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Wesleyan University

Creative Writing: The Craft of Style

Wesleyan University via Coursera


Your style is as unique and distinctive as your face, your voice, except that you can choose it, you can can work on it, enhance it. In this course we will introduce aspiring writers to the art of putting pressure on written language. We will study the use of metaphor and imagery, and demonstrate how clarity, grace, and inventiveness in word choice are imperative to a story’s success. Writers will emerge with the revision skills essential to all writers of good stories and good prose.


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Economy
    • 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.
  • "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.

Taught by

Salvatore Scibona


3.8 rating, based on 8 Class Central reviews

4.7 rating at Coursera based on 1127 ratings

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  • Pj Harrison
    I decided on the basis of this class not to pay for the series. The others were beneficial. This I didn't find useful.
  • Zoe Aukim
  • Regina

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