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

4,758 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


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.

The instructions are easy to follow, the insights are priceless.


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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51 - 75 of 1,607 Reviews for Creative Writing: The Craft of Plot

By Harish K

Jun 26, 2021

The course was excellent. More so because of Brando Shyhorse's personal involvement. His ABDCE technique of constructing the plot of a novel was simply superb.

By Jamica F

Jun 22, 2021

This course was short, sweet and enjoyable. It gives you enough information to start writing good stories.

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 Billi T

Jun 28, 2023

Wonderful lessons, I really feel like I can walk away having learned something valuable. My only gripe is the peer review, which can be frustrating with some of the other students who leave zero feedback and fail your paper.

By Daniel Y

Jul 26, 2020

The videos were very entertaining and informative. The assignments gave structure to how one would write with restrictions that no beginner would think of using.

The other writers, however, served as a hindrance and a headache with only a few gems in the barrel of word soup. I could feel my craft deteriorating with every jungle of adverbs, sentence fragments and broken English. Most of my peers barely bothered to look at the instructions, and keep their stories under the word limit, forcing me to read several pages of verbal brain drilling.

I wasn't too bothered by it, until some delightful GENIUS* decided to make the submission section uncopyable. I could review several works, If there was a possibility to copy the submission to a word processor, segment it and highlight the errors. This saved my energy and sanity.

In the end, all I could manage were superficial peer-reviews, where I focused my effort to finding the biggest problem in the student's work and giving criticism on that.

Were you afraid that someone might copy and make profit from the <1000 word essays of amateur writers? Talk about professional suicide.


By Andy S

Feb 14, 2024

Course material was was good, and interesting throughout. The peer review system however was almost useless the majority of the time. There is nothing to stop people not reviewing or giving no feedback of any kind which very much undermines the product. As consequence there's no way for students to know if they are improving at all. A large number of students are also not complying with the task requirements and are submitted garbage (for what reason i have no idea), but still appear to be progressing. Without removing both these categories of people the course will continue to suffer. It's a real shame as the material is good but the marking system is incredibly poor. This is particularly the case in Capstone where feedback is so essential but i received absolutely nothing during this phase. I honestly have no idea, despite having completed the entire course, if what I'm writing is any good at all, or if I have improved in any way which is very disheartening.

By Susan C

Oct 16, 2023

The course was really good, but the peer review system leaves a lot to be desired. I enjoyed the opportunity to practice my writing skills, but at least 2/3 of the peer reviews were complete bunk: one word answers like "Yes", or "ok", or just gibberish "dddddd". I understand that for the price you don't necessarily get personalized instruction from professional writers, but it should be trivial for Coursera to implement in their SW platform some screening of students (or bots?) generating garbage instead of constructive contributions. I really appreciate the efforts and interesting content from the professors and writers leading the class; it's a shame the Coursera system doesn't enable a way for it to be used more productively. Expect that you will hear from interesting teachers; don't expect that you will get a lot of useful feedback on your own writing.

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




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 Liz H

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 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.

By Derek S

May 6, 2022

I thought that by paying for this course, there would have been at least some sort of tutor feedback, however minimal. But there is none whatsoever, only fellow students review your assignments. These people, with all due respect, are not professional writers/professors and therefore their opinions do not really carry any weight. Total rip-off.

By Song L

Oct 27, 2020

I only wanted to try the course but was charged $49 and non refundable! as soon as I heard the instructor started to talk about Harry Potter I was not interested and wanted to quit. Why was I charged $49 and cannot unenroll, and found nowhere to contact Coursera for refund?! This is cheating.

By Helen C

May 11, 2022

Plagiarism abounds! After giving much thought (and a good rating) to the first piece I peer reviewed, imagine my disappointment when the second piece was nearly identical to the first. And I've already submitted my own original work into this system, likely only to be copied by others.

By Lola G

Jun 19, 2020

lame, plus they charged me even though I didn't want to pay for the certificate.

By Davis M

Jul 4, 2019

this is great course

By Irada A

Apr 5, 2024

I loved the course. As a beginner with zero knowledge of creative writing every information given by the teachers was crucial. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to begin writing. The negative (extremely disappointing but still I'd give this course solid 5 stars) part of the course is the feedbacks. I saw that majority of bad reviews for the course were based on the assignments part where you are being evaluated by the other people from the course who simply answer "yes" on the 2-questioned task in the assignment for review. Come on, people. We are all here to learn something, don't you want to try being responsible classmate? The inability to get a normal (i don't even say "good") review is very demotivating. After 3rd assignment I understood that the overall level of people who is enrolled to the course came here either for fun or don't want to bother themselves with complex reading and try to avoid it. Check this out - this is the review for my last assignment (the most important one) - "Consider refining your ideas and enhancing the overall coherence for a more polished result. I think you can relearn video and submit this assignment again.!!!" (C) It appeared in every textbox and the user gave me 0 points. The second out of three reviewers wrote "yes" in every textbox. Well... Be prepared for that and don't try to "crush it" when you create the plot of your story. Take into consideration that this is just a test and be prepared for small, meaningless reviews. My biggest advice - just follow the instructions of the module when preparing the assignment. Don't try to create smth great. Stay in frames of the task. Use all words, use all required elements - that would be more than enough. All in all - I loved the course for its informative part. The reviews is the liability of people, their attitude should not spoil the rating of the course.

By amira a b a

Jul 30, 2023

How does it feel to finally achieve your dream? To finally land your hand on the certificate that has the value of your dreams and sacrifice?

I dream to become a writer since I was in secondary school, I write every day and night, anytime I had the chance. I went to a writing workshop and learn a lot from my teachers.

But years after that, I lost the spark to write. I didn't even read, not to mention writing. Every time I feel like I want to write, I end up staring at a blank page, over and over again. It took a lot of courage to write something, but sometimes I do write on my blog.

But who knows, that at the age of 27, I thrive to chase my dream, it is never too late to start again. Plus having my name written by an overseas university feels surreal, never thought that I could have one.

Thou I am still miles away to become a professional writer, I know that one day, I will surely become a successful one.

By Shahenda M

Aug 18, 2023

I am nearly 19 yeras old, I've been writing since I was 12 years old and maybe even when I was 10. I used to write something like poetry in school (of course it wasn't good). Anyway, the stories I used to write weren't that good, but I wrote the first novel when I was like 15/16 years, it was actually very good and then I started to write more and my writing was progrprogressing very well, and now I'm writing another novel and my writing is so good like I actualy can be happy about my talent, creativity. So I took this course while writing my current novel and this course helped me to open my eyes on a lot of things I didn't know and things I knew but I didin't know how to do it or I dididn't care about. So, thanks to this amazing course and thanks to the amazing instructors who teached this course. I'm planning to take the 5 courses, I'll start the 4th one soon.

By Sebastien M

Jul 21, 2017

There was a lot of great information on this course, so I recommend taking notes. The only down side to this was there is no way of contending a zero mark from peers who do not have good English skills or even a knowledge of how to critique. I had a perfectly good piece which I spent a whole day on working out intricate rhetoric and correct structure, which failed. The peers who failed me said they could not understand the English and another could not recognise the literary form of lyrical narrative. I did, however, put together another piece in less than 5 minutes which passed.

I learnt a lot of great things though from all the professors and look forward to the other courses in the specialisation.

By Cynthia D

Dec 21, 2020

I found the course very helpful. I hadn't taken a creative writing class since High School which was a very, very long time ago and felt I needed a refresher course to start writing fiction again. I balked at the idea of assignments at first but they were very helpful. Student feedback is mixed but for each assignment I was able to get one student reviewer who was very discerning and able to give me both encouragement AND constructive feedback.

I like the structure of the class. In each segment there are short lectures, demonstrations of what the principles and guest writers who are interviewed. The main instructor was very clear. I enjoyed the class and will likely take the other classes.