Writing courses

11 Free Online Writing Classes

Writing is a highly prized and difficult skill to master, and while some are naturally good at stringing sentences together, we all need to take the time to learn the craft.

Whether you want to write your first novel, write a poignant poem, put together a screenplay, or create better business content, there’s a free online course to help you. We’ve put together a list of free online writing courses so you can find the perfect study program to help you write better.

This eight-week online writing course is an introduction to the theory and practice of rhetoric, the art of persuasive writing and speaking. Using selected speeches from prominent 20th-century Americans—including Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, Margaret Chase Smith, and Ronald Reagan—to explore and analyze rhetorical structure and style, this course will teach you when and how use a variety of rhetorical devices in writing and orally.

It also explains how to tell the difference between argumentation and rhetorical technique, how to write a persuasive op-ed, and how to assess and identify the strengths of logical errors in arguments.

This short course can be completed in one day and is one of five modules in Wesleyan University’s Creative Writing offerings.

In this writing course, aspiring wordsmiths will be introduced to the concept of plot. You’ll learn what makes it tick and how it can manipulate readers’ feelings, expectations, and desires. The course examines the choices storytellers make to capture people’s imaginations, draw them into a fictional world, and keep them there. You’ll learn how to describe and structure a plot, discuss story arc, pacing and inversions, and reveal the inevitable surprise: connecting beginning, middle and end.

Fancy a crash course in writing? This course can take up to eight hours per week for four weeks, but learning is self-paced, so you have some flexibility. It will help you study different communication styles and discuss business writing best practices by providing real-world scenarios and applications.

You will examine how to use the six Cs (spoiler: consideration, clarity, conciseness, consistency, accuracy and confidence) to improve your marketing messages. This contemporary course also examines proper business writing etiquette and examines the use of emoji in business communications.

Described as “an invitation to let your inner songwriter step into the sunlight,” this online songwriting course will have you singing a melody (or that’s the point).

If you haven’t written any or many songs, it promises to show you an efficient and effective process for adapting songs to express your ideas and emotions. If so, you’ll look at your process differently, taking control of aspects of the process you may not have noticed. This course will allow you to work on both a lyrical and a musical level, although it is not necessary that you read music or play an instrument – the course offers you a number of musical loops with which you can sing your melodies. During this course, you will create lyrics and/or melodies for peer review.

Imagine you’re back in college and learning to write with your friends.
Credit: Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

This course will teach you how to structure your playwriting on a professional level, as well as develop professionally transferable communication skills. This course is designed to improve your understanding of how to write engaging and interesting stories to attract producers and directors to your work.

You will learn how to write effective dialogue and edit your work. This course examines the work of Brecht, Richard Schechner, Augusto Boal, Japanese Noh theater and other forms of theater from around the world.

Writing exercises will be sent to you during the module, you will keep a creativity journal and, at the end of the course, you will have completed a plan for the structure of a new play.

This course is described as an introduction to academic writing, focusing on essay development, grammar proofreading, and self-publishing. This five-week course includes a review of terminology and basic understanding of grammar, writing effective sentences and paragraphs, how to approach writing introductions and conclusions, strategies for writing longer ones and thesis statements. Course materials will be offered through readings and videos and you will participate in online discussions. You will write an essay for this course.

This course will give you expert knowledge of the histories, forms and traditions of writing for stand-up comedy/performance poetry, as well as the cultural contexts of innovative practitioners and practices within stand-up comedy/ performance poetry. You will study contemporary critical, analytical and narrative theories of stand-up comedy/performative poetry. It will arm you with a detailed understanding of the key components of performance within the discipline, including ideational sources, body, space, image, sound, text, movement and environment. This course aims to develop advanced self-management skills to include working in a planned and improvised manner, as well as the ability to anticipate and adapt to change, ambiguity, creative risk-taking, uncertainty and ignorance.

This course will teach you “how to write about yourself…so someone else will want to read it”. This is the core of this Wesleyan University Dissertation and Personal Essay specialization.

You’ll get tips, prompts, exercises, readings, and challenges to help you imagine, construct, and write compelling pieces of the most popular form of nonfiction: personal narrative. Coursera says learners will develop a set of tools to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and write their life story. As a result of this course, you will collect a portfolio of work that you can use as part of your dissertation or essay.

This course will teach you how to build a screenplay and the ins and outs of becoming a professional screenwriter. This is an intermediate course that requires no prior knowledge of screenwriting. The course will focus on visual storytelling, storyline structure and character development and how these work together to convey the central meaning of your work. It will also teach you real life skills such as script editing, time management and how to work as a screenwriter. In addition, you will gain knowledge about film history and film theory.

This course is a specialization that is part of a Michigan State University journalism degree program designed to develop and enhance your understanding of the global field of journalism.

You will learn best practices and ethical standards for the processes of newsgathering and compiling a story through hands-on projects, peer-to-peer feedback, and problem exploration. You will also study journalism’s impact on societal issues and trends, and explore career opportunities in newspapers, magazines, social media, internet multimedia, television, radio, corporate journalism and community.

This is a 26 week beginner level course that will guide you through the process of writing your first novel. The course boasts that you will leave the class with a 50,000 page manuscript. By breaking down the writing process and providing you with timelines, the course can help make writing a novel a less daunting quest. It even schedules writing breaks for you. Additionally, the course will provide you with space for peer review.

This article was originally published in April 2021 and was updated in January 2022.

Additional reporting by Elena Cavender.