The 10 best creative writing short courses to kick off your practice

Whether you want to write a short story, novel, children’s book, biography or simply give in to your creative writing compulsion, we have the short course you didn’t know you needed.

Creative Writing_Edit

Which short course is best for creative writing?

So many choices, so many opportunities. Talk about paralysis analysis! Let us simplify your decision-making by calling out a few courses that are available to study online with leading Australian universities, through Open Universities Australia.

It’s worth noting that while the following are referred to as short courses when studied as a one-off, they are also known as subjects and can be studied while working towards a full-length degree. But more on that later!

Best for creative writing newbies

Maybe you never had the chance to exercise your creative writing muscle at school, TAFE or university. Unlike competitive sport, it’s never too late to get in the game. These short writing courses will demystify the writing process and unlock your inner storyteller. 

1. An Introduction to Creative Writing, Macquarie University (18 weeks)

The first step to writing is reading with an analytical eye. Listen to lectures, take part in interactive writing workshops and be experimental in your writing exercises. 

2. Creative Writing, Curtin University (13 weeks)

Learn about the different narrative techniques that writers use, then try writing short stories and scenes for film or the stage. Give writing poetry a go as well. 

3. Creative Writing, Forms and Structures, Griffith University (13 weeks)

Understand the form and structure in a variety of genres and write original pieces as well as exegetical notes. What’s an exegesis? An essay that explains the logic of your thought process and choice of themes and literary technique. Woohoo! You’ve already learned something! This course also gives you an idea of what a degree in creative writing will be like.

Best for those interested in short stories

Short stories usually contain between 1000 and 4000 words. They’re compact, pack an emotional punch and are considered a genre of their own. 'The Tell-Tale Heart' by Edgar Allan Poe and 'Bernice Bobs Her Hair' by F. Scott Fitzgerald are some famous, if older, examples. Find more contemporary ones here!

4. Writing the Short Story, Griffith University (13 weeks)

Get granular! You’ll discover and discuss theme, allegory, symbolism, emotion, structure, mood, psychology of characters and much more. There’s even a section on avant-garde forms and elements.

5. Writing Short Fiction, Curtin University (13 weeks)

This is an intermediate-level course that examines the traditions, parameters and possibilities of short fiction. Discuss and dissect each other’s work in writing workshops and practise drafting and editing.

Best for those who want to write a novel (or novella)

First things first—what’s a novella? Because if you don’t know what it is, how would you know if you want to write one? If short stories are at one end of the spectrum and the full-length novel is at the other, novellas are somewhere in between. Novellas are usually around 17,500 to 40,000 words long, while novels contain 80,000 words on average.

6. Writing Long Fiction, Curtin University (13 weeks)

Find out how to plan a novel or novella, including common challenges of doing so. Come up with a new piece of work and write a few chapters. Engage in constructive critique of your course-mates’ works in progress while receiving feedback for your own.

7. Advanced Fiction, La Trobe University (12 weeks)

Apart from drafting an excerpt of your own work, take part in an intensive revision process with peer-to-peer feedback. You’ll also explore crime, speculative and historical fiction genres.

Best if you want to write non-fiction

Memoirs and biographies are hugely popular. Just look at the submission guidelines of major publishers like Allen & Unwin and Hachette. In hard numbers, non-fiction is head-to-head with fiction—59% of all Australian readers like non-fiction, while 65% say they like fiction.

8. Creative Non Fiction, La Trobe University (12 weeks)

Learn about different forms of memoir and creative non-fiction, how to tell other people’s stories and how to write about places, landscape and nature. Discuss making ethical and creative decisions, plus do a whole lot of writing—besides producing a 2,000-word piece, you’ll also respond to weekly online writing prompts.

Best for those who want to push (or destroy) the envelope

If commercial fiction wants its readers to be transported by its plot, experimental writing challenges readers to engage in active reading—it plays with form, stretches the limits of language and can’t be easily labelled. 

9. Experimental Writing, Curtin University (13 weeks)

According to some, "fiction is a trudge, poetry is a dance". In this course, focus on post-modern poetry, avant-garde poets and other emerging genres. Create a performance text using spoken word poetry, mixed media and (if you wish) audience participation. Leave with a folio of poetic work.

Best if you want to write for kids or young adults

Nielsen BookData reports that the CYA (children’s and young adult) fiction category grew 16% in value between October 2021 and 2022 and represents 29% of the Australian book market. This makes it one of the most commercially-viable types of books you could write.

10. Writing for Children, Curtin University (13 weeks)

In this course, you’ll work towards creating three marketable concepts to a professional standard—a picture book, a work of junior fiction and one of adolescent fiction. 

Is studying a creative writing course worth it?

Definitely, especially if you don’t already have experience writing regularly. A course will help you overcome any fears or misconceptions you have about writing. It will also arm you with formal knowledge and give you the analytical and critical vocabulary you need to discuss and improve your work. 

Learning creative writing online is also perfect for thoughtfully reflective types… ahem, most writers. It’s a good balance of finite periods for learning, sharing and critique (camera on or off, depending on how you feel), along with quiet time to beaver away on your own. 

You might even find real comradeship with the other aspiring writers in your course. It's an incredible way to build a network of support as you complete your works and attempt to get published! 

 

Interested in studying an undergraduate or postgraduate creative writing degree once you’ve finished your short course? The good news is, you can gain credit for some of the courses above to work towards a full-length course. Just chat to a student advisor.

 

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