Writing the Great American Short Story

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  • 7
  • 11
    Exams &
  • 541
    have taken this course
  • 5
    average time
  • 0.5

Course Description

A pair of hands on the keyboard, a blank screen, and a single wish: You want to write the Great American Short Story! You've read many of them -- Poe's "Black Cat," Cheever's "Enormous Radio," Welty's "The Worn Path" -- but have you come close to writing a tale that lingers with readers after the last page is turned?


In this class, you will gain the inspiration and the discipline to write a short story of 1000 to 8000 words. We will use examples from all genres, exploring the techniques of plot, style, flow, voice and tone that will make your fiction sing. This close reading of master works is accompanied by tried and true methods for putting words on the page, revising, and handling criticism from others. One thing's for sure: Your stories are ready to tell themselves to you. And, if all goes well enough, they'll tell themselves to the world as well. So, are you ready to start writing?


  • Completely Online
  • Self-Paced
  • Printable Lessons
  • Full HD Video  
  • 6 Months to Complete
  • 24/7 Availability
  • Start Anytime
  • PC & Mac Compatible
  • Android & iOS Friendly
  • Accredited CEUs
  • Universal Class is an IACET Accredited Provider

    Course Lessons

    Average Lesson Rating:
    4.7 / 5 Stars (Average Rating)
    "Extraordinarily Helpful"
    (653 votes)

    Lesson 1: The Short Story Landscape in America

    Who reads short stories in America? Who writes them? Who will read your story? 11 Total Points
    • Lesson 1 Video
    • Take Poll: Who Will Read Your Short Story?
    • Take Survey: Reasons for Taking this Course
    • Complete: Assignment 1A: Class Forum Postings
    • Complete Exam: The Short Story Landscape

    Lesson 2: Answering to the Muse

    Before you can begin writing a story, you need to know what story you will write. In this lesson, we'll consider how a short story is born. 20 Total Points
    • Lesson 2 Video
    • Take Poll: Inspiration
    • Complete: Assignment 2: Write the First Page of Your Story
    • Complete Exam: Answering to the Muse

    Lesson 3: Developing a Main Character

    Who is your hero, and why? The hero or heroine of your story is the person the reader must become as the story progresses. 15 Total Points
    • Lesson 3 Video
    • Review Article: How to Develop a Character in a Short Story or Novel
    • Take Poll: The People Around You
    • Complete: Assignment 3: Character Profile Worksheet
    • Complete Exam: Developing a Main Character

    Lesson 4: Telling the Story: Structure and Plot

    In this lesson, we're focusing on plot, story structure, narrative -- whatever you choose to call the act of telling the story. 9 Total Points
    • Lesson 4 Video
    • Review 2 Articles: Plot Structure; The Short Story on Structuring Your Short Story
    • Take Poll: Approaches to Storytelling
    • Complete Exam: Telling the Story: Structure & Plot

    Lesson 5: Styling the Words You Write

    In fiction writing, differences in style and language distinguish writers from each other. 10 Total Points
    • Lesson 5 Video
    • Review Article: Short Story Writing Styles
    • Take Poll: What's Your Flavor?
    • Complete Exam: Styling the Words You Write

    Lesson 6: End Your Story Like a Master

    Brilliant conclusions are definitely possible. 40 Total Points
    • Lesson 6 Video
    • Take Poll: The Easy Way Out
    • Complete: Assignment 4: Finish Your Short Story
    • Complete Exam: End Your Story Like a Master

    Lesson 7: Revising Your Writing

    How long is your work a work-in-progress? 10 Total Points
    • Lesson 7 Video
    • Take Poll: Receiving Feedback
    • Take Survey: Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course)
    • Complete Exam: Revising Your Writing
    Total Course Points

    Learning Outcomes

    By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
    • Summarize the short story landscape in America.
    • Describe developing a main character.
    • Summarize telling the story.
    • Describe styling the words you write.
    • Summarize ending your story like a master.
    • Revise and edit the story, and
    • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

    Additional Course Information

    Online CEU Certificate
    • Document Your Lifelong Learning Achievements
    • Earn an Official Certificate Documenting Course Hours and CEUs
    • Verify Your Certificate with a Unique Serial Number Online
    • View and Share Your Certificate Online or Download/Print as PDF
    • Display Your Certificate on Your Resume and Promote Your Achievements Using Social Media
    Document Your CEUs on Your Resume
    Course Title: Writing the Great American Short Story
    Course Number: 9770544
    Course Requirements: View Course Requirements
    Lessons Rating: 4.7 / 5 Stars (653 votes)
    Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
    Course Type: College Level (Self-Paced, Online Class)
    CEU Value: 0.5 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
    CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
    Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
    Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
    Instructor: Dana Kristan
    Syllabus: View Syllabus
    Duration: Continuous: Enroll anytime!
    Course Fee: $65.00 (no CEU Certification) || with Online CEU Certification: $90.00

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    Student Testimonials

    • "I've had the pleasure of having this instructor before, she's GREAT!!" -- Joy K.
    • "Great Course. Great Instructor." -- Kyle B.

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