Yesterday I blogged about using Coursera to become an expert in a topic you might need to know for your latest fiction (infectious diseases, anyone?) But what if the topic you want to learn about is fiction writing itself? Where can you find a good, free course on honing your craft?
Ever heard of Massachusetts Institute of Technology? Well, MIT Open Courseware is their online portal that lets you browse through over 2200 courses offered through MIT. They’ve published all of their course content online, including syllabi, lists of assigned readings, and often teachers’ notes, and it’s all yours to peruse. As of this post, the Literature Department alone had 114 courses available to the public, including Intro to Fiction, and and every possible class on literature and interpretation you can imagine. Then there’s the Comparative Media Studies/Writing Department which had 121 courses posted, including Genre Fiction Workshop, Writing and Experience, and Writing and Reading Short Stories.
I am slowly working my way through the Writing and Reading Short Stories curriculum, and it’s been fantastic. I bought the textbook, The Art of the Short Story, and have been able to follow along week by week with the readings and the teacher’s notes. I even used some of the materials in my own writing group for an additional “crafting” session.
Unlike Coursera, you can’t enroll in these classes. And only a handful of them offer full video lectures. But if you’re self-motivated and are just looking for a reading list with some exercises to get you started toward a deeper understanding of writing and literature, MIT’s Open Courseware is perfect.
Be sure to check out the other departments as well. You can browse by topic here.