Analyzing literary classics and her own work, Margaret demonstrates her approach to crafting complex dystopias.
A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps, assignments, and supplemental materials.
Learn on your own terms, at your own pace on mobile, desktop, or Apple TV.
Meet your new instructor: Man Booker Prize-winning author Margaret Atwood. In your first lesson, Margaret shares her perspective on the art of writing and who ultimately gives your book its meaning.
Margaret encourages you to find your own path, overcome obstacles like fear, and start writing by sharing her own writer’s story and creative process.
Learn what makes a strong plot. Margaret advises you to study myths, fairy tales, and other historical works of literature so that you can use them as building blocks for your stories.
Margaret illustrates the myriad ways you can structure your story and create a multi-layered narrative, using the classic tales Little Red Riding Hood, Arabian Nights, and her own novel The Blind Assassin as examples.
Choosing the right point of view to tell your story from involves a lot of trial and error. Margaret explains the impact this decision has on your story, and offers an exercise to help you explore the effects of various points of view.
In this chapter, Margaret discusses her use of multiple points of view in Alias Grace, and why she wrote The Handmaid’s Tale from the first person point of view.
Actions and reactions reveal character, but so do details the writer thoughtfully weaves into the story. Margaret offers concrete tools to help you create nuanced, well-developed characters you know by heart.
Margaret teaches why the most compelling characters are often not very likeable, and delves into how gender plays into our expectations about character.
Learn Margaret’s advice for overcoming challenges such as constant interruption, writer’s block, or a narrative problem you can’t figure out how to solve.
Margaret teaches how to use dialogue to reveal character and story, and discusses the importance of making your dialogue authentic to the time and place in which your narrative transpires.
The more specific your details, the more engaged your readers. Learn how Margaret uses The Handmaid’s Tale to illustrate her approach to imagery.
Learn the difference between style and description as Margaret illustrates two different prose style extremes—baroque and plainsong.
Margaret explains the significance of time in fiction, and offers advice on keeping readers oriented without compromising your story structure.
From Melville to Dickens, Margaret shares some of her favorite opening lines and underscores the value of making your first five pages utterly compelling.
Margaret teaches her approach to keeping readers engaged through the middle of your book and discusses the merits of closed and open endings to your story.
For Margaret, revision is an opportunity to take a fresh look at your book and consider new possibilities. Learn the value of soliciting feedback from select readers, and the importance of a good line editor.
Margaret discusses the evolution of the novel and asserts that the writer’s objective should be to stay true to the foundational elements of storytelling, regardless of genre.
Learn Margaret's approach to writing speculative fiction and her advice on how to generate ideas and build your world in this genre.
Margaret reveals the ideas and research that inspired The Handmaid’s Tale, offering a first-hand look at some of these materials.
Getting details right is critical in historical fiction and can lend believability to any story. Margaret emphasizes this point but also shows how to avoid letting research slow you down.
Margaret reveals the one book she recommends to all writers, and shares inspirational stories from writers past and present to encourage you to persevere despite the obstacles you may confront.
From finding an agent, to getting published, and dealing with negative reviews, Margaret offers her perspective on the business of being a writer.
Margaret bids her students farewell, sharing her desire to pass on her wisdom to the next generation of writers.