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Whether you are currently writing professionally or are looking to break into the field, formal writing courses can help you to hone your skills. If you don't have the money or the time for campus-based courses, there are plenty of universities offering free writing courses online.
1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (mit.edu)
Introduction to Fiction
Writing and Reading Short Stories
Advanced Essay Workshop
MIT offers dozens of free undergraduate and graduate writing courses online through its MIT OpenCourseWare initiative. Course topics include everything from writing fiction, poems and essays to analyzing all forms of literature. Lecture notes, videos, suggested reading lists and more will help you to become the writer you've always wanted to be. No registration is required.
2. Utah State University (usu.edu)
Intro to Writing Academic Prose
Intermediate Research Writing
Technology for Professional Writers
Utah State University's Department of English publishes three free courses devoted to the art of writing through the school's OpenCourseWare program. The courses are extensive and may take up to 16 weeks to complete if you study at the average pace. No registration is required. Courses are similar to the courses that might be found in a professional writing degree program.
3. Open University (open.ac.uk)
Fiction Writing Course
Descriptive Writing Course
Essay Writing Course
The UK's largest academic institution, Open University, offers a number of different writing courses through their OpenLearn website. The free curriculum includes both undergraduate and graduate level writing courses that are available to everyone regardless of country of origin. No registration is required.
4. University of Utah (utah.edu)
Introduction to Shakespeare
Introduction to Creative Writing
The University of Utah's English Department offers free courses to self-learners around the world. Currently, there are only two free writing courses. Both offer strong preparation in their topic and are built for beginners. No registration is required.
5. Western Governors University (wgu.edu)
Rhetorical and Critical Writing
Language and Communications
Literature Course - Parts I and II
Western Governors University has made free course materials available through an open content license. There are several free writing courses courtesy of the university's Liberal Arts Department. All courses are split into convenient self-study modules. No registration is required.
6. Purdue University (owl.english.purdue.edu)
Pattern and Variation in Poetry
Proofreading Your Writing
Conquering the Comma
Purdue University brought their writing lab to life online in 1994 to offer a writing resource to students no matter where they were located. Online Writing Lab (OWL) materials are now free to everyone regardless of location or student status. The OWL site offers writing instruction, grammar and usage information, individualized help from tutors and much more. No registration is required.
7. Steven Barnes' UCLA Writing Course (lifewrite.com)
9-Week Introduction to Screenwriting Course
Best selling author and screenwriter Steven Barnes offers a free version on his website of the writing class he has been teaching for many years at UCLA. The course offers in-depth instruction on writing, which is why Barnes suggests completing each part of the nine-week course one week at a time. Nevertheless, the course can be downloaded all at once. No registration is required.
8. News University (newsu.org)
Cleaning Your Copy
Beat Basics and Beyond
Covering Breaking News
News University has a solid e-learning program designed to provide training to journalists and other professional writers. Most of the courses offered at News U are free, especially those that are self-directed. Courses cover everything from writing and editing to reporting and ethics. News U also offers a newsletter, a blog and other great resources. Registration is required, but the course is free for everyone.
9. E-Zine University (ezineuniversity.com)
Writing Clearly and Effectively
Conquering Confusing Words
Quick Ways to Clean Up Your Writing
E-Zine University offers quite a few courses written by Internet publisher Kate Schultz and visiting professors. Although the courses offered at E-Zine University are designed mainly for web writers and e-zine writers, they would be helpful to almost any scribe. Courses are very short and don't take much time to complete. No registration is required.
10. Wikiversity (wikiversity.org)
Introduction to Web Writing
Technical Writing Courses
Narrative Dialog Editing
Wikiversity is an active learning project that encourages people to create and benefit from online courses and tutorials. There are currently several different writing courses that can be found at Wikiversity, many of which focus on technical writing. Although these courses vary in length and content, there's something for everyone. No registration is required.