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Creative Writing: The Craft of Plot

Wesleyan University via Coursera


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.


  • Plotting a Course
    • In this module, we'll learn essentials about plot definitions and mechanics. What is plot? How does plot shape a narrative? What makes a strong plot? How is plot different from a story? We'll also discuss how plot works in actual books you're probably familiar with, such as the Harry Potter series, how character and action equals plot, and the five key questions you should ask yourself when creating a dynamic character.
  • The Power of Structure
    • In this module we're going to learn what story structure is and how by understanding structure you can learn how to sequence the events in your plot to help maximize your own storytelling abilities.We'll talk about Freytag's pyramid, the five act structure, how that structure can be found in works of classic literature, and have a conversation about how structure and outlines can help organize the stories you want to tell.
  • A Scene in Motion
    • Scenes are the building blocks of storytelling. But what is a scene? And how does a scene move plot forward? In this module we'll learn about the difference between telling and showing, the five key elements each scene should have, offer some examples of effective scenes, and have a conversation about how setting and description can make a scene come alive.
  • Cut It Out
    • This modules deals with the specifics of editing and revising your work. This process of revision starts with the first draft (which will now become your second draft) and continues until the manuscript’s ready to send to an agent. Included here are a twenty-one point checklist on what to do once you have a completed first draft, and conversations about creating characters with strong motivations, and how to define language that gets rewritten vs language that gets cut.

Taught by

Brando Skyhorse


3.6 rating, based on 17 Class Central reviews

4.7 rating at Coursera based on 4521 ratings

Start your review of Creative Writing: The Craft of Plot

  • Oj

    Oj is taking this course right now, spending 1 hours a week on it.

    Okay boss, here's the thing. I intentionally keep away from reviews, simply coz dude! Someone's doin something, why rip it down with your own negativity, someone somewhere is benefiting, let them! But here's why I am annoyed, see I am a story person,...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    The people at Coursera advertise the module as a free course. Only after finishing your first assignment did I realise, that I have to pay to submit! Why advertise it in the first place as a free course? I felt really gutted because I invested a few hours in this assignment and then nothing. I cannot afford to pay what they want me to, in order to continue with my course. It's just a sneaky tactic they are using to get new customers. In addition, the first part, which I could complete, the theory part, wasn't useful at all. They talked about the ordinary stuff you hear in every other youtube video. I don't recommend the course at all.
  • Blackie Ray is taking this course right now, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    I started this course and went through the preliminary class videos and wrote the first assignment. I was auditing this course. I didn't expect much . However, I did expect I'd be able to submit my exercise and review classmates exercises. Coursera wouldn't let me submit the exercise unless I signed up with a credit card. Very discouraging. Clearly what is free is to watch the instructor. But participation is not permitted unless you pay, It seems the cheers of free education online is a bit misleading.
  • Zoe Aukim

    Zoe Aukim completed this course and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    This is a really useful and interesting course. I would recommend it for people who already have some experience writing and are looking to improve but there is plenty in it for beginners as well.
  • Profile image for Tyler Snoek
    Tyler Snoek

    Tyler Snoek completed this course and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    To be honest I didn't want to have to pay for the course because I'm not interested in getting a certificate, but that also meant I wasn't able to do the assignments. With that out of the way I was able to watch all the video's of the entire course in one morning. Watching the video's was very helpful and gave me a lot of good tips on things to keep in mind when writing my next novel. I have 3 pages of notes I will be putting to good use. For just a few hours that's pretty good.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    This course is click-bait. It offers a free trial but... you have to submit your card details for payment. What a con... Don't use Coursera. There are better courses at Future Learn.
  • Kris Ashton

    Kris Ashton is taking this course right now, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    The instructor lost me when he said that Harry Potter was great writing and unfortunately this was very early on in the course.
  • Anonymous
    It is a very good course. But I am just checking the comment section working. To complete my 100 characters which are necessary to check it's working because I need it.
  • Profile image for Wasiu Kareem
    Wasiu Kareem

    Wasiu Kareem is taking this course right now.

    This is an interesting course worthy of learning. It answer my long search for writing crave. Will try and learn and finish the course.
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