented in a logic and comprehensive way. The story I´m working on now benefitted from what I learned during this course.

Doing the peer reviews was a quite frustrating experience. Many students didn´t write in accordance with the given instructions. When you take the time to write a story I expect you try to do your best, at least when you know others have to spend time on reviewing your story.

The feedback that was given was sometimes nothing more than a yes or no to a question asked. Quite disappointing. I´m interested in the readers experience and that´s why I do my best when I write my submission.

3 stars at most for this part of the course.

By Guilherme A F

May 6, 2021

The content was great: simple yet practical. Of course it is only an introduction and anyone interested in creative writing should keep on practicing and studying. The only issue with the course is the avaliation system, where you're supposed to give/receive feedback from other students in order to be approved. Although it's a good idea, the absence of a mediator makes it kind of pointless, since most of the feedbacks turn out to be short, lazy answers instead of something actually useful.

By Timothy P

Jan 4, 2018

While it was good to get me writing, I didn't feel like any of the exercises really challenged me to think differently about plot than I already did. They felt a little tacky, 'use these ten words in a story' felt like I was in elementary school again. The one assignment I liked was when we were given a scenario (a poisoning happens halfway through the writing and the main character has to choose between getting what they want and the antidote), I liked that and think those prompts help you really think about plot and how to work with it.

By Yvette R

Mar 31, 2021

The material is good in all the courses. The weakness is in the feedback, the crucial part of this course. This is true of all Coursera's writing courses. There are NO moderators, although it appears there are. Years ago, Coursera shifted from a cohort-structured (everyone starts and stops at the same time together) to a rolling enrollment model, where people can start anytime. I see the benefit to the latter, but in the former model, I was in a course with a number of students and we stayed together throughout the various modules of that course. We got to know each other's writings. We actually created learning groups within the class. It was amazing.

No one is checking in on the courses. That allows one to receive feedback that is actually nonexistent. For example, in one course, here is the feedback I receive

y

1

1

Yes that was the three sets of feedback I received for one assignment. All three students received credit for this feedback. It wasn't the first time I received the number "1" as feedback.

Now the rolling enrollment model means you rarely see the same writer's work which doesn't allow the writer to have a reader who watches them evolve and provides feedback in a meaningful way.

Many of the questions asked by the instructor in the feedback were close-ended questions which meant students could provide simply a yes or no responses.

I gained from reading the material. I rarely gained any meaningful feedback (maybe 20% of the time) even though the course tells us that feedback is the key aspect of this course.

By Patrick N

Apr 5, 2021

I think I agree with most of the past comments about this course. It's an interesting introduction but lacking in real depth. Writing by numbers to make a sellable book was one comment. I was also disappointed in not getting feedback from more senior writers. Some of the writing you have to review is painful to read, not because it is written by non-native speakers but because the ideas aren't well developed. Still it is a useful course and I intend to complete it.

By Elizabeth S

Nov 6, 2016

I couldn't take the instructor seriously. There were too many comparisons to Harry Potter and various three and five act formulas. I wanted something that would be practical and adaptable to the ideas that I'm working on. This just wasn't the right course for me. The assignments felt like they were pointless as well.

By Liz K

Oct 24, 2016

Too prescriptive and prone to lists. "Do these 21 things when editing a novel". If that's what I was looking for, I could search the web for blogs. Maybe this was too beginner focused for me, but I'm not sure I learned anything really useful here.

By Charlotte V

Sep 27, 2016

Very basic course with an extremely limited view on what makes a good plot.

By Justine B

May 4, 2021

Some helpful material but a lot of it was superfluous. Also, you cant 'complete' the course until 3 other people have to review your final assessment before you can pass. This took a very long time and there are lots of posts up on the forum begging for people to review their work. This is a poor format and I would avoid doing classes like this again in the future. Also, because all your submissions are marked by peers, rather than anyone with any actual writing knowledge or experience (and with English as a second language in a lot of cases), the feedback you get often isn't helpful. Peer feedback definitely has it's place, but tutor feedback would have been the most useful. I am really disppointed I paid for this and would strongly discourage others from wasting money on this course or tutor.

By Betty A

Jul 30, 2016

Course is a little formulaic, had trouble making my submissions follow the structure outlined but still, I learnt some useful tips and actually got to just write something orderly.

Liked some of the visiting speakers (the third speaker who talked about character - mature lady, dark hair) was quite good. So was the first gentleman.

Overall, the course is ok but given the strict methodology and requirements for writing, I don't know if I'll make it through the specialisation.

Thank you for reading!

By Morgan

May 10, 2018

Instructor had no idea what he was talking about in his examples. Misused examples routinely, didn't understand their structure or plot. It was like he hadn't even read the examples he was using, someone just gave him notes he was reading off. The other courses have good instructors, I can see why they didn't offer this guy a permanent teaching job.