12 Free Online Courses to Make Yourself a Better Writer

Become a better mystery/romance/fantasy/YA author with Gale Courses and your Mentor Public Library card.

Become a better mystery/romance/fantasy/YA author with Gale Courses and your Mentor Public Library card.

It’s National Novel Writing Month—that time of year when we put pen to paper (or, more likely, fingers to keyboard) and try to turn our ideas into stories.

And, frankly, that can be difficult. That’s why we’re bringing in local authors to help.

But sometimes it takes more than an evening to transform into an author, so we’ve compiled 12 free online courses that can help you become a better writer.

The classes are available via Gale Courses, which offers courses on everything from music to technology to accounting. Many of these classes are taught by college professors and they’re all free with your Mentor Public Library card.

1. Beginning Writer’s Workshop

Let’s start at the beginning. This course will improve your writing skills and introduce exercizes to stretch your creative muscles. The emphasis is on improvement through practice, so you’ll be writing from the very beginning.

2. The Keys to Effective Editing

Good writing is rewriting. (Roald Dahl said that, not us, but we agree.) Learn how to shepherd your story from rough draft to publishable manuscript.

3. Write Fiction like a Pro

This course teaches the importance of story structure. You don’t luck into good pacing, dialogue, or characters. You craft them and this class teaches how.

4. Advanced Fiction Writing

A  continuation of the previous class. Learn more about story structure, plot, character, dialogue, setting, suspense, conflict, action, viewpoint, tense, and even how to get published.

5. Writing for Children

Not all markets are the same. Learn the nuances of writing children’s literature and explore the differences between picture books, chapter books, middle grade or young adult novels.

6. Writing Young Adult Fiction

Want to be the next J.K. Rowling or Stephenie Meyer? This course provides you with the recipe for creating your own successful YA story and shows you how to get it published. It also teaches you how to craft dialogue that will resonate with teenagers.

7. Writing your Life Story

Maybe you’re not interested in fiction. Maybe you want to write your autobiography. This course will help you write the story that only you can tell.

8. Mystery Writing

This course delves into the special techniques that apply to mysteries, including crime scene description, MacGuffins, and the use of red herrings to misdirect your readers and create suspense. It also teaches the all-important distinction between plot and story.

9. Writing the Fantasy Novel

In some ways, fantasy novels are like any other kind of fiction. You need a good story, good structure, and good characters. But fantasy also offers you the chance to create worlds and species, as well as rewrite the rules of science or magic. That’s a big opportunity and a lot of work. This course gives you a roadmap to navigate the more fantastic parts of your imagination.

10. Romance Writing

Romance is the top-selling genre in mass-market fiction. Like all genres, it comes with its own tropes and expectations. This course will teach you how to meet and exceed your readers’ expectations.

11. Introduction to Screenwriting

Whether you want to write micro-budget indie films or Hollywood blockbusters, this course will teach what you need to create a script that can sell. You’ll see how to come up with an idea, develop that spark into a story, and structure it into a screenplay.

12. Publish & Sell Your E-Books

Here’s the thing about writing books. When you’re done, you want to sell it too.

This course introduces you to everything you need to know to turn your manuscript into a self-published e-book that will help you make money on the Internet. You’ll learn how to format your e-book and get it ready to sell through online bookstores like Amazon and Apple.

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