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

4,760 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


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.


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.

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26 - 50 of 1,607 Reviews for Creative Writing: The Craft of Plot

By Benjamin W W

Sep 20, 2020

Signed up for Creative Writing: The Craft of Plot on a whim, not knowing the Coursera Platform or much about The Wesleyan Creative Writing Certificate Track.

I was ever in for a TREAT!

This has become the first step forward in my professional writing career. During the first course, I finished a 25-page Fan fiction manuscript. Quick disclaimer, I came with 3 of 7 chapters to the class. But used the four-module assignments to write and perfect the next 4 chapters of my Superman Fan Fiction story. I’m elated with what I have now.

I have decided to continue the track and I enjoy give peer reviews so I’m looking into creating a Coursera Account to apply to become a Coursera Mentor in an upcoming course.

Brando Skyhorse is absolutely wonderful to learn from and his lectures are all logical and easy to follow. You get what you put into this. Go ahead and apply yourself! And do the entire track!

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 Anonymous L

Oct 13, 2022

I give it one star, because the learning platform is full of fake accounts, and that's a problem when the whole system is built on peers reviewing your assignments. Either the fake reviewers fail you altogether, or if you're lucky, they just write a letter in the comments box in which case you pass, but get no constructive feedback. Another issue is that old assignments are still in circulation for reviews - I have been asked to review 2 assignments that were posted in 2017! It's now 2022.

This might sound like an unfair one star, since fake reviewers have nothing to do with the quality of the course, but I do believe that the people who are running the course and the platform have a responsibility to make sure current learners get the best experience, for this is not a free course. Get rid of the fakes, and get rid of the old assignments!

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 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 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 Nathan A L

Jun 6, 2022

There is absolutely not logic to Coursera's websites. There are no instructions for how to access other student's assignments to review them. There are no instructions explaining why some students are able to link their assignment elsewhere for "anonymous" review. For a business that also has courses on simplying apps and websites, Coursera is a joke. Also, many of the transcriptions are so poor, they defy basic grammar and spelling rules that even a seven-year-old would catch. Either make proceeding through your courses simple and logical or continue to lose students like me who don't have an MIT computer science degree. Shame on Coursera!

By Kathleen B

Jun 27, 2019

I completed my four assignments...I reviewed the work of others. Every time I log in I get a message that tells me I can finish in another two hours.... Finish what? I think I am finished, and can't find what more is required. I contacted Coursera. I chatted...the lady told me I was finished and that I would get a grade. I haven't gotten a grade.

So I'm out of here. I loved the coursework. It was excellent. I absolutely hate the website. Udemy works!

By C. M K

Sep 7, 2022

TL;DR If you are thinking twice reading bad reviews, just enroll it. If you want to know why, read on. Course Content - I have read a ton of articles on writing fiction and was familiar with the concepts such as Freytag's Pyramid etc. even before enrolling the course. However, the way the content is delivered, the choice of words during lecture videos and the way the assignments are structured will really help you a great deal. So, even when they say the content are basics, it is still very helpful. Lecturer - I adore him! His voice and the way he delivers speech is very concise and clear. You wouldn't feel sleepy or boring. His examples are top-notch. I would enroll any other course by him if there is any. Assignments - It's structured perfectly. I read in forums that some find it difficult for certain prompts but that is the point of these exercises. If you want to be a professional fiction writer, you should be able to write more often, not only when you are in full mood and these exercises would help you with that a lot. On top of that, each assignment is really coherent with what the course has delivered. Peer Review - It is unfair to say that this course is bad just because you don't get graded by the lecturer. There are a ton of courses out there where the lecture would personally grade your works, on Oxford continuing educaiton, Standford online courses etc. The point is those courses would cost you from 500 USD to 1,200 USD. So if you are looking for valid feedback, go for these courses. I did see that some complaint about peer reviewers who didn't make any effort. And sadly, that's how the world is. Try not to be one of them. Review other works as you would want your works to be reviewed. Don't say all nice things just to encourage them. Point out what's lacking but do it politely. A paractical tip that worked for me is that instead of just reviewing what the system promopted in peer review tab, go to the discussion forum and review those posted by the writers. When they post their assignment links in the forum, it means they are more serious than others. And after you reviewed them, you can reply your link and request them to review so that you would give more constructive feedbacks than random ones. You could also post it in forum yourself. Don't be discouraged by those who just filled up one letter for each box. Or those who do not seem to understand what fiction is. For example, for one of my assignments, two reviewers said the inciting incident was placed properly while another said s/he couldn't find it. However, take constructive feedbacks seriously. Some really made the effort to give you proper feedback so listen to them. Summary - This is a course worth enrolling. And another tip. If you want the cerificate but don't want to pay, try the free trial. It would give you the full course including certs for a week. I finished this course in six days though it is supposed to be one month course. You can cancel your free trial once you've downloaded the certificate. Hope this helps!

By B E

Nov 30, 2020

Excellent course material. Brandon Skyhorse is an excellent teacher. I truly enjoyed the work and progress I have made with my writings.

BEWARE! If you are paying for this course or the specialization that comes with four other courses. BEWARE! If you are visually impaired and have your laptop or computer set up for visually impaired. BEWARE! BEWARE! BEWARE!

The app nor the online through google chrome do not work well when set up for the visually impaired. Buttons you need to see and click disappear so that you have to click around in a dark blue banner and hope you can find the forum.

Your grade and your payments depend on other students. STUDENTS that you have no control over and no way to get them to do work. YOUR work MUST be reviewed by other students to receive your grade and for the charges to your credit card to stop.

So, if you are visually impaired and autistic and not interested in being 'study buddies' with people you do not know and will not ever meet, I suggest you only get the free class and forgo getting any specialization or certificates as you will not be able to find the forums to ask for help when you need them and your credit card will charged over and over until you get a student to do the work of reviewing your work.

By Gwendolyn H

Mar 15, 2024

I enjoyed the videos and the assignments and feel I learned from the class. The assignments effectively reinforced the lessons. The lectures and interviews felt at times all over the place, but somehow during the assignments, it would come together. I would have liked to give half a star off for the poor peer review process. In an ideal world, the process could work. However, most of the feedback I got from other students consisted of stuff like "ghkghk" in the required answer spaces. Looking at the class boards, this has been pointed out as a problem for years, so I don't see that changing. The bright spot in the peer review process, was that I put an effort into reviewing when it was my turn to review other students work, and I think that helped me as much as the students' whose work I reviewed.

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 Deleted A

Jul 18, 2021

Brando Skyhorse is a lovely gentleman with amazing baggage. In this course, he goes through the fundamental features of a story, as well as some valuable tools that enable the writer to properly tell them. His explanations are methodically layout in bite-sized lessons the learner can effortlessly jam into their routine. His language is accessible with a wise choice of words. The assignments were exciting to undertake, and reviewing peers proved itself to be an edifying task. Creative Writing: The Craft of Plot answered some questions that had been mulling over my mind for a long time. It was surprisingly useful for me to carry on with the writing of my current book and - hopefully - many others to come.

By James C

Jun 29, 2021

Excellent course with very useful aids for learning how to build plot structure. Please note, as for many of the humanities courses on Coursera, the feedback you get from other students can be very uneven, so you are relying on your own intuition most of the time when assessing your progress. As with any subject, practising the craft is the only way to hone it.

By Allan P

Jul 7, 2021

Excellent way to boil down a methodology for crafting plot. IF YOU FOLOW THESE GUIDELINES to this discipline, and actually do the (difficult) work of editing your own (many) initial drafts (mercilessly), you will see a remarkable difference in your work right away. ESSENTIAL technique. The work of using it will always be very hard, but it works!