Online Novel and Essay Writing Courses and Classes

Online courses to learn novel and essay writing are available within a wide range of programs and individual studies. Whether interested in short- or long-form writing, students will find opportunity to learn about and practice their craft.

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Online Courses in Novel and Essay Writing

The following descriptions are for common writing classes offered online.

  • First-Novel Writing Course: Students learn the essential building blocks of the writing craft in this introductory class, often with the goal of completing a novel's first chapter. Attention is given to constructing plot, point-of-view and setting. This type of course may be taken as personal enrichment or as part of a creative writing program.
  • Personal Essay Writing Course: A memoir or personal essay writing class focuses on individual experience, memory and thoughts as creative nonfiction. Writing strategies like descriptive language, use of active voice and revision are explored. Typically, the biographical works of well-known memoirists are studied as examples.
  • Novel Writing Course: Some online novel writing classes break down the writing process into guided steps. Hopeful writers participate in online discussions and receive advice from instructors (who are often published novelists) on how to proceed from a first draft, acquire an agent and finally sell their novel. Guided writing classes of this type are usually intended for all levels of experience.
  • Online Mentorship Program for the Aspiring Novelist: The mentorship program is characteristically a small, exclusive course for a few students who have novels near completion. The budding novelist is usually mentored by an accomplished author. Students share feedback and constructive criticism in online discussions. This workshop-style of program is usually for students in a master's creative writing program.
  • Story Structure for the Novel Course: This course teaches the core of a long-form story. Students learn to build from an initial premise through a novel's final pages. Course work may include development of a synopsis. Building from that synopsis, other assignments may include sample passages that bring events and characters to life.
  • Creative Nonfiction: How to Grab Your Reader Course: This course will teach students how to setup a story in which tension is developed and characters are engaging. Course topics include theme and direction, memoirs and literary journalism.
  • Essay Writing in a Changing World Course: In this course, students will learn about the use of modern technology and how it influences the current marketplace of writing. Special emphasis will be placed on writing cultural criticism, political pieces and social change.

Program Information

Novel and essay writing classes are readily available online for writers, educators or anyone who seeks to hone their writing skills. Choices range from continuing education courses to master's degree programs, and are offered by both 2- and 4-year schools. Students may select from a variety of formats as well, including independent study options or workshops with online critique sessions.

Programs may require specific word-processing or writing software for compatibility with other students' software and the school's learning management system. Students should check whether their chosen course is taught in real time or if they can participate on their own schedule.

Online novel and essay writing courses are available through continuing education departments and master's degree programs. Students will study topics like personal essays, what it's like to write your first novel and how to capture a reader's attention.

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