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11 Best Online Writing Courses for 2021

Writing is a life-changing skill to invest in. Whether you’re looking to write the next bestseller or simply compose better work emails, this selection of online writing courses will help you produce compelling and captivating writing.

We’ve divided the courses into as many sub-categories as possible so that you can find the type of writing course perfect for you. Either scroll through or use the table of contents to skip to the section you want.

Storytelling / Fiction Writing Courses

Storytelling and fiction are how many of us are first introduced to the world of writing. For some of us, it sparked a desire to write our own stories and share them with the world.

The course teachers in the below selection are world-class, best-selling fiction authors. If you’re looking for a teacher, then look no further.


1. Neil Gaiman Teaches The Art of Storytelling

In this Masterclass course, best-selling fantasy Neil Gaiman teaches you his fantasy writing process and exceptional storytelling. You will cover character creation, world-building, dialogue, humor, descriptions, story development, and understanding your story’s genre. Gaiman also shares his advice for general writing, including editing and dealing with writer’s block. One lesson tackles how to write for graphic novels, which few writing courses ever cover. For any aspiring fantasy writers, this course is a must-have!

Provider: Masterclass / Subscription or Individual Payment

Chapters:

  1. Truth in Fiction
  2. Sources of Inspiration
  3. Finding Your Voice
  4. Developing the Story
  5. Story Case Study: The Graveyard Book +13 more

Instructor: Neil Gaiman is an English author of short fiction, novels, graphic novels, nonfiction, audio theatre, TV, and films. His most notable works include the novel American Gods, The Sandman graphic novels, and recently the hit TV show Good Omens, which is an adaptation of his book from the 1990s, co-authored with the late Terry Pratchett.

2. Judy Blume Teaches Writing

Judy Blume Masterclass Online Writing Course

Judy Blume’s online writing Masterclass will help you create and craft compelling creative fiction. Blume covers an extensive amount in this course; you’ll learn about finding ideas, character creation, writing dialogue, and crafting plot. She also explains the process of submitting your work, working with editors, dealing with rejection, and even a lesson on her experience with controversy and censorship. As many of Blume’s books are aimed at younger readers, there is a section specifically dealing with this, which any aspiring children or young adult author will find invaluable.

Provider: Masterclass / Subscription or Individual Payment

Chapters:

  1. Judy’s Childhood
  2. Finding Ideas – Part 1
  3. Finding Ideas – Part 2
  4. Idea Case Studies
  5. Writing for Younger Readers +18 more

Instructor: Judy Blume is an American author of children and young adult fiction. Her books have sold millions of copies around the world and influenced a generation of young women. Her works include Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Deenie, and Blubber.

3. Dan Brown Teaches Writing Thrillers

In this Masterclass, best-selling author and master of suspense Dan Brown will teach you the art of writing a thriller. Brown shares his process of researching, writing, and editing. You will also learn how to craft heroes and villains, create suspense, select and utilize point-of-view, write dialogue, and much more. The course also includes a lesson where Brown shares his experiences of life as a writer, what it takes to succeed, and ‘how to write a query letter that will stand out in agency slush piles.’

Provider: Masterclass / Subscription or Individual Payment

Chapters:

  1. The Anatomy of a Thriller
  2. Finding the Idea
  3. Choosing Locations
  4. Creating Heroes and Villains
  5. Universal Character Tools +13 more

Instructor: Dan Brown is an American writer and author of the worldwide bestsellers, the Robert Langdon series, Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol, Inferno, and Origin. Even if you’ve not read the books, you’ve likely seen the blockbuster movie adaptations.

4. James Patterson Teaches Writing

James Patterson Masterclass Online Writing Course

In this Masterclass course, bestselling author James Patterson teaches you his blueprint for writing. Patterson’s course breaks down every aspect of writing a novel, from start to finish. He covers generating ideas, plot, research, outlines, character creation, dialogue, first lines, and writing suspense. With such an impressive number of books under his belt, Patterson is someone who has genuinely nailed down the process of writing novels.

Provider: Masterclass / Subscription or Individual Payment

Chapters:

  1. Passion + Habit
  2. Raw Ideas
  3. Plot
  4. Research
  5. Outlines +16 more

Instructor: James Patterson is an American philanthropist and author. He has consecutively reached the No. 1 New York Times bestsellers spot 19 times and is currently the world’s best-selling author. He is most well known for his thriller and mystery novels, such as the Alex Cross and Women’s Murder Club series.

5. R.L. Stine Teaches Writing for Young Audiences

R.L Stine Masterclass Online Writing Course

If you’re looking to write for a young audience, then R.L. Stines’ Masterclass course is for you. Stine teaches you how to craft a captivating—and scary—read for young-adult audiences. The course covers everything from coming up with your first idea to publicizing yourself as a writer. Lessons include ‘Dialogue and Prose Style,’ ‘Mixing Horror and Humor,’ and ‘How to Scare Your Readers.’ For an aspiring young-adult writer, the course provides an invaluable insight into the mind of one of the most successful to ever write in the genre!

Provider: Masterclass / Subscription or Individual Payment

Chapters:

  1. The Idea Store
  2. Other Rich Sources of Ideas
  3. Getting From Idea to Plot Outline
  4. Outlining: Surprise Endings and Cliffhangers
  5. Outlining: Plot Twists and Tricks +22 more

Instructor: R.L Stine is an American short story writer, novelist, television producer, screenwriter, and author of the mega-selling Goosebumps young-adult horror book series. His books have sold over 400 million copies worldwide, which has landed him on the bestseller list multiple times. Even after writing for more than six decades, Stine is still writing and is also active on social media.


Non-Fiction Writing Courses

Non-Fiction writing is all about the real world. It can focus on facts or be about sharing opinions. Regardless it should inform your reader and teach them something new. Sometimes the real world can be more excited than fiction. However, sometimes it’s not; this makes the art of writing compelling and captivating non-fiction a masterful skill.


6. Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing

Malcom Gladwell Masterclass Online Writing Course

In this Masterclass, journalist and bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell teaches you his process for writing page-turning non-fiction books. You will learn how to research and develop ideas, interview subjects, build characters and worlds, master your tone and voice, add humor and melancholy, and more. Gladwell also shares how to become a competent reader of other books and what life is like working as a writer. Gladwell is at the top of his game as a non-fiction writer; you won’t find a better teacher!

Provider: Masterclass / Subscription or Individual Payment

Chapters:

  1. Structuring Narrative: The Imperfect Puzzle
  2. Holding Readers: Tools for Engagement
  3. Holding Readers: Controlling Information
  4. Research
  5. Selecting the Story +18 more

Instructor: Malcolm Gladwell CM is a Canadian journalist, author, and public speaker, and intellectual. He has published five books in total, all of which we’re on the New York Times bestseller list. Gladwell is a master of ordering and communicating his thoughts for his readers. His latest book is ‘Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know.’


Memoir / Personal Essay Writing Courses

Memoir and personal writing are about sharing, being honest, and truthful, and that’s not an easy thing. You are putting yourself and your experiences out there in the world, and that takes guts. It’s a tricky genre to navigate, which is why it helps to read and learn from those who’ve already published personal stories.


7. Creative Writing: Crafting Personal Essays with Impact

Roxane Gay Skillshare Creative Writing Course

Roxane Gay, in her Skillshare Original course, shares how to craft a compelling and impactful personal essay. You’ll learn about connecting your work to broader conversations and timely themes, conducting crucial research to support your work, navigating personal memories, writing and revising your final draft, submitting your work for publication, and more. Few courses explore the topic of personal essay writing, which makes this a valuable course for any aspiring autobiographical writer.

Provider: Skillshare / Free Trial or Subscription

Chapters:

  1. Start With Your Why
  2. Looking Inward and Outward
  3. When Truth Matters
  4. Read to Know What Works
  5. Conducting Research +5 more

Instructor: Roxane Gay is a writer, professor, and editor, well known for her writing on race, gender identity, and culture. Her books and essay collections Bad Feminist, Hunger, and Difficult Women have made her a nationally bestselling author. Gay’s writing has appeared in numerous publications such as McSweeney’s and Tin House. She is also a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times.


Academic Writing Courses

Writing in an academic format is strangely different from nearly every other writing style. The goal is to be communicative, concise, informative when dealing with complex ideas. You’ll also be juggling with jargon and technical language not used in everyday writing. Typically, it takes students a couple of years to become familiar with this writing style, so being able to skip the trial-and-error learning process with a series of online writing courses would be incredibly useful.


8. Academic English: Writing Specialization Course

This writing specialization offered by Coursera and University California, Irvine. It is structured like a university course, allowing you to enroll and receive a certification of completion. This writing specialization features five courses; Grammar and Punctuation; Getting Started with Essay Writing; Advanced Writing; Introduction to Research for Essay Writing. Each of these has several modules within them. If you’re looking for a more formal structured learning experience, this is the course for you!

Provider: Coursera x UCI / Free or Individual Payment for Certificate

Courses:

  1. Grammar and Punctuation
  2. Getting Started with Essay Writing
  3. Advanced Writing
  4. Introduction to Research for Essay Writing
  5. Project: Writing a Research Paper

Provider: Coursera is a MOOC based learning platform founded in 2012 that offers degree-level education online. Coursera is partnered with many highly reputable Universities in the USA and around the world. Students have access to recorded lectures, peer-reviewed assignments, as well as access to an online discussion forum.


Technical Writing Courses

When we’re talking about technical writing, we’re talking about grammar, sentence structure, etc. Learning to write technically is no doubt something you last did in your early school years. As a result, many adults do not feel comfortable in their writing and often second guess their use of words, grammar, and sentence structure. If that applies to you, then technical online writing courses are a great place to start.

If grammar is a sticking point for you, we’d recommend installing Grammarly. We use it here at Learnerfix. It’s incredible at spotting writing and grammatical errors you otherwise would have missed!


9. Ninja Writing: The Four Levels Of Writing Mastery

Shani Raja Udemy Course

Available on Linkedin Learning and Udemy, Shani Raja’s course focuses on improving your technical writing skills. You will learn how to construct your work at four different levels; narrative, paragraph, sentence, and word. By the end of this course, you will understand how to communicate your ideas effectively and how to create a captivating well-understood narrative for your readers.

Provider: Linkedin Learning / Free Trial or Subscription

Chapters:

  1. The Narrative
  2. Paragraphs
  3. Sentences
  4. Words
  5. Conclusion

Instructor: Shani Raja is a journalist, writer, and editor. He has worked for some of the world’s leading publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Financial Times, and Bloomberg News. Shani also teaches advanced writing skills to professionals in the industry at places such as Microsoft and IBM. He also teaches journalism to undergraduates.

10. Tom Geller – Writing With Impact

Tom Geller Writing With Impact Course

This LinkedIn Learning course by writer Tom Geller teaches you how to write concisely and with impact. You’ll learn how to grab the reader’s attention, use high-context language, utilize sentence rhythm, find your voice, and much more. The first half of the lessons teach you precisely what impactful writing is and also helps you understand your readers. The second half tackles the different aspects of impactful writing; these lessons are ‘write short,’ ‘write clear,’ and ‘write right.’ The course is compact, and each section gets right to the point, so you can be sure you’re spending your time wisely.

Provider: Linkedin Learning / Free Trial or Subscription

Chapters:

  1. What is Writing with Impact?
  2. Learning about Your Readers
  3. Understanding How People Read
  4. Write Short
  5. Write Clear +1 more

Instructor: Tom Geller has worked in communications for over two decades. Working mainly in business and technology, he has held roles as a writer, editor, journalist, videographer, presenter, educator, web designer, layout artist, and public relations executive.


Screenwriting Courses

Screenwriting is unique in that it doesn’t follow typical writing conventions. It’s an entirely different beast compared to regular writing.

If you’re looking to become a screenwriter, aside from reading lots of scripts, it would be advisable to learn from a professional. Not everyone has the chance to go to film school or take a specialized program; however, online writing courses specifically for screenwriting can be just as good, if not better. You’ll undoubtedly save yourself a lot of money!


11. Aaron Sorkin Teaches Screenwriting

Aaron Sorkin Masterclass Online Screenwriting Course

Sorkin’s online Masterclass course gives an often unseen insight into the world of screenwriting. The beginning of his course teaches you about what drives storytelling in film, how to come up with story ideas, how to research, and how to develop characters. He also takes you through the structural process of screenwriting with the rules of storytelling and how a film story arc works. The latter part of the course focuses heavily on case studies and how to write individual scenes. Online screenwriting courses relatively rare, which makes this Masterclass by Aaron Sorkin such a fantastic resource.

Provider: Masterclass / Subscription or Individual Payment

Chapters:

  1. Intention & Obstacle
  2. Story Ideas
  3. Developing Characters: Part 1
  4. Developing Characters: Part 2
  5. Research +29 more

Instructor: Aaron Sorkin is an Academy Award-winning screenwriter, director, producer, and playwright. His work has made him one of the most well-known and prolific writers in the industry today. You may know him from his screenwriting work on ‘The West Wing,’ ‘The Social Network,’ ‘Steve Jobs,’ and ‘Molly’s Game.’

Enjoy our online writing courses list? Check out our Graphic Design or Filmmaking course lists for more!