7 Lessons for Becoming a Standout Writer
4.9 (30 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
1,344 students enrolled
Wishlisted Wishlist

Please confirm that you want to add 7 Lessons for Becoming a Standout Writer to your Wishlist.

Add to Wishlist

7 Lessons for Becoming a Standout Writer

Tested Techniques for Fast Writing Skills Improvement
4.9 (30 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
1,344 students enrolled
Created by Duncan Koerber
Last updated 6/2017
Current price: $10 Original price: $185 Discount: 95% off
5 hours left at this price!
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
  • 2.5 hours on-demand video
  • 18 Articles
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • Write clear, precise, and direct prose
  • Find alternative ways of constructing sentences
  • Communicate better with readers
  • Avoid clichéd words and phrases
  • Develop greater command of the English language
View Curriculum
  • Word processing software like Microsoft Word or OpenOffice

Do you want to impress employers, editors, or online readers with your writing? Do you want to get A grades on term papers and essays? Do you want to become a good writer – in creative non-fiction, journalism, fiction, or academic writing – as quickly as possible?

The secret to this writing success is not studying 200 grammar and style points in the comprehensive writing textbooks. Instead, this course – designed by an experienced university professor and published author with Oxford University Press – shows you the only sentence-level lessons you need to know to write well. These are the 7 most common problems found in people’s writing. These problems most likely lurk – like weeds – in your writing right now.

If you complete the lessons, exercises, and assignments honestly and fully as outlined in this course, then your writing will improve in just a few weeks of intensive study. If you do not find this course helpful, you may request a refund within 30 days, no questions asked.

These lessons, exercises, and assignments were designed and tested at the University of Toronto and York University with thousands of undergraduate students. Many undergraduate students improved their grades by a whole grade category after completing these lessons, finding that this short list of key lessons provides clarity. Students have applied these lessons in the workplace to great success. 

Enrol now and complete this course to produce writing that gets you the job, earns you an A grade, lands you a writing contract, or impresses that magazine or newspaper editor.

In this comprehensive course, I will help you:

  • See sentences more objectively;
  • Understand the factors that interfere with communication;
  • Remove dead language – such as dead verbs and weak nouns – from your writing;
  • Avoid embarrassing clichés;
  • Write more clear, direct, and precise sentences;
  • Use adjectives and adverbs more carefully, in targeted ways;
  • Write poetically and rhythmically with parallelism and sentence variation;
  • Add detail to your writing;
  • Plant vivid images in readers’ minds; and,
  • Become an original writer, not a copy.

Your writing transformation awaits...

Who is the target audience?
  • This course is primarily for beginning writers or intermediate writers looking to target trouble spots in their writing.
Students Who Viewed This Course Also Viewed
Curriculum For This Course
59 Lectures
Welcome from the Instructor
1 Lecture 01:17

A welcome from the instructor. 

Preview 01:17
Writing Clearly for Publications, Work, and School
9 Lectures 29:02

Remove wasted words and fillers from your sentences.


Little words like "very" contribute nothing to sentences. Remove them for better clarity. 

Phoney Intensifiers

Stretchers are words that prolong sentences unnecessarily. Why use them?


These kinds of words sound "big" but don't help you communicate. Avoid them. 


In this lecture, I respond to some questions students typically have about Economy. 

Answers to Some Questions

Exercise #1

Exercise #2

Assignment #1
How Dead Verbs Are Killing Your Writing
8 Lectures 24:06

In this video, I outline the nature of verbs and some problems with verbs. 

Verbs Introduction

The best verbs are concrete or strong, which means they evoke images immediately. 

Preview 05:32

A step down from Concrete Verbs, Weak Verbs work -- sometimes -- but should be mostly avoided. 

Weak Verbs

Dead verbs are the worst verbs because they provide no images for the reader. Avoid them most of the time. 

Dead Verbs

Explains the outcomes of dead verbs on your writing.

The Consequences of Dead Verbs

Exercise #3

Exercise #4

Assignment #2
Become an Active Writer
7 Lectures 20:31

The active voice word order is preferred over the passive voice. Learn why here. 

Active Voice Introduction

Active voice word order is explained with a formula. 

Active Voice

The passive voice word order is long and wordy -- see why. 

Passive Voice

Passive voice word order isn't just wordy, it can raise moral complications. 

Preview 04:20

There are a few instances when using the passive voice word order is okay.

Passive Voice Exceptions

Exercise #5

Assignment #3
Create Pictures in Your Writing with Strong Nouns
7 Lectures 20:37

This lecture provides an overview of the importance of strong nouns. 

Nouns Introduction

Understand what a noun is and how some nouns are better than others. 


Recognize how weak nouns are hurting your writing.

Preview 04:04

Recognize the function of a pronoun and how to best use them.


Understand that pronouns can cause problems in writing, particularly when they have an unclear reference.

When Pronouns Go Wrong

Exercise #6

Assignment #4
How to be an Original Writer and Avoid Clichés
8 Lectures 17:34

A survey of the key ideas in this section. 

Original Writing Introduction

See exactly what a clichés is and why it's such a problem in writing. 


An examination of the reasons behind people's use of clichés.

Why Do People Use Clichés?

Occasionally, it's okay to use a cliché. Learn about those instances in this lecture. 

Preview 02:24

This lecture provides a final word on being original — it's not as hard as you think. 

Being Original

Exercise #7

Exercise #8

Assignment #5
Prevent Train Wreck Sentences with Parallelism
12 Lectures 27:50

A quick overview of the key principles of parallelism.

Preview 04:38

Be able to see parallelism both in its surface and under the surface forms. 

Surface and Under the Surface Parallelism

Add more verbs to your writing with verb lists. 

Verb Series

Add more strong nouns to your writing with noun series. 

Noun Series

Avoid sprinkling adjectives all over your writing by using -- occasionally -- adjective series.

Adjective Series

Avoid peppering your writing with adverbs by using -- occasionally -- adverb series. 

Adverb Series

Preposition series can provide useful effects in writing. 

Preposition Series

Taking the "series" idea further, this lecture shows how you can combine grammatical elements to make more meaning in your writing. 

Multiple Element Series

A few final thoughts on parallelism as a technique. 

Parallelism Conclusion

Exercise #9

Exercise #10

Assignment #6
Freshen your Sentences with Patterns and Length Variation
7 Lectures 19:10

An overview of the principles of sentence variation discussed in this section. 

Sentence Variation Principles

Five patterns that students can use to vary their sentences. 

Sentence Patterns

Recognize how to use short sentences for effect in action and in presenting important points. 

Preview 02:53

The long sentence -- often called the freight-train sentences -- creates certain effects in writing. 

Long Sentences

See the contrast that occurs when a short sentence comes after a long one.

The Variation of Long and Short for Effect

Exercise #11

Assignment #7
About the Instructor
Duncan Koerber
4.6 Average rating
229 Reviews
4,440 Students
10 Courses
University Professor

Dr. Duncan Koerber has taught writing and communications courses for the past 10 years at six Canadian universities to thousands of students.

Oxford University Press recently published his writing textbook, Clear, Precise, Direct: Strategies for Writing (2015). Available on Amazon, the book considers the seven most common errors (interfering factors) in writing and how to improve them (enhancing factors). His second book, Crisis Communication in Canada, is in the revision process for University of Toronto Press.

Currently a full-time assistant professor at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada, Duncan Koerber worked for nearly 10 years in reporting and editing roles for the London Free Press, the Mississauga News, and the University of Toronto Medium. He has freelanced for magazines and newspapers, including the Toronto Star.

Duncan Koerber has been a successful freelance editor, earning a 95% success rating on Upwork. 

Duncan Koerber has a bachelor of arts degree in English, Professional Writing, and Political Science from the University of Toronto (2001), a master of arts degree in Journalism from the University of Western Ontario (2003), and a Ph.D. in Communication and Culture from York University and Ryerson University (2009).

His academic writing, which focuses on media and journalism history, writing pedagogy, and public relations crisis communication, has been published in the Canadian Journal of Communication, the Journal of Canadian Studies, Journalism History, Media History, Composition Studies, Canadian Journal of Media Studies, and Sport History Review.