The author Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Sage advice, but new and intermediate writers may need to first hone their skills a bit. What can they do? Take some free writing courses. A writing course serves as a fine-grained whetstone, giving a sharp edge to roughly textured writing skills.
Where can you take free writing courses? The Internet made the world a much smaller place, and free courses from leading institutions around the world are now available online.
Here are some of the best free online writing courses. The comments for each course are short summaries based on the course descriptions:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
MIT offers a few of its past writing courses on its website. Take a writing course and tell your friends you’ve been accepted to MIT! To incorporate “quark spin” into your next novel, go to this MIT web page! If that doesn’t spark your creativity (and chances are it won’t), then maybe The Creative Spark is more worthy of your time. Professor Karen Boiko taught the course back in 2004. The objective of the course is to develop effective writing and speaking skills along with helping students become aware of their own purpose as a writer.
Another MIT course, entitled Writing and Reading Short Stories, focuses on the craft of – you guessed it – the short story.
This University is the largest academic institution in the United Kingdom. It offers a number of excellent free-of-charge, online writing courses, including:
- Start Writing Fiction. Improve your skills in creating characters and settings.
- Approaching Prose Fiction. Covers the settings of novels, narrative events and perspectives, types of characterization, and genre. It’s designed as an intermediate level course.
- Writing What you Know. Enhance your descriptive writing abilities. The course also reviews how authors use their own personal history to form the basis of their work. This one is an introductory course.
Warwick University, also located in the United Kingdom, offers a collection of courses in its Podcast Browser. David Morley, Director of the Warwick Writing Programme, leads you through a series of creative writing challenges designed to help you develop your creativity and talent as a writer. You also have the opportunity to send your work for evaluation.
Purdue Online Writing Lab’s Fiction Writing Basics course teaches writing techniques for beginning and intermediate fiction writers. The course covers the basics of plot, theme, character, point-of-view, and conflict.
The average price for an online writing course is $400. So try one of these free courses and save yourself some money!
Brian Jenkins writes about career and school information for writers, among other topics, for BrainTrack.com.