Image by Sandy

If your notebooks brim with stories, if you are hard at work crafting a novel, if you yearn to push an idea through your pen onto paper until you write The End, here’s the class for you!

Over the course of five weeks, each student will conceive and draft a short story of up to 1,200 words. We will begin with a triggering image and build from there, reading examples, working with myths and fairy tales, drafting and revising, finding moments of tension and intensity, discovering the story spine, exploring how to begin and how to end.

Unlike our other fiction writing classes, the point of this one is to complete a story. You’ll take all that exploratory freewriting you’ve been doing and hone it until it reveals itself as a finished piece. If you have a long story or novel you’ve been developing, this is a great place to find its essence and travel a shorter narrative arc. Later, you can transfer what you’ve learned to your longer-form work.

This class is also a great preparation for National Novel Writing Month in November, which students may elect to use to expand the piece they generate here.

Like all Brave Writer classes, this one affirms and supports your child’s emerging writing voice.

This is the perfect class for the nascent author who longs to finish work and find an audience.

Class components
  • Generating an idea
  • Reading examples of other stories
  • Drafting and revising
  • Feedback and support from the instructor
  • Understanding plot
  • Enhancing story characteristics

Week 1: Freewrite We will begin with several prompts designed to produce freewriting that connects to character and explores a fictional world using the senses. This week is all about getting in the sandbox and making a mess.

Week 2: Expand Using myth, fairy tale, epigraphs, songs, and/or works of art, this week’s exercises will help students add dimension to their blossoming stories. Piles of sand.

Week 3: Shape While continuing to expand where needed, we will look for the spine of the story. Exercises will relate to finding the character’s primary need and problem, highlighting moments of tension, and discovering moments of surprise. Now we get out the plastic buckets and molds; sand structures appear.

Week 4: End In Week 4 we find an ending and work backward, revising with the goal of bringing forth the narrative elements that support the forward motion of the story. We will find the hotspot—the moment near the end of the story when the tension is at its highest. We will identify the truth or central idea of the story. This week is kind of like putting water in the moat and adding details to the castle with a butter knife.

Week 5: Revisit and revise In our final week, we will revisit and revise our story with that sense of truth and our new, deeper knowledge of the central idea. The ending may change; other surprises may arrive. We will look for the bubble of air—what impulse is arising that wants to find expression in your next story? Stick a little flag on top of the castle and dig an offshoot from the moat to begin the process all over again…

Start and finish a complete story! Enthusiastic writers encouraged to sign up!

Class Structure Description #

Brave Writer online classes are specially designed with the busy homeschooling parent in mind. Classes last anywhere from four to six weeks. We offer courses that address a specific writing need so that you can take the ones that suit your family throughout the school year. Short class sessions enable you to work around family vacations, out-of-town swim meets, recovering from wisdom teeth removal, and visits from grandparents. We operate on the quarter system, including a summer session. Our most popular classes repeat each quarter, while others are seasonal.

Our classes meet in a customized online classroom, designed specifically to meet the needs of Brave Writer. Only registered students and the instructor have access to the classroom to ensure your privacy. Assignments and reading materials are posted by Brave Writer instructors each week (no additional supply fees necessary, unless otherwise indicated). Either you (homeschooling parent) or your child (homeschooling student) will visit the classroom daily at your convenience to read helpful information about the current topic or to find the writing assignment. We operate "asynchronously" (which means that the discussion is not live, but that posted information remains available to you in your time zone at your convenience). Instructors check the classroom throughout the day to answer questions and give feedback on writing.

Writing is done at home and then typed into the classroom, and shared with both the instructor and other classmates. You're not required to be online at any specific time of the day. We have students from all over the world participating in our classes so "live" discussion is impossible. Instead, the online classroom enables the instructor to post information and assignments when it is convenient to the instructor. Then, when it is convenient for you, you come to the classroom and read the latest postings.

Instructor feedback to student writing is offered for all participants to read. Writing questions are welcomed and encouraged! That's the point of class. We aim to give you immediate support as you face writing obstacles.

Brave Writer takes seriously the need for encouragement and emotional safety in writing. No student is ever at risk of being humiliated or mistreated. All online dialog is respectful and supportive of your child's process. This is the core of Brave Writer philosophy. You can read about Brave Writer values here.

What makes our program especially unique in the world of online education is that we value a corporate experience. Rather than teaching your child in a tutorial format, we prefer students to have the opportunity to both publish their work for an audience (other students) and also to have the chance to read other student writing. In no other setting is this possible. Schools-in-buildings rarely have students read each other's work. Homeschooled children are rarely in a classroom environment to begin with, so the opportunity to read peer-writing is nil.

Our classes provide an utterly unique experience in the world of writing instruction. Since most writers grow through emulation of good writing, it is a real advantage to Brave Writer kids to get the chance to read the writing of their fellow home-educated peers. They love it! They get to examine and internalize other ways of writing, analyzing and expressing ideas similar to their own. They have the chance to validate and cheer on their peers. And of course, the best part of all is that they receive the praise and affirmation of kids just like them.

Not only that, all instructor feedback is posted to the classroom for all students to read. That means your kids get the benefit of instructor comments on many papers, not just their own. We've noted that this style of instruction is especially effective and hope you'll test it and agree!

Click here to login to a sample classroom.