The following 23 top online creative writing courses aim to improve writing via distance learning. Find the best online creative writing courses and creative writing classes online. This article details creative writing courses online that are free as well as those which require a fee.
These online creative writing courses are based in either the UK or US but can be accessed in different regions (local pricing may differ depending on the country from which the website/course is being accessed).
New, intermediate and experienced writers can choose from numerous online creative writing classes to enhance your writing skills, explore writing techniques and styles, or reach your writing goals.
Start studying from home today with professional distance learning providers, tutor-led writing workshops and published authors. All courses can be accessed at any time and are self-paced unless otherwise indicated.
Whether you want to write fiction, nonfiction, a children’s book, a memoir, further develop your writing skills, or learn the basics of writing well, check out these 23 top online creative writing courses.
23 Top Online Creative Writing Courses
1. Online Creative Writing Courses – MasterClass
This is James's first online writing course and guides writers from the beginning of their book to the finish.
This online creative writing course is aimed at all levels of writers, beginner, intermediate or advanced, at whichever stage of the writing process you are currently with your book.
The three and half hours of video lessons cover all aspects of writing a book, from the raw idea, writing the plot, carrying out research, outlining, overcoming writer's block, characterization, writing dialogue, writing suspense, how to end your book, as well as the editing process, getting published and marketing.
2. Online Creative Writing Course [FREE] – The Crafty Writer
This is a FREE online creative writing course from The Crafty Writer and run by Fiona Veitch Smith, who is an author, freelance journalist, editor, playwright, screenwriter and writing teacher.
This eight-session writing course provides an "introduction to the basic elements of creative writing, from prose fiction to poetry".
Recommended books and other useful resources are detailed to accompany the lessons.
The writing topics in this course are: releasing your creativity; how to write a short story; writing from a point of view (POV); bringing your writing to life; writing characters; writing dialogue; how to write poems; and markets, competitions and opportunities.
3. Creative Writing Course Online: Opening Scenes – Skillshare
This is an online creative writing class focusing on how to write stand-out opening scenes in your story/stories. How to engage your readers straight away so they want to keep reading more is not an easy task by any means, so if this is an area you would like to focus on to strengthen your writing, this online creative writing course could be perfect for you.
Taught by New York Times best-selling author Daniel José Older, you will learn how to write and create a spectacular opening scene that will capture your reader's attention and keep them turning the pages.
Aimed at beginner and intermediate writers, this online creative writing course comprises 8-video lessons with a total of 45 minutes. With many reviews, this creative writing course has a 100% recommendation rate.
View course: Creative Writing Essentials: Writing Stand-Out Opening Scene – Skillshare
4. The Basics of Creative Writing Course – UK Writers College
Achieve your writing goals, whether that be to sell the stories you create, enter writing competitions or just writing for pleasure, this intensive course from UK Writers College is aimed at both beginner and advanced writers.
This self-paced online creative writing course is "a fast, effective way to gain the skills required to write any form of fiction – from novels to short stories".
Expert, personalized feedback is provided for each assignment by an award-winning author, with ongoing assessment provided throughout the course. A flexible schedule is offered so students can work to their own pace, up to a maximum of four months, to fit around work and other life commitments.
The modules on this course are: the components of fiction, learning how to write scenes, how to edit and rewrite, how to move forward with your writing, and details of international writing opportunities. Tasks are undertaken for each module.
5. Wired for Story: How to Become a Story Genius – CreativeLive
This course can be accessed at any time, and participants can work at their own pace.
If you want your finalized book to become a reality, or if you want to become a more confident writer, or if you want to learn how write a successful novel, this course could benefit you.
The 17 lessons in this online writing class provide the tools to build a novel, memoir or screenplay from initially creating the material on which your story and plot are formed so that your manuscript grows organically. Writing myths that hold authors back are busted with this concise and clearly presented course. Learn the importance of a well-constructed and well-written story and the essential elements required to write effectively for all genres and target markets.
6. Screenwriting Short Course – MasterClass
Upon signing up for this course, you will be able to chat with other class members and have the chance to critique each other's work and give feedback.
If you want to start your screenwriting career and write screenplays that "capture your audience's attention", this course could benefit you.
You can view a class sample and full details of this online screenwriting course below.
View course: Aaron Sorkin Teaches Screenwriting – MasterClass
7. Online Memoir Writing Course – CreativeLive
This is perfect for writers who feel they want to tell the story of their life or if you're a ghostwriter and would like to be hired to write another person's memoir/ biography.
Among the various areas you will study, the learnings from this online writing course include how to identify the difference between “What happened?” and “What did it mean?”, how to eliminate the parts of your story that don’t belong and focus on the big emotional moments that changed you, and how to maintain your point of view and not lose sight of your real story.
Joyce Maynard is a celebrated memoirist; she will show you how to master the art of nonfiction writing. By the end of this course, you will be taught how to defeat your fear and tell your story perfectly.
View course: How to Write a Full-Length Memoir – CreativeLive
8. Write a Novel Outline from Scratch (Novel Writing Success) – Udemy
This online writing course from Udemy has been created by #1 Amazon best-selling author Andrew Butcher and enables students to "Write a complete novel outline in this detailed outlining course for writers of all levels".
Learn how to construct a complete story outline by generating and then expanding on story ideas, together with interlinking plot lines, creating vivid story settings, forming well-rounded characters while also utilizing tips to transform your writing process and gain the confidence in your writing to successfully outline your story.
This course can benefit beginner to advanced writers. The content of this course includes video presentations, audio lectures and downloadable MP3 files.
This online writing course provides authors with the tools whether you have a story idea and don't know where to start, or if you want to improve the process of outlining a novel, or if you don't have an idea for a story yet but want to fulfill the ambition of writing a novel.
9. Online Creative Writing Course – Creative Writing Ink
A creative writing course from Creative Writing Ink is provided by tutor Kerry Hadley-Pryce, who is a University of Wolverhampton visiting lecturer and the editor of The Blackcountryman magazine.
A published author who has won and been shortlisted for writing awards, Kerry is currently undertaking a PhD at Manchester Metropolitan University.
This course is aims to allow participants to explore particular writing methods to help the beginner writer become a more experienced writer. The modules guide the writer toward creating a strong body of writing from prompts and exercises.
On this course, you will build on character-building techniques, how to apply timing and pacing, how juxtapositioning can bring a story to life, the importance of editing, how to engage emotionally with readers, how a writer's use of language can create symbolism and suspense, and more.
10. Writing a Novel – Faber Academy
An online novel writing course which has launched the careers of many authors, Writing a Novel by Faber Academy is a "serious but flexible course for committed writers". Participants will have access to leading industry experts with ongoing support and guidance from tutors.
This is an eight-month writing course that can fit around the student's life, education, etc. as you can study when it's convenient through its flexible fortnightly structure.
There are regular tutorial webinars, Zoom meetings provide one-to-one feedback for students, and a detailed report will be provided for your first 15,000 words.
The 13 fortnightly sessions include the following areas:
11. How to Write a Novel: Writing the Draft – edX
If you have a novel outlined or started to draft your novel manuscript, this online creative writing course from The University of British Columbia via edx.org provides the tools and guidance for writers who are aspiring or professional, members of writing groups, participants of NaNoWriMo or anyone with a novel they'd like to progress.
This six-week course offers to "move from outline to draft writing with crucial craft lessons from MFA faculty on scene design, dialogue, character development and plot".
Participants of this course will learn via reading writing examples, watching instructor videos and watching interviews with published authors. There is at least one assignment each week along with regular group discussions. Feedback from the tutors is provided via video messages to questions raised on the assignments on Google Hangouts.
The writing techniques you'll learn on this course are creating fully-rounded, complex characters; writing realistic and dramatic dialogue; ways to manage multi-faceted plots; how to manage emotional stakes at the story level; and how to approach completing the draft of your novel manuscript.
12. How to Write More & Stay Happy – National Centre for Writing
This online writing course from the National Centre for Writing is run by award-winning novelist and journalist Benjamin Johncock, where he discusses tips and tricks on how to write more, write faster and staying healthy as a writer. With many exercises, this course enables authors to push through writer's block, identify bad habits, and use technology responsibly.
During this course, which you can start and finish at any time and at your own speed, participants will work through the course modules separated into 'The Productivity Engine", "The Importance of Being Idle" and "Tools of the Trade".
If you would like to eliminate perfectionism, learn how to measure your productivity as well as forming good habits and breaking bad ones, and how to "fill your emotional tank and be a happier writer", this course may tick all the boxes for you.
13. Becoming a Successful Writer – Writers Online
This online creative writing class is provided by Writers Online and aims to help those new to writing and writers needing guidance on becoming a published author.
Participants are encouraged to improve their writing skills, with a focus on creativity and developing a writing technique and style, by producing short stories, novel writing, producing magazine articles, writing for children, and more. Other areas that are covered in this comprehensive online creative writing course include the legalities around writing and publishing contracts.
The course aims to help writers to develop their craft via "valuable one-to-one feedback and advice in constructive critiques".
The course modules cover article writing, practical novel writing, short story writing, how to explore target markets, the author's writing style, and writing and the law.
14. Starting to Write Your Novel – Curtis Brown Creative
This online writing course from Curtis Brown Creative enables writers to "get your novel off the ground. With our support you'll develop your idea, plot and plan your story, and write a confident opening".
The tutor of this course is Anna Davis, founder and director of Curtis Brown Creative writing school, author of five acclaimed novels and Guardian columnist.
If you would like to write your novel but need guidance on how to write it well and the best way to structure your story, or if writing a novel is your dream but you don't have a robust storyline idea, or maybe you need practical advice with regards to the basics, this online creative writing course will enable you to start writing, build on your ideas and plan your story.
The six modules are: introduction and reading as a writer; inspiration and ideas; plotting, planning and story; writing your opening; questions of character; and voice, narration and point of view.
15. Structure Your Story For Success – Creative Writing Now
This online creative writing course, run by Creative Writing Now, is for writers who would "like to develop ideas into gripping plots and satisfying stories".
During this eight-week course, participants will learn how to craft the beginning, middle and ending of a story, how to build a plot and character arc that connect and work together, and also how to organize a story in an impactful and effective way.
Upon course completion, students will create a detailed story plan that can be used as a roadmap for future novels and stories.
The modules are released on a weekly basis and cover elements of a story; character and plot; plot structure; building and structuring the beginning, middle and end of your story; and how to organize scenes.
16. Online Course for Writing a Suspense Book – Skillshare
If writing suspense is your genre, this online creative writing course many benefit you. Taught by the renowned author and storyteller Benjamin Percy, the “Writing Suspense: How to Write Stories That Thrill in Any Genre” course will teach you how to write the perfect suspense book.
Students will be taught how to write "writing genre-bending, reader-gripping works" so your writing makes a positive impact on your readers, leaving them wanting more.
"Every lesson is packed with actionable tips, practical skills, and useful advice that will benefit writers of every medium, whether you're working on a novel, short story, or screenplay, or have an idea just starting to take root".
If you want to learn how to write suspense from an award-winning author, why not sign up for his course today.
View course: Writing Suspense: How to Write Stories That Thrill in Any Genre – Skillshare
17. How to Improve Writing Skills – Bookfox
In this online creative writing course you will learn how to construct and write "a splendid sentence". It will take you step-by-step through the process of being more effective and robust in your writing.
If your aim is to start learning the basics when it comes to creative writing and you want to know how do I start creative writing, this is a great place to start.
This course comprises 28-videos, which answer the most asked question among writers: "Why do readers stop reading?" If you want to discover how to ensure your writing skills stand out in the crowd in a positive way, this could be the course for you.
You will learn the four pillars of sentence writing, six powerful sentence types, the building blocks of sentences, and breaking some of those “rules” you may have come across when it comes to improving your writing skills or learning the craft of creative writing.
The course is suitable for beginners and more experienced writers. So whether you're just starting your writing career or you're a seasoned writer, this self-paced online writing class could benefit you.
View course: How to Write a Splendid Sentence – Bookfox
18. Start Writing Fiction [FREE] – Open University
From OpenLearn via The Open University, this FREE writing course is for authors who have always wanted to write but haven’t had the courage to start. This free course helps you to start writing fiction and provides an understanding of how authors create characters and settings, and you will also be able to look at the different genres for fiction.
Launched in 2006, OpenLearn offers free learning courses which are delivered by The Open University. With approximately 75 million visitors, the site supports the connection between informal and formal learning. More writing courses are found under the History & The Arts section. See all free courses here.
On this course you will learn how to create characters, how to show the setting in your story and the uses of genre.
19. Writing Short Stories Online Course – Skillshare
In this creative writing course online you will learn how to write short stories from a new perspective.
The characters in your short story are what differentiates between a good short story and a prize-winning story. The way you make your readers care for those characters, believe them, and interact with them mentally and emotionally will all be taught in this course.
The course tutor is Yiytun Li, an award-winning writer. The course consists of 8 videos with a total of 47 minutes. This short story writing course is aimed at beginners and intermediate writers.
If you are interested in writing short stories and do not know where to start, this online writing course could benefit you.
View course: Writing Character-Driven Short Stories – Skillshare
20. Children’s Book Writing Course – Bookfox
This creative writing course is one of the best online courses to undertake if you are looking to learn how to write children's books.
Taught by the talented and experienced John Mathew Fox, this 30-video course will take you on a journey of learning how to write, edit, and even publish your first children's book.
So, if you have an idea for a children's book, but you're struggling with how to get it on the page, or if you have written a children's book and you're not sure if it's publishable, or if you want to submit your book to a literary agent or publisher but don't know where to start, this course could benefit you.
You can start anytime, anywhere and there is lifetime access to the course materials. Upon signing up for the course, you gain access to downloadable PDF materials containing additional useful information, quizzes, and challenges that will test your knowledge.
Also, this writing course will teach you how to work with an illustrator to bring your books to life to make them more appealing to children.
View course: Two Weeks to Your Best Children's Book – Bookfox
21. The Ninety Day Novel Course – The Novelry
For aspiring novelists, this online writing course by The Novelry can be started at any time and, as the title suggests, you write your novel in 90 days with guidance and personal coaching. This course will “build your skills and confidence for a lifetime of productive writing”.
This online creative writing course by Novelry aims to enable writers to become published authors with support on a one-to-one basis from a published author tutor and learning provided via text lessons and video.
If your ambition is to write/complete your novel and achieve the status of published author, then this course may be for you.
Over the course of 12 weeks there is a structured process starting with inspiration and preparation on week 1, through to week 12 where you are guided to finalizing your first draft.
22. Non-Fiction Writing Course Online – The Creative Penn
If you would like to learn how to write a non-fiction book, this course could benefit you. In this online writing course, Joanna Penn breaks down non-fiction writing into 5-video lessons where you will learn step-by-step how to master this genre.
With a one-time fee, you receive lifetime access to all the course materials. This course is great for all levels of writers. Whether you are a beginner writer or have some experience, this course could prove to be very beneficial in improving your writing skills, achieving your writing goals or even enhancing your career prospects.
Upon enrolling onto this course, Joanna "will share the business models of writing non-fiction, mindset issues around writing, the details of how to research, write and edit your book, dictation and productivity tips, as well as publishing, product creation, marketing and more". You will receive a total of 16 hours of materials with videos, documents, and quizzes to test your knowledge.
View course: How to Write a Non-Fiction Book – The Creative Penn
23. Getting Started in Creative Writing – University of Oxford
For ardent readers, this online writing course from the University of Oxford provides the required skills to turn a passion for the written word into an applied writing experience. With an introduction to the key aspects of creative writing, students are given step-by-step guidance as they integrate and put into practice a variety of critical and creative techniques.
As well as feedback from tutors on course assignments, writers will be encouraged to discuss the writing of others in forums, and they will be given direction on offering constructive and useful criticism. The emphasis on this course also includes the importance on developing an individual voice and an assured writing style while working in a helpful and understanding environment.
This course provides an introduction to fiction writing and guidance on the fundamentals of the craft of writing, including characterization, plotting, description, dialogue and editing.
Now you’ve decided to progress your writing skills, learning from a professional course will advance your writing further.
Also, you can connect with other writers and keep in touch to discuss ideas or ask for feedback and advice.
While you keep writing, learning, and developing, you’ll soon see the results and how much a difference practice and utilizing the information from a writing course can make.
Good luck on your writing journey!