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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?


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Writing Creative Fiction Picture
Writing Creative Fiction Picture

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Course Lessons

  • Lesson 1: The Short Story Landscape in America

    Who reads short stories in America? Who writes them? Who will read your story?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Lesson 4: Telling the Story: Structure & Plot

    In this lesson, we're focusing on plot, story structure, narrative -- whatever you choose to call the act of telling the story.
  • Lesson 5: Styling the Words You Write

    In fiction writing, differences in style and language distinguish writers from each other.
  • Lesson 6: End Your Story Like a Master

    Brilliant conclusions are definitely possible.
  • Lesson 7: Revising Your Writing

    How long is your work a work-in-progress?
Average Lesson Rating: (281 votes)
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"Extraordinarily Helpful"
Online CEU Certificate
0.5 CEUs
5 Contact Hours
  • 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
Course Title: Writing the Great American Short Story
Course Number: 7550279
Languages: English - United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and other English speaking countries
Course Type: College Level
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), 1760 Old Meadow Road, Suite 500, McLean, VA 22102.
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: Melissa Behrend
Syllabus: View Syllabus
Duration: Continuous: Enroll anytime!
Course Fee: $65.00 (no CEU Certification) || with CEU Certification: $90.00

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.
Assignment 1Assignment5
Assignment 1A: Class Forum PostingsAssignment5
The Short Story LandscapeExam10
Assignment 2: Write the First Page of Your StoryAssignment10
Answering to the MuseExam10
Assignment 3: Character Profile WorksheetAssignment5
Developing a Main CharacterExam10
Telling the Story: Structure & PlotExam9
Styling the Words You WriteExam10
Assignment 4: Finish Your Short StoryAssignment30
End Your Story Like a MasterExam10
Revising Your WritingExam10
Total Points:124

Student Testimonials

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

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