Write Fiction Like a Pro

Learn how to use story outlines like a professional writer with the help of lessons developed by a published author. This course will show you how to apply narrative structure to lend your fiction writing the maximum dramatic effect.
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6 Weeks / 24 Course Hrs
Starting  August 18, 2021
Offered in partnership with your preferred school

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Learning method

Course code: wlp

What's the single biggest difference between professional authors and novices? Professionals know how to structure novels and stories for maximum dramatic effect. This course helps you develop the same story structuring skills the pros use. You will understand how your passion, theme, premise, and characters help you create the structure of your story, and discover how viewpoint, dialogue, pacing, and many other techniques are used to build scenes and move your story from beginning to end.

Each assignment in this course helps you develop your own original novel or story. As you apply each technique, your story will take shape, with a clear path from beginning to end. Before you know it, you will be prepared to write fiction like a pro.

What you will learn

  • Learn how professional fiction writers structure their stories
  • Understand and apply story writing techniques that will enhance the impact of your writing
  • Develop your own original novel by focusing on how professionals map their stories from beginning to end
  • Examine the elements involved in professional fiction writing such as theme, characters, premise, and conflict

How you will benefit

  • Gain confidence in your ability to develop characters and captivate readers
  • Learn how to approach and execute fiction writing like the pros do
  • Discover the structural secrets and techniques behind the greatest works of fiction
  • Enhance and develop your ability to create original ideas

How the course is taught

  • Instructor-led or self-paced online course
  • 6 Weeks or 3 Months access
  • 24 course hours

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 their 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 the 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, their 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 CEO of Alcorn McBride Inc., a leading theme park design company that creates products used in all the world's theme parks. He is a proponent of advance planning and has experience with wills, living trusts, advance directives, and power of attorney. His experience also includes arranging for in-home care, nursing home selection, retirement community evaluation, memory care facility selection, and the analysis of Medicare and other insurance paperwork. He is a counselor to his employees, possessing insight into the varieties of relationships, problems, opportunities, and legal issues that can arise in the field of eldercare.

Steve 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, with many of his students publishing novels they developed in his classes. His books include A Matter of Justice, Everything In Its Path, Molly Builds a Theme Park, How to Fix Your Novel, Theme Park Design, and Write Your Life Story.

Requirements:

Hardware Requirements:

  • This course can be taken on either a PC or Mac.

Software Requirements:

  • PC: Windows 8 or newer.
  • Mac: OS X Snow Leopard 10.6 or later.
  • Browser: The latest version of Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox are preferred. Microsoft Edge and Safari are also compatible.
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader.
  • Software must be installed and fully operational before the course begins.

Other:

  • Email capabilities and access to a personal email account.

Prerequisites:

There are no prerequisites to take this course.

Instructional Material Requirements:

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 course 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 3 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 two 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 within the allotted access period.

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 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.
Self-Paced: Because this course is self-paced, no extensions will be granted after the start of your enrollment.