List of Free Online Creative Writing Courses, Classes and Workshops
Free online courses in creative writing are offered by real schools. Learn which creative writing courses are available, what topics they cover and which ones lead to real college credit.
Online Creative Writing Courses for Credit
The free online courses in the section below include lectures and audio resources writers can use to hone their poetry, fiction or playwriting skills. And while they may benefit students who want to access these materials for their personal enrichment, the courses generally don't lead to academic credit.
Students looking for a credited option might want to consider Education Portal's English 104: College Composition course, which includes free lesson transcripts. There are also videos and self-assessment quizzes available to registered members for a fee that amounts to considerably less than the cost of a traditional college course. Instructors cover the basics of English grammar and usage and provide writers with tips for developing their style, tone and diction. These materials can lead to real college credit, which students might use to meet general education or introductory course requirements in a creative writing degree program. Some of the chapters include:
- Conventions in Writing: Grammar - Lessons address basic rules for using commas and other punctuation. Tips for writing complete sentences with subject-verb and verb tense agreement are also included.
- Conventions in Writing: Usage - Students learn the proper use of phrasal verbs, idioms and active voice. There are also lessons on sentence structure and point of view.
- Essay Writing - Lessons outline strategies for writing persuasive essays that appeal to the audience and refute opposing views. Suggestions for editing and proofreading essays are included as well.
- How to Revise an Essay - Students examine methods for evaluating thesis and topic sentences, improving their rhetorical skills and assessing an essay's reasoning and organization.
- Using Source Materials - Instructors go over formats for citing books, magazines, online sources and reference materials in MLA, APA and Chicago styles. Lessons also cover the purposes of bibliography and works cited pages.
Free Online Non-Credited Creative Writing Courses
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
- Composing Your Life: Exploration of Self through Visual Arts and Writing
- The Creative Spark
- Playwriting I
- Writing and Reading Poems
- Writing and Reading Short Stories
MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) is available for download or may be viewed online. Students don't have access to faculty with OCW or earn credits and degrees. Although the materials might not reflect the complete contents of the original classes, courses are self-paced and there's no need for registration. In Composing Your Life: Exploration of Self through Visual Arts and Writing, learners examine written and visual tools for creative self-expression. Students can download course materials, and a reading list is provided. The Creative Spark includes a list of readings and videos, along with journal and essay assignments. Study materials are intended to help aspiring writers develop their sense of purpose and audience.
While studying Playwriting I, learners will complete readings from magazines and books. Playwriting exercises are available in PDF format. Writing and Reading Poems looks at how poems are structured as well as traditional and alternative elements in poetry. Through writing assignments, students will practice analyzing poetry and write their own poems. Examples of other students' work are provided. Learners will read well-crafted short stories and complete writing assignments in the course Writing and Reading Short Stories. Essays written by published authors about the art of the short story will also be introduced.
These non-credit LearningSpace courses offered through the Open University may be viewed online or through content feed; students may also download or print the learning materials. The 12-hour Start Writing Fiction course helps students delve into how writers create characters and settings. Various genres of fiction are presented. Reading extracts about character and setting are included with this unit. Writing What You Know is an 8-hour course that helps fledging writers improve their descriptive writing abilities and looks at how authors often base their own works on personal histories. The coursework examines building a believable world, using observations, raiding your past for story ideas and using life experiences.
UbuWeb presents poetry and other forms of the arts, and offers free visual and sound resources. These 6 audio lectures were delivered originally in 1967 and 1968 at Harvard University by Jorge Luis Borges, a major literary voice of the 20th century. Users listen to discussions on topics including metaphor, the origins of verse, epic poetry and poetic meaning, in addition to an exploration of prose forms. Credits are not awarded to listeners of these lectures.
University of Iowa
- Building Characters (Sands Hall)
- Making Words Count (Marc Nieson)
- Same Content/Different Form (Jim Heynen)
- Ways of Reading (Sandra Jean Scofield)
- Writing with Ethnic Diversity (Venise Berry)
This university hosts the Iowa Summer Writing Festival Elevenses each June and July. Author lectures are made available through audio podcast format on the Writing University website. Building Characters gives students techniques to create enduring, vivid fictional characters and settings to captivate audiences. The lecture also addresses differences between writing for print and the theatre. Students are introduced to the technique of free writing in Making Words Count. The balance between the creative writing process and the work of self-editing is also discussed.
The relationship between content and form in different types of writing is the focus of Same Content/Different Form. Students are instructed to address similar themes and content in different types of fiction to expand their skills and explore new depths in their work. The focus of Ways of Reading is the idea that reading critically, with a writer's eye, can assist writers in creating their own works. The lecture also discusses how important it is that writers really know the setting and characters of their works. Writing with Ethnic Diversity discusses the importance of incorporating diversity into fiction through settings and characters. Students are advised to step beyond what they know and introduce elements from a variety of personal experiences in an effort to create mature, compelling stories. No credits are granted for these lectures.