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

4.7
stars
2,408 ratings
805 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

MM

Dec 01, 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 16, 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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601 - 625 of 790 Reviews for Creative Writing: The Craft of Plot

By Ryheb Y

Apr 12, 2018

Great

By Nay W L

May 08, 2020

nice

By sameer k

Oct 05, 2018

bj

By Henry W

Aug 23, 2017

T

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 Wanda J

Jun 23, 2017

I enjoyed this course very much. The professor's lectures were easily understood and followed, and the guest speakers made each module much more clear. My only problems with the course were actually not with the course itself, but rather with the way the course is presented. Some things have been changed since the last time I took a Coursera course, namely the discussion forums, and personally I don't like the change. (Maintaining the same discussion forum, rather than having a new one for each successive group of learners. ) Learners are already being presented with a lot of information which, in some cases, can be difficult to grasp, and now they are also being asked to search through the forums to find someone they can ask for help, who may or may not still be around. Between that and trying to figure out where/who to ask for reviews so that you can get a grade for your work, it's a bit frustrating, All in all though, it's a good course.

By Yuko M

Sep 21, 2017

Great course with clear instructions mostly by watching a video (with text). I truly enjoyed this course and how thorough it was. I especially like the structure of the video--introduction, example, and interview with a novelist. Contrary to the course description, it's not meant for non-fiction writers. It's meant exclusively for aspiring novelists. I would recommend this course if you are a beginner. Intermediate or advanced students would find this too basic. It's beneficial mostly if you want to earn a certificate and mention it on your resume. If you're looking for a comprehensive course, I would look elsewhere because the course only touches the surface. Workshopping lacked constructive input from peers so if you're looking for peers to review your work, don't count on it. Teachers don't critique your work either. But, overall, course is well made, clear and a great boost for aspiring writers (beginner stage, though).

By Carlos A M

Jan 08, 2017

I liked the way Mr. Skyhorse explains the secrets to construct a great plot. It was excellent in every sense of the word. However, my only complain of this course it's that you can't report those "funny" peers that write "reviews" like this one:

" ' "

It's so unfair that some of us, the real students, took our time to write detailed reviews about every peer assignment AND expected at least WORDS as reviews. You need to implement some kind of report system to ban those "funny" peers that only check your work to put the point and to get their course done. And to start that "system" I will tell you that:

SHOKRY MOHAMED FATHALLAH EL SAYAR

That guy, gave me reviews as I described before. Not only in this course, but in The Craft of Character. So PLEASE, someone needs to make justice and punish this guy. I can even send you captions of his "reviews."

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 02, 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 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 K

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 Klurisa H

Sep 08, 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 Rachel S

Dec 09, 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 Kajal B

Jun 08, 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 Sampo B

Oct 14, 2016

This course is great for everyone interested in working on their writing skills, whether you're a beginner or more experienced. As a novice writer I learned about several useful tools that will help me improve my writing, got a lot more practice, and having a schedule helped me improve my daily routine for writing. For me the most valuable part was getting feedback and learning through analysing other people’s work. Oh, and just because the description says 1-2 hours of work per week doesn't mean you can't do a lot more!

By Elizabeth E

Feb 01, 2017

The exercises are good, and the material is clear. I really like that the students have to review each other's work. I found the feedback helpful, and I found reading other people's work helpful too. I really would like a teacher to grade me as well though. There were a couple of times that I wasn't certain that I fully understood what I was doing, so to have me grade someone else left me feeling unguided and unqualified to assign a grade. I believe I got feedback saying just that at least once.

By A.m.

Mar 24, 2016

Pretty good class; good information. The classmates are engaged and have good feedback to give.

I'm frustrated at the lack of instructor (or even staff presence) until at least week 3, when finally a staff member answered *one* of the many student questions that have been piling up.

Students are a great resource for critiquing work, but we can't help each other with technical questions, or with assignment clarifications. So there *definitely* needs to be staff on hand for that.

By Gabriel T

Apr 06, 2016

Brando did a great job in presenting a structure for plot. I think his insights are valuable and he did tried to offer practical guidelines writers can use.

What I didn't like was the reviewing of the assignments. Some times I didn't receive valuable feedback ( the same sentence copy/pasted in every section) and someone failed me for not understanding my intentions because he was not an English speaker.

Away from that, I really liked Brando, his style, and his involvement.