Online Class: Writing the Great American Short Story

A self-paced online writing course with the specific goal of learning more about the short story form and writing one short story using traditional narrative techniques.

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  • 7
  • 11
    Exams &
  • 807
    have taken this course
  • 5
    average time
  • 0.5

Course Description

Crafting the Quintessential American Short Story

The allure of a riveting short story remains timeless. As you sit before a blank canvas, with fingers poised over the keyboard, there's a palpable desire to craft a narrative that reverberates through the annals of American literature. The legacies of Poe, Cheever, and Welty serve as a testament to the power of this genre. Yet, the question remains: Can you pen a story that leaves an indelible mark on its readers?

Introducing our comprehensive course, designed for budding writers like you, yearning to weave tales that resonate deeply and linger long after they've been consumed.

Why Choose This Course?

  • Vast Literary Exploration: Delve into a myriad of genres, analyzing the nuances that distinguish each one, thereby equipping you with the versatility to maneuver seamlessly across different narrative styles.

  • Master-Class Techniques: Engage in an immersive study of literary giants, dissecting the elements of plot, style, flow, voice, and tone that made their stories stand out, and learning how to infuse these into your own writing.

  • Practical Application: Writing is as much about practice as it is about theory. Our course ensures you get ample opportunities to pen your thoughts, revise, and learn to handle feedback constructively.

Course Overview:

  1. The Short Story Landscape in America: Gain a historical and contemporary overview of American short stories. Understand the cultural and societal nuances that have shaped this literary form over the decades.

  2. Answering to the Muse: Every writer has a unique muse. This module helps you tap into your inner inspirations, fostering a deeper connection with your creative self.

  3. Developing a Main Character: Characters drive narratives. Learn the art of creating compelling characters, ensuring they're multifaceted, relatable, and capable of evoking empathy.

  4. Telling the Story: Structure and Plot: A good story isn't just about what is told, but how it's told. Delve deep into crafting intricate plots and maintaining a consistent narrative structure to keep readers engaged from start to finish.

  5. Styling the Words You Write: The choice of words, sentence structures, and linguistic devices can profoundly impact a story's tone and mood. Master the stylistic tools that elevate prose from ordinary to extraordinary.

  6. End Your Story Like a Master: A story's ending can make or break its impact. Learn the techniques of concluding your tales in a manner that leaves readers yearning for more.

  7. Revising Your Writing: Writing is rewriting. Understand the significance of revision, refining your drafts to perfection, and ensuring every word serves a purpose.


Behind every remarkable story is a writer who dared to dream, dared to write, and dared to revise. With our course, you don't just learn to write; you learn to narrate tales that have the potential to become classics. Your stories harbor the promise of reaching countless hearts and minds. It's time to unlock that potential.

If you've ever felt the pull of the written word, if tales dance in your mind waiting to be told, then this course might just be the key to setting them free. Enroll today and set forth on a transformative literary journey.

  • 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"
(744 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
  • Lesson discussions: Who Will Read Your Short Story?; Reasons for Taking this Course
  • Complete: Assignment 1A: Class Forum Postings
  • Assessment: 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
  • Lesson discussions: Inspiration
  • Complete: Assignment 2: Write the First Page of Your Story
  • Assessment: 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. Additional lesson topics: How to Develop a Character in a Short Story or Novel 15 Total Points
  • Lesson 3 Video
  • Lesson discussions: The People Around You
  • Complete: Assignment 3: Character Profile Worksheet
  • Assessment: 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. Additional lesson topics: Plot Structure; The Short Story on Structuring Your Short Story 9 Total Points
  • Lesson 4 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Approaches to Storytelling
  • Assessment: 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. Additional lesson topics: Short Story Writing Styles 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 5 Video
  • Lesson discussions: What's Your Flavor?
  • Assessment: Styling the Words You Write

Lesson 6: End Your Story Like a Master

Brilliant conclusions are definitely possible. 40 Total Points
  • Lesson 6 Video
  • Lesson discussions: The Easy Way Out
  • Complete: Assignment 4: Finish Your Short Story
  • Assessment: 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
  • Lesson discussions: Receiving Feedback; Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course); Course Comments
  • Assessment: 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.
  • 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
Lessons Rating: 4.7 / 5 Stars (744 votes)
Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
Availability: This course is online and available in all 50 states including: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas.
Last Updated: September 2023
Course Type: 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
Course Fee: $120.00 U.S. dollars

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Student Testimonials

  • "Precise information and easy to read format. Instructor is very prompt and responsive." -- Siewleng T.
  • "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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