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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Writing in First Person Point of View by Wesleyan University

109 ratings

About the Course

If you have always wanted to tell your own story—in a memoir, first-person essay, or any other form of autobiographical non-fiction—but felt you lacked the tools or the framework, this is the class for you. We will learn how successful first-person writing is structured to offer the reader a sense of propulsive motion, and is guided by a narrator who is deliberately crafted. We will explore the ways in which language can be used to create tone, so that the emotional freight of your words is as potent as the storytelling. And crucially, we will consider the writer's responsibility to the reader: the importance of being a guide who includes the reader in the sensory, emotional, and intellectual experience you mean to share through your writing....

Top reviews


Jul 27, 2020

The assignments were very helpful with looking at my story in different ways. I now have an idea of how to elevate my story from a journal into a memoir.


Feb 22, 2021

Such a dynamic teacher. I cant wait to read her memoir.

She speaks clearly, its accessible and its dynamic. I loved every lecture and assignment.

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1 - 25 of 54 Reviews for Writing in First Person Point of View


Nov 6, 2019

Ariel Levy gives specific examples of books and excerpts to illustrate the learning points. This is very helpful and much appreciated.

By Deleted A

Apr 21, 2020

This was my first Coursera course, and will be my last. The absence of any input on the assignments from the instructor seemed more than a bit lame. The instructions for the assignments were awful. The worst instructions were for the final piece, which until today I didn't realize was meant to be for my entire memoir - I thought it was for one essay! While I thought the discipline of needing to get words on paper and review others' words was good, I found the course way less than satisfying. I'm making a second entry here to say that at a minimum, someone should check the accuracy of the voice-to-text narrative of the instructor's work. It is absolutely full of errors that would be easily corrected, but fit the overall impression of the course.

By Beza W

Aug 13, 2020

It was my first class and it was really great! Not intimidating but challenging at the same time. Very positive peers as well.

By Rabia A

Aug 31, 2020

The two stars are for the quality of the instruction. For each of the four parts of this course. The rest of it is truly reprehensible. The focus seems to be on getting people to sign up and pay up. Obviously, for the price one can't expect any feedback from the instructors but peer feedback is a disaster. Most of the people I've had to review or who have reviewed my submissions have enormous difficulty with the English language. Some of them can't write a straight sentence in English. On the site we are asked to make allowances for the fact that English may not be the first language of the students. But this is a writing course—writing in English. People who cannot write in English should not be enrolled in this course. But Coursera seems to care only about taking in the fees. I'm surprised that the instructors—all of them successful, critically acclaimed writers and poets—should sign on to a project where bringing in the money (enrolling people in the thousands) seems to be the priority.

By Penelope D W

Jan 6, 2021

... my apologies if I mis-perceive, but, I'm not at all comfortable with this particular approach to writing in the first person ... I find that there is an ambiguity of purpose; which should be identified with clarity, transparency, & engaging the reader as in a kind of honest conversationalism, with a purpose to effect personal positive transformation in both reader & author ...there seems to be an intent to bait the reader, ... from the outset it sounds like shabby fiction is encouraged... I don't want to be trolled through the gutter but allowed to walk the curb safely, cleanly, with non-judgmental intention, compassionate understanding & preserving mental hygiene as I read & my understanding is deepened... gratuitous violence with velvet gloves about sums it up for this Course... a low-order form of violation against the reader ... apologies again, but I must en-enroll ...

By Connie M

Dec 30, 2021

Ms. Levy's lectures have a multitude of well-worded ideas and concepts for motivation and overcoming blocks and reluctance. She draws on her own experience and struggles as a writer, which gives authenticity. I've adopted her "note card" tip by typing into table cells in Microsoft Word: a writing tool which solves a problem I was having keeping track of draft paragraphs and sentences. The prompts elicited two good stories from me, although the first and last prompts were overviews and I prefer to see what comes forth for a specific piece. That said, the last prompt led me to an interesting connection between my two otherwise unrelated narratives. Ms. Levy seems to favor the "trauma" type of narrative so some of the sample readings were a bit depressing, but I pretty much ignored this and went ahead with my travel reminiscing.

By John E P

Nov 13, 2019

Ariel, I enjoyed Course 2 of the Specialization. In particular I enjoyed Developing a Narrator and Developing Trust with the reader. Then there was Where to begin and Finding your voice. What is your point is another. I have downloaded all the videos so that I can go over them until I get all the concepts. I really glad I took this course and this Specialization. I am on vacation in a few days so I may not complete all the peer scoring but I listened to all the videos and downloaded the text.

I am writing my first book which will not only be a memoir but also a help for those who suffer from illness.

By Jasmin S

Nov 20, 2020

I learned so much from this course, particularly from Ariel Levy's insights into what comprises an excellent narrative. She encourages one to engage the reader, bring them into the fore of what you want to put across, use self effacement, be funny, use connotations and create a spine and a point for your story. I like that she refers to writing as an "art," and how her examples are so clear cut and precise that I can't wait to use what I learned to create my non fiction narratives. Thank you.

By Louis C

Sep 20, 2020

I've been blown away at how good this course is. Ariel Levy is so good and so engaging. I've gone back and tried to download all the videos because where the first course in this specialization lays the groundwork, Ariel really leads the way on building on top of it. Levy also uses a lot of great examples from other's work and hers to give concrete examples of what she's teaching. She's great and I highly recommend this course.

By Karen S

Aug 27, 2021

Ariel Levy is an exceptional teacher, and the material she presented was extremely helpful. This course was excellent - with truly valuable insight and concrete examples and exercises. Ms. Levy's delivery was entertaining and informative. The writing assignments were doable while stretching my writing skills. So far, this is my favorite of the 4 courses in the specialization.

By Alicia W

Jul 3, 2020

I find the instructor very knowledgeable about the topic. The lectures were good and the assignments rigourous. Some of the peers did not seem like they followed the instructions or were in the right course but some were really good and I enjoyed reading their reviews as well as their assignments.

By Dave S

May 1, 2020

Absolutely brilliant! Ariel Levy's way of teaching is straightforward, inspiring, energetic, and clear. I wish I could do more courses with her. The content was most useful, and the sequence in which it was presented was right on. I wasn't the same when I finished the course. Thanks for this!!

By Lydia C

Sep 20, 2021

I learned from the course Writing in First Person is to remember the narrator. Your memoir is not you; it's your creation. Make sure if you are writing a scene from your childhood experiences, write about the child's understanding of emotions, behavior, and consequences.

By Suzanne M

May 3, 2021

A good instructor whose well-constructed assignments helped me to become a better writer. I enjoyed this course and thought it was worth the time I spent on it. I also thought I was lucky in that the feedback I received on my assignments was thoughtful and thorough.

By Christopher A

Feb 13, 2020

The quality of the presentations are so outstanding. Special thanks to Professor Ariel Levy for the clear, reassuring and can-do style of her presentations. My writing skills has improved and my confidence level is increasing. Thank you for granting me the chance.

By Kelsey N

Jan 1, 2021

Thank you doesn't cut it, though I am eternally grateful. Every part of this course was helpful, challenging and unearthing. Ariel's style and insights are sheer brilliance and the exercises gave me the push and opportunity to find my writing potential.

By Celeste B

Feb 27, 2023

The instructor was amazing and I really enjoyed the course. The issue was waiting two weeks for peer review on my last assignments. Almost made me walk away from Coursera completely and definitely stopped me from moving to the next course in the series.

By Vicki W

Aug 23, 2020

Ariel Levy is terrific and so helpful. While I liked all of the instructors in this specialization, I found her style to be insightful and also practical. I thought the assignments made sense and directly related to where I'm trying to go as a writer.

By Liz J

Mar 28, 2022

The course is great. The only frustration I had was that it took so long to get reviews from peers and to have peer assignments to review, that sometimes the deadlines would pass and you were stuck, unable to progress, through no fault of your own.

By Mitch B

May 23, 2020

This course has renewed my passion for writing and flexed literary muscles I have not used in quite a long time. The specific writing exercises flowed from one to the next cohesively and with purpose. A great course!

By Elisabeth S

Mar 20, 2023

Absolutely loved this course! Ariel Levy so inspiring, encouraging, thought-provoking. I found myself thinking of the things she said and excerpts she read to us frequently on days following the lecture.

By Ann R

Jul 28, 2020

The assignments were very helpful with looking at my story in different ways. I now have an idea of how to elevate my story from a journal into a memoir.

By Deleted A

Feb 25, 2019

As a writer and a blogger I felt like I should brush up on my craft. This course was very enlightening and Ariel Levy was engaging and informative.

By Mina S

Feb 22, 2021

Such a dynamic teacher. I cant wait to read her memoir.

She speaks clearly, its accessible and its dynamic. I loved every lecture and assignment.

By Wendy C

Feb 8, 2021

Enjoyed this class a lot. It was the first writing class I've ever taken and I liked it so much I've signed up for another.