Taking one of the best online creative writing classes is a great way to take your work to the next level.
Fellow writers, we’ve all been there. You sit down with your laptop, pen, and favorite notebook, and… you blank. Creative writing can be difficult, especially if you spend most of your day in a non-creative field. If you’re dealing with writer’s block or are feeling uninspired, you’re not alone. Thankfully, plenty of online courses can help you boost your creative writing skills, inspiring you to develop your characters and tell their stories. Check out our guide to the best MasterClass courses for online creative writing classes so you can get to work.
- 1. Secret Sauce of Great Writing by Udemy
- 2. Creative Writing Specialization by Wesleyan University by Coursera
- 3. Creative Writing 101 by Writer’s Digest University
- 4. Shonda Rhimes Teaches Writing for Television by MasterClass
- 5. The Book in a Year by The Novelry
- 6. Writing Your Story by CreativeLive
- 7. Two Weeks to Your Best Children’s Book by Bookfox
- 8. Fiction Writing Level 1 by Gotham Writers Workshop
- 9. Writing the Weird by LitReactor
- 10. Writing Authentic Fiction: How to Build a Believable Character by SkillShare
- Selection Criteria
- Why You Can Trust Me
1. Secret Sauce of Great Writing by Udemy
Best for: Anyone who wants to be a better writer – creatively, in business, or otherwise
Secret Sauce of Great Writing by Udemy offers time-tested tips for writers interested in making their writing shine in all aspects of their lives, from business to novels. The former Wall Street Journal editor, Instructor Shani Raja, focuses on her four ingredients of good writing: evocativeness, elegance, simplicity, and clarity. If you have an idea for a novel, are working to boost your writing at work, or want to be a better communicator, this course is a great fit.
Raja provides actionable tips that make it easy to improve your writing immediately without getting bogged down by theory. It takes less than an hour to complete the course, so there’s no reason not to try it. Reviewers state that after completing the course, they see improvements in all areas of their writing, from creating emails that get to the point to writing business reports with increased clarity. The best part: it’s free!
2. Creative Writing Specialization by Wesleyan University by Coursera
Best for: Authors who want to go through the story creation process from start to finish
Creative Writing Specialization by Wesleyan University by Coursera can help you get your start in creative writing. Coursera is known for pairing with respected universities (in this case, Wesleyan University) to provide learners with high-quality content without signing up for a standard college course. This in-depth specialization takes three to six months to complete, so you’ll want to be sure you have plenty of time to dig in.
You’ll go through five courses throughout the specialization. While it’s wise to have some writing under your belt before diving into such an intense course, no prerequisites are required before you sign up. While you won’t get direct feedback from the course instructors, you’ll get access to peer readers who will give you feedback on your work, helping you implement the tips and tricks you learn.
An important note: if you’re working on writing a novel and are interested in something other than creating other works, there may be a better fit for you. This course covers writing narrative essays, memoirs, and short stories but does not go into techniques to develop longer works. While the instructors are published authors, they may need to gain the experience of writing full novels (keep reading if you’re interested in a course that can help take you from the spark of an idea to a published novel).
3. Creative Writing 101 by Writer’s Digest University
Best for: Writers who want to move from hobby writing to creating fiction as a career path
When you look at Creative Writing 101 by Writer’s Digest University, we know you’ll experience some sticker shock. While the cost is high, this course can be perfect for those interested in writing who need help knowing where to start. Whether you have an idea for a story or you’ve imagined a character who would be perfect for your ideal audience, this class will help you take the novel in your mind from an abstract concept to reality.
Writer’s Digest is a widely-known, high-quality publication, so taking this course may boost your resume if you work in a creative field. While you don’t get a certificate of completion, you can talk with potential employers about what you learned throughout the 12 sessions the course offers.
While the price is steep for a single class, past students say the course is well worth the money. Over the course of the sessions, you’ll learn how to shape your characters in a way that feels natural to your readers, how to develop the plot of your novel, and how to choose the right point of view for your story. The course also delves into problems that plague many writers, such as how to find the motivation to write when you’re feeling stuck. If you’re ready to start as an author and have the money, this course is a fantastic 12-week option.
4. Shonda Rhimes Teaches Writing for Television by MasterClass
Best for: Authors interested in moving from writing for print to writing for the small screen
Wondering how to get your start as a television writer? No one better to teach a television writing class than the mind behind Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal. Shonda Rhimes Teaches Writing for Television by MasterClass offers 30 compelling lessons that will help you learn how to craft your writing for TV. Over this self-paced course, Rhimes teachers students how to take a story and make it a good fit for television. You’ll cover how to create great characters that feel real to your audience, how to write authentic dialogue that tells a story, and how to structure a script.
While the course covers many technical aspects of writing for TV, it also goes into what you’ll need to do to get your work seen by the people who can make your show idea a reality. Rhimes discusses how to edit your script to make it stand out, how to break into the industry, and what you’ll need to know to stay true to your vision if you become a showrunner. In addition to video lessons, you’ll also download a PDF workbook to continue working on and developing your ideas.
5. The Book in a Year by The Novelry
Best for: Authors who keep starting their passion projects but stall out when life gets in the way
The Book in a Year by The Novelry attacks the problem that many would-be novelists know all too well: constantly wanting to write the next great novel but not being sure how to get the words on the page. If you’re ready to commit to writing for the next twelve months, this course can be a great way to get the help you need with developing characters, creating a plot, and polishing your first draft to the point where it’s ready to submit to publishers.
This course is pricey, so you must be sure you’re ready to write a novel before you dig in. Once you’re on board, you’ll get regular coaching support from novelists with insider tips that will help elevate your writing. You’ll get access to self-paced courses and weekly online classes, allowing you to connect with the Novelry community as you go through the ups and downs of writing a book.
In addition to providing the support you need to write your book, the course also provides nine lessons on the submission process. You’ll go through each step to get your book on the shelves of your favorite bookstore, from finding the right literary agent to submitting your final document for publishing.
6. Writing Your Story by CreativeLive
Best for: Writers with a story to tell who want to learn more about creating a gripping memoir
Writing Your Story by CreativeLive is taught by Joyce Maynard, best known for her story At Home in the World, which told the tale of her affair with J.D. Salinger. In addition to her first memoir, Maynard is known for other autobiographical works. If you’re a fan of Maynard’s work, you’ll love getting to know her throughout the course. Her lessons often include stories from her personal life, and you’ll find that you’re drawn into her storytelling without even realizing you’re developing your writing skills.
This course from CreativeLive offers 26 lessons. Some lessons are super-short, at just five minutes, while others last up to half an hour. Maynard dives into deciding what to write and how to take your life story from your mind to paper.
She also talks about one of the toughest parts of working as a memoirist – dealing with public criticism following the publication of your memoir. This flexible course allows you to watch the videos at your own pace. You may have better options if you prefer something other than Maynard’s writing style or looking for strict courses that include supplemental materials and instructor feedback.
7. Two Weeks to Your Best Children’s Book by Bookfox
Best for: Writers who have always wanted to write a children’s book but need help figuring out how to start
Most parents have thought about writing a children’s book at some point. When you’re reading to your kids, it seems so simple to write a great story – until you put pen to paper. Two Weeks to Your Best Children’s Book by Bookfox helps you understand how to develop book ideas that will appeal to your target market and how to revise your story to make it stand out. John Matthew Fox, a former college professor and writer created Bookfox to help others understand how to write and publish a book.
While the Bookfox courses don’t have all the bells and whistles of larger companies, many writers find that Fox’s insider knowledge of the industry makes the course well worth the cash. In addition to helping you through the process of writing a children’s book, the course also teaches writers how to decide whether it makes sense to hire an agent or self-publish. The course offers 14 lessons that you can complete at your own pace–you’ll have up to a year of access to the courses, so there’s no issue if you cannot complete the lessons in just two weeks.
8. Fiction Writing Level 1 by Gotham Writers Workshop
Best for: Writers who already have some creative writing under their belts and are ready to have others critique their work
Fiction Writing Level 1 by Gotham Writers Workshop is a New York City-based learning institution that is (thankfully) now offering online classes to reach readers worldwide. In these classes, you’ll get personalized instruction, as each course is limited to just 16 students in each class. After you complete the level one course, you can move on to levels two and three (and you’ll get a discount for being a returning student).
This is different than the type of class where you watch videos at your leisure and pick and choose which suggestions you’d like to implement–you’ll need to submit your work and interact with other students. There is some flexibility within the course, as you’ll have a week of flexibility for each deadline. If you’re ready to take your work to the next level and want to hear what the experts say about your writing, Gotham is the right place for you. You’ll also get plenty of supplemental materials that can help to boost your course knowledge as you complete the lessons.
A word to the wise: if you prefer video classes, you’ll want to register for Gotham’s Zoom options. The standard online classes offered by the workshop are text-based. This works for some writers, but it can be tough to follow if you prefer to see your instructor. You might also be interested in these essays about creative writing.
9. Writing the Weird by LitReactor
Best for: Writers interested in writing about the paranormal, creating a fantasy world, or writing about another niche topic
Writing the Weird by LitReactor is the right fit for writers with an offbeat idea for a novel. Whether you’re looking to create a surreal world for your readers or are interested in writing about a post-apocalyptic world, this course taught by Collision author J.S. Breukelaar will take you through everything you need to know. You’ll love the personalized feedback you get from Breukelaar, as the class is limited to just 16 students. The course is divided into four categories: humanity, setting, resolution, and structure.
You’ll learn how to incorporate each of these elements into your writing, exploring how the use of each can help to create a world that your readers can picture–even if it doesn’t exist. In the final week of the course, you’ll work to write a story that implements all that you’ve learned, leaving you with a completed piece of work that you can shop with your agent or publisher.
Best for: Authors who already have a story idea and struggle to flesh out relatable, realistic characters
Writing Authentic Fiction: How to Build a Believable Character by SkillShare is a great way to start creating a character who will feel like a friend to your readers. When you join Skillshare, you’ll get access to many courses, allowing you to choose the education options that fit your writing needs. This course is quick–you’ll be able to complete all eight lessons in more than half an hour.
Sabaa Tahir explains the importance of creating great characters and how being able to relate to the characters you create will keep your readers turning the pages of your novel. As you get to know your characters, you’ll likely find that your writing flows more easily, as you no longer need to stop and think through what your character might do in your novel.
We considered several factors when deciding which classes to include in this list, including value for the price and feedback from writers who have completed the courses. We also looked for courses that included actionable tips that you can put into practice immediately to improve your writing.
Why You Can Trust Me
Amanda Berkey has been writing for as long as she can remember and got her start getting paid to do what she loved in 2015. She covers various topics, including yoga, nutrition, parenting, and how-to guides for writers ready to start their careers. Looking for more? Check out our David Baldacci MasterClass review!