About this Course
573 ratings
164 reviews

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Subtitles: English, French

100% online

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.

Flexible deadlines

Reset deadlines in accordance to your schedule.


Subtitles: English, French

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course

3 hours to complete

Meaning, Sense, and Clarity

Here in the first module we focus on putting pressure on your words so that they mean what you intend. We balance abstraction with the need to make good sense. And we discuss the first and last stylistic difficulty of any prose writer, being clear. ...
9 videos (Total 56 min), 2 readings, 1 quiz
9 videos
Introduction to Meaning, Sense, and Clarity7m
The Pyramid of Language7m
Shop Talk with Amity Gaige14m
Excellent Word Choice at Work, pt. 14m
Excellent Word Choice at Work, pt. 22m
Assignment Overview5m
Feedback Expectations for the Specialization2m
2 readings
A Note on Assignments10m
Promo Codes10m
3 hours to complete

Writing with Nouns and Verbs

In the second module we look at the various parts of speech and how two of them—nouns and verbs—are the building blocks of good style and good narratives. By relying on nouns, we make the people, places, and things of the narrative world vivid. By relying on verbs we keep the story alive and in motion....
6 videos (Total 32 min), 1 quiz
6 videos
Nouns and Verbs at Work, pt. 12m
Nouns and Verbs at Work, pt 2.4m
Close Reading of "Lord of Misrule"4m
A Conversation with Jaimy Gordon, Author of "Lord of Misrule"10m
Assignment Overview3m
3 hours to complete


In the third module, having practiced putting words in, we learn to take them out. And why: for humor, for clarity, for cleanliness, and for that fleet quality of wit that makes a style irresistible. ...
5 videos (Total 44 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
5 videos
Shop Talk with Brando Skyhorse10m
Visiting Writer: Sophie McManus13m
Assignment Overview3m
1 reading
Sophie McManus's Informal List of Words and Phrases to Cut10m
3 hours to complete

"No Ideas But in Things"

In the the final module of the course, we learn to balance the drive to get at ideas and feelings, with the need the story always has for concreteness, realness. We learn to express ideas in the form of physical things in a narrative world, to produce a style that speaks as much to the world of the senses as to the world of the mind....
6 videos (Total 43 min), 1 quiz
6 videos
Respecting the Reader's Mind6m
Shop Talk with Amy Bloom12m
The Reader-Writer Arc8m
Close Reading of "Song of Solomon"5m
Assignment Overview3m
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Top Reviews

By MSApr 19th 2016

Great class for the content I needed. I audited this class and benefited from the theory discussion and practical exercises. The class guided me to improve my writing style which was my ultimate goal.

By LRDec 18th 2018

Lessons were well done, good mix of teaching and illuminating discussion between accomplished writers. Exercises are creative and well thought out. Feedback from classmates is generally helpful.



Salvatore Scibona

Frank B. Weeks Visiting Professor of English

About Wesleyan University

At Wesleyan, distinguished scholar-teachers work closely with students, taking advantage of fluidity among disciplines to explore the world with a variety of tools. The university seeks to build a diverse, energetic community of students, faculty, and staff who think critically and creatively and who value independence of mind and generosity of spirit. ...

About the Creative Writing Specialization

This Specialization covers elements of three major creative writing genres: short story, narrative essay, and memoir. You will master the techniques that good writers use to compose a bracing story, populated with memorable characters in an interesting setting, written in a fresh descriptive style. You will analyze and constructively evaluate peer writing. In the Capstone, you will draft, rewrite, and complete a substantial original story in the genre of your choosing. Our courses are designed for anyone from the aspiring short story writer to established novelist. Whether you have a finished novel sitting on your desk calling for a fresh look or have had the germ of an idea for a decade, this Specialization gives you tools to achieve your goal. Through 4 courses focused on a key aspect of writing, and taken in any order you choose, you will develop a stronger ability to not only refine your writing, but critique writing in general and find inspiration in the works you are already reading. Thanks to our sponsors, upon completion of their first assignment, learners in each course will receive up to an 80% discount from Write-Bros and a 30% discount off their first purchase from Scrivener to use on their writing software. Additionally, learners who complete an assignment will receive 30% off membership at the online writing community Scribophile. For more information about our partners, see the FAQ below....
Creative Writing

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Once you enroll for a Certificate, you’ll have access to all videos, quizzes, and programming assignments (if applicable). Peer review assignments can only be submitted and reviewed once your session has begun. If you choose to explore the course without purchasing, you may not be able to access certain assignments.

  • When you enroll in the course, you get access to all of the courses in the Specialization, and you earn a certificate when you complete the work. Your electronic Certificate will be added to your Accomplishments page - from there, you can print your Certificate or add it to your LinkedIn profile. If you only want to read and view the course content, you can audit the course for free.

More questions? Visit the Learner Help Center.