Course Code: afw
Welcome to Advanced Fiction Writing! Throughout the course, you'll take a detailed look at all the aspects of fiction writing, including story structure, plot, character, dialogue, setting, suspense, conflict, action, viewpoint, tense, and even how to get published. You'll begin this lesson by learning about the three-act story structure and how you can use it to create emotionally satisfying fiction.
Where do plots come from? Sometimes an idea pops into your head, and all of its details play themselves out as you jot them down. Other times, coming up with a good plot is a real struggle. Wouldn't it be great if there were some templates you could use to create plots that would work? Fortunately, there are. In this lesson, you'll learn about them.
The driving force behind whatever you write is character. Without a well-constructed, believable character, your readers won't care about the story. And without a consistent, clearly defined character, you won't have anyone to traverse the physical obstacles of the plot. How do you create well-constructed, believable, consistent, and clearly defined characters? You'll learn how to do so in this lesson.
In this lesson, you'll turn your attention to viewpoint, voice, and tense. You'll have a chance to test-drive those ideas and an opportunity to try out your possible choices on sample scenarios to see how they work for you. Some examples will be provided.
What good is setting, anyway? Is it just a bunch of set decoration that you can add without much consideration of the story or plot? Oh, no. Setting is actually one of your most powerful tools for conveying emotion. How so? Setting helps establish your story's mood, reinforces your theme, and immerses your readers in the story, which makes all your other words more memorable. You'll explore all these ideas in this lesson.
To write your long form, it's vital for you to understand that every sentence contributes to the flow of your prose. Each paragraph relates to those that come before and after. In this lesson, you're going to delve into the internal structure of fiction, called scene and sequel. You'll discover how to use scene and sequel with the checkpoints of story structure, with dialogue, and with an eye to pacing. You'll also have lots of exercises to help you polish your scene and sequel skills throughout this lesson.
In this lesson, you'll learn about action and suspense. Conflict creates action, and it also creates suspense, which is the possibility of action. As essential as conflict is, it's surprisingly hard to write. Why? Because most people spend their lives trying to avoid it. As a writer, though, you must immerse yourself in conflict. This lesson will teach you how to do so.
People spend most of their lives talking, so doesn't it seem like it should be easy to write dialogue? Actually, in many ways, it's the most difficult part of fiction writing. Creating convincing, meaningful dialogue that advances the plot and contributes to character development can be an author's greatest challenge. In this lesson, you'll meet that challenge and see how to succeed.
There's only one chance to make a first impression—that's as true of fiction as it is of people. So in this lesson, you'll examine how to make your first impression with your first few lines. You'll also see how to make a lasting impact with your story's last few paragraphs. You'll see lots of great examples that should help you to spark your own creative ideas.
Writing is more than a profession; i's also an art. As you begin writing your long form, you'll have many artistic tools to work with. In this lesson, you'll look at a few of them, including symbols and metaphors, plus techniques for writing "bigger."
One of the most common bits of advice to authors is "show, don't tell." In short, it means letting your readers make discoveries through your characters and their surroundings, not because you, as the author, explained it to them. Telling is a trap even very experienced authors can fall into. In this lesson, you'll explore ways to avoid it. You'll also look at the differences between drama and melodrama, and when to use each of them.
In the final lesson, you'll explore the steps needed to get your book onto the shelves of your local bookstore. First, you'll need to edit your first draft into a polished second draft. Then it's time to find an agent, a publisher, or a printer. Finally, you need to take the initiative in marketing your book. If that sounds like a lot of effort, it is. But seeing your book in print makes everything well worth it.
Steve Alcorn is the published author of a wide range of fiction and nonfiction works. During the past decade he has helped more than 30,000 students turn their story ideas into reality, and many of his students have published novels they developed in his classes. His novels include the mystery A Matter of Justice, the historical novel Everything in Its Path, and the picture storybook Molly Builds a Theme Park. He is the author of the non-fiction books How to Fix Your Novel, Theme Park Design, and Write Your Life Story. When he isn't writing and teaching, Steve is the CEO of Alcorn McBride Inc., a leading theme park design company.
There are no prerequisites to take this course.
The instructional materials required for this course are included in enrollment and will be available online.
A new session of each course opens each month, allowing you to enroll whenever your busy schedule permits.
Once a course session starts, two lessons will be released each week for the six-week duration of your course. You will have access to all previously released lessons until the course ends.
The interactive discussion area for each lesson automatically closes two weeks after each lesson is released, so you're encouraged to complete each lesson within two weeks of its release.
The final exam will be released on the same day as the last lesson. Once the final exam has been released, you will have two weeks plus 10 days (24 days total) to complete the final and finish any remaining lessons in your course. No further extensions can be provided beyond these 10 days.
Steve is a student's dream -- attentive, knowledgeable, and able to present course material in a fun and interesting way. He is admirably meticulous in checking the discussion forums and offering comments on student work, even when work is posted days after more recent lessons have been released. A wonderful instructor and a wonderful class -- both highly recommended!"
Steve is wonderful. I don't know how he does online what so many instructors can't do in a classroom. The content and pace were beyond expectation. His critiques were always immensely encouraging and right on. Thank you Steve."
This course has energized and motivated me more than I can possibly imagine. I loved every bit of it and I learned so much. I really got a lot out of lesson 5 with sharpening your descriptions and loved the whole lesson on metaphors and similes. One piece I wrote I read to my husband and he asked which book that came out of!! I felt so great. I can't wait to tackle my original novel and apply the things I've learned and also continue on with my second one. I can't thank you enough Steve, and everyone in the course who gives such wonderful feedback!!"
Steve Alcorn's courses should be a literal MUST to every single aspiring writer in the entire civilized world. No one should ever go into writing without first mastering the basic fundamentals of construction that he teaches."
Before this class, I had read (and even studied) several books on writing fiction. Although several mentioned scene and one spoke of the importance of emotion, not one of them mentioned scene structure as taught here. Scene & sequel is powerful. I'll be back for Mystery Writing and Write Like a Pro in a few weeks. Thanks Steve."
For six weeks I've been excited, anticipating each lesson. It would be impossible to pick out what the most valuable thing I've learned would be; there are so many. I'm more determined than ever to complete and publish my novel and this class and Write Fiction Like A Pro have given me the confidence and drive I needed!"
One of the stories I workshopped with you just won first prize in the National Medical Fiction Writing Competition for Physicians. Your advice and teaching made a huge difference in my writing quality and your support encouraged me to keep going. Now I can keep working on getting that novel published!"
I'm glad you encouraged us to go back to our old writing. I found that by applying your techniques to very small sections of the old stories, those sections sprang to life. They improved not simply because of the rewriting techniques, but by virtue of the fact that they were being minutely examined, a task required by the specificity of the exercises. I loved that you provided a technique for getting into that. This class is like giving a knife to a starving man at an oyster roast. I'll be taking your other classes."
I thought I was blocked. After about three of Steve's lessons, I realized that I haven't been blocked, I just plain didn't know enough about the structure of a novel to write one effectively. Now a publisher had asked to see more of my work. Thanks, Mr. Alcorn."
This class was great!!!! I learned so much. I've been writing for a long time and have read countless books on the craft as well as how to get published. In this short period of time I learned more than all of those books put together. It's as though no one wants to tell the real secrets....hmmm. Thanks, Steve, for telling it like it REALLY is and giving me the best advice. I am certain to be published now and will most definitely send you the first autographed copy."