As much as we writers would love it, writing classes aren’t always accessible. Unless you’re talking about the massive open online course (MOOC for short) that the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop is offering right now. For free.
Education in our lovely USA is cost prohibitive for most. And who has time to put life on hold or move a few states over to pursue an MFA, no matter how wonderful it would be to pursue only writing for two wonderful years.
Enter How Writers Write Fiction 2015, an 8-week course for writers. All online. All free. It’s available to everyone. And many busy writers, both beginner and advanced, will appreciate the fiction fundamentals, short video lectures from successful authors, the chance to flex your writing muscles and get feedback, forum discussions with instructors, plus all the wonderful writers you’ll meet along the way.
If you know anything about the University of Iowa’s famed writing workshop, you know that most consider it the best MFA program anywhere. Heavy-hitting authors like Kurt Vonnegut and Robert Frost have taught there. And this free program gives every writer the chance to take a little of that expertise into their own writing practice.
Already, I’ve learned a lot about writing better from this course. The first week’s fiction fundamentals lesson encourages writers to start with your character’s greatest desire and greatest fear. A lot of what took me so long with my Writers of the Future contest story was that I kept rewriting and rewriting until I finally understood what my character, Dr Stein, really wanted. What he feared. How much time might I have saved if I just worked that out from the start? It sounds obvious now. But I guess the solution to every obstacle seems obvious once you finally overcome it. Shrug.
This class is one thing I’m doing to recharge between writing projects now that my big writing project is all done and I’m figuring out what to do next.
The program shared an incredible story resource called Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading where you can find free stories. That’s where you’ll find this week’s reading assignment, a short story called “Where We Must Be” by Laura Van Den Berg.
Plus, at the end of the course, you have the option to sign up for a certificate of completion for $50 bucks, which is a more than reasonable price for someone to sift through all your work and verify it’s done.
And since you only have to complete four of the seven (or eight?) assignments to get that certificate of completion, there’s still time to sign up for the course. Let me know if I’ll see you there!
What are you doing to improve your writing skills this month? Let me know in the comments.