Course Code: wlp
For the duration of this course, you will learn the techniques that professional authors use to write effectively and create a story structure that delivers maximum impact. This first lesson explores the idea of story structure and fundamental rules that successful fiction follows. You will also learn the often-misunderstood difference between story and plot.
At the heart of every story are the dramatic elements of passion, theme, character, and premise. Your passion is what drives you to tell your story, and the theme is the underlying message it carries. To convey your theme, you will create characters who represent that theme—either positively or negatively. Put all of these together and you have your premise. This lesson focuses on all of these elements.
Character is what story is all about. Without a character, and a change in that character, there can be no story. In this lesson, you will discover why the best characters are flawed. You will see how this applies to your main character—the protagonist—and the opposition forces of the antagonist. And finally, you will map out the other characters who round out your story.
This lesson is the first of three that focus on constructing a story outline, act by act. In Act 1, you will learn how to hook your readers. Then you will fill them in with some character history called backstory. And finally, you will exit Act 1 with a bang by triggering a traumatic event in the life of your protagonist.
If Act 1 ends with a bang, Act 2 starts with a whimper. Your protagonist begins in crisis, an emotional state brought on by his or her flaw. And because of that flaw, your protagonist will struggle throughout Act 2, as the antagonist delivers setback after setback. Fortunately, at the conclusion of Act 2 your protagonist finally figures out the source of all this emotional distress and how to overcome it.
The epiphany that ended Act 2 has prepared your protagonist for triumph in Act 3. Now it's time to devise a plan. The result will be a final confrontation with the antagonist. This lesson focuses on the best way to confront your antagonist—it's not what you might guess. Then, with that climax behind you, you're ready to tie up loose ends in the ending.
You have accomplished a lot in the last few lessons. By now you should be pretty comfortable with story structure. The next three lessons take concepts you have learned and apply them to the development of a real novel. This first of these lessons focuses on using dramatic elements to create a character, his or her flaw, and then put it all together into a formal story idea.
This lesson expands the story idea for a novel into the nine checkpoints of the three-act outline. This is quite a challenge for just one lesson, but you're almost an expert at this story structuring by now.
Now that you have your outline, it's time for that magical moment when you begin expanding it into the long form. The actual novel is about to materialize. This lesson will teach you how to insert markers for the scenes that support and develop the outline.
One of the most important choices an author makes is viewpoint. It affects every aspect of the story—from theme, to pacing, to suspense. This lesson explores the three most common viewpoints—omniscient, third-person limited, and first person—and discover their advantages and disadvantages.
This lesson looks at techniques for refining your plot and controlling its pace. Then you will unravel the internal structure of various fiction pieces you've ever read, discovering a structure called scene and sequel.
Now that your novel, play, or screenplay is well underway, it's time to think about polishing the finished product. This final lesson explores the techniques that make your writing sparkle, including tips on dialogue, imagery, and establishing your own unique voice.
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.
Instructor-Led: A new session of each course begins each month. Please refer to the session start dates for scheduling.
Self-Paced: You can start this course at any time your schedule permits.
Instructor-Led: Once a session starts, two lessons will be released each week, for the 6 week duration of your course. You will have access to all previously released lessons until the course ends.
Self-Paced: You have three-month access to the course. After enrolling, you can learn and complete the course at your own pace, within the allotted access period.
Instructor-Led: The interactive discussion area for each lesson automatically closes 2 weeks after each lesson is released, so you’re encouraged to complete each lesson within two weeks of its release.
Self-Paced: There is no time limit to complete each lesson, other than completing all lessons before your three-month access.
Instructor-Led: The Final Exam will be released on the same day as the last lesson. Once the Final Exam has been released, you will have 2 weeks plus 10 days to complete the Final and finish any remaining lessons in your course. No further extensions can be provided beyond these 10 days.
Self-Paced: Because this course is self-paced, no extensions will be granted after the start of your enrollment.
If you have an idea for a book, but just can't get it together, this is the class for you. Steve Alcorn gives you the tools and the confidence to pull your ideas together and give them structure. Before you know it, you are inspired and writing. What a class! Steve Alcorn is a gifted instructor."
I have taken both Write Like a Pro and Steve's Mystery Writing course. I have now published three of the stories I worked on in Write Fiction Like a Pro, as a result of the course. Thank you, Steve, for offering it."
Can you see me? I'm giving you a standing ovation! Haven't done this much thinking, rethinking, breaking pencils, and eventually cheering since I graduated from college. Thank you for an inspiring and brilliant class!"
I don't know how much more I can rave about this course and the invaluable lessons and inspiration it has provided me. The thing that shocks me most is that I am only a new starter to this writing business and to have stumbled upon such a gem of a course so early in my learning makes me feel very lucky indeed. This course has given me a story, a passion and a dream. It has sparked a creativity I had no way of finding before. I am going to write this book and love doing it."
I let four people read my course work. I was overwhelmed with their comments. All four people said they would buy my book. What a compliment! Steve, thank you for your great lessons and for the confidence you have helped me to discover. I recommend this class to anyone who wants to learn to write successfully."
It was nice to have an instructor who wasn't afraid to have fun right along with the students. For me, it created a relaxed environment where even the smallest question never felt out of place or foolish."
I've told people that this class was life-changing when it comes to my ability to structure and complete a work of fiction. I always became blocked and wondered how people knew where their story was going next and how to make sure they were headed in the right direction. This answered all my questions and forced me to get to work on my idea. All around fantastic - worth every penny!"
I was given this course as a Christmas present from my husband. It has turned out to be the best gift ever. The course is incredibly well structured and well presented. Being a person of great ideas, but little completion, this course forced me to start and FINISH an idea. I truly appreciated instructor feedback, as I've never been able to previously allow myself the vulnerability of sharing any work. Thank you for this opportunity."
If you want to write a novel, you MUST take this course. It will set you on the right foot and save you all kinds of time you might spend floundering around on your own. Thanks, Steve, and I highly recommend this course."
Wow! This has been an amazing six weeks! My story started literally as a lark in response to Steve's question in the first lesson. I have watched it grow and develop almost on its own, an entire world of my imagination being born before my eyes. That's the most astonishing part, it came from inside ME somewhere! And I never knew I had it in me. Remarkable!"