Alexander Pope wrote "Ode on Solitude," one of his most anthologized poems, when he was only 12 years old.

Course Description

This class will teach high school students about the craft of fiction writing through a study of classic short stories. Students will work with sustained attention on one project for 4-5 months. The goal is to produce one polished, original short story by the end of Session 3, which could possibly be submitted for publication. (Sorry, novelists! We'll only be working on short stories in this class.)

The full course consists of three sessions which must be paid for separately. Students must successfully complete the work in one session to have the chance to enroll in the next (i.e. they must read as well as write, take the quizzes, participate in class, and turn in the project at the end of each session).

Scope of Work

Students will read 1-2 short stories each week, take a short quiz, attend one live class, and complete one writing assignment .

Goal of Session 1: Outline your story.

  • Learn from the masters: What is a story?
  • Engage the imagination.
  • Outline an original story with a focus on plot structure and character.

Goals of Session 2: Draft

  • Be inspired by the masters: What makes for a good story?
  • Develop fortitude by drafting the story from beginning to end.
  • Write with a focus on narrative mode and style.

Goals of Session 3: Revise

  • Develop a deeper appreciation for the masters: How is my story working in comparison with theirs?
  • Practice giving and receiving constructive criticism in an honest, humble, and respectful way.
  • Revise your story and polish it to perfection!

Student Testimonial

Byron is now 20 years old. He is Founder and Owner of Foxling Studios. You can find his work here!

Langston Hughes wrote "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" when he was only 17.

This is a photo taken when he was in high school.

Hi, I'm Ms. Finnigan

I love helping young people nurture their talent and discover a passion for writing!

I have a B.A. in English from Boston College and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Montana, where I won the Merriam-Frontier Award for distinguished achievement in writing.

My essays have been published in a wide variety of venues both online and in print, including in an educational anthology called Humor: A Reader for Writers published by Oxford University Press.

I taught a Creative Writing class for eight years at an online school. It was a very popular class. One of the greatest compliments I received from a student: "I had no interest in creative writing but I just wanted to take another class with you, so I signed up. I'm so glad I did because I discovered that I'm actually kind of good at something I never thought I would be good at! I love this class!"

Some of my former students have formed their own writing clubs after graduation. They still "Zoom," critique each other's work, and encourage each other. I love to build trust and camaraderie in the classroom. I hope I can give your student a similar experience!

January 2024 Cohort

Maximum size: 15 students
Minimum size: 7 students

Tuition will be refunded if minimum number of students is not met.


For students age 16-18, especially those with a serious interest in creative writing.


Wednesdays, 12:00 noon PST, 3:00 p.m. EST


Ms. Finnigan's online classroom


Session 1: Jan. 17 - Feb. 28

(one week break)

Session 2: Mar. 13 - April 24

(no break)

Session 3: May 1 - ? (number of sessions and cost TBD by number of students interested)

Students must successfully complete Session 1 before enrolling in Session 2, etc.. Enrollment dependent on teacher approval.

Questions? Please feel free to reach out to me, Ms. Finnigan, at:

contact at teachtothetext dot com

Required Text

Not sold with course. Must be purchased separately.

Select a price depending on how much feedback you want from the teacher.

First 3 people to purchase the $150 plan can get $15 off with the code 15OFF

First 4 people to purchase the $225 plan can get $25 off with the code 25OFF

Note to Parents: Please read this!

For students ages 16-18.


This class will be mostly "secular," though questions of morality, good and evil, and even the soul will undoubtedly come into play, as they do in all great literature. But this is not a literature class. Rather than discussing the themes of the stories, we'll be focusing on the shape of the stories, the choices the writer made in telling them. I believe this focus on craft over meaning makes it easier for students of different backgrounds to learn together.

All are welcome!

I do not ban discussion of religion from the classroom, especially if it is pertinent (for example, with a writer like Flannery O'Connor, whose religion shapes her moral imagination); but this will not be a major focus of the class and discussions will not "push" a religious message.

At the same time, I, myself, am a Catholic. I am sympathetic to families who choose to homeschool because they want to educate their children in environments that are respectful of their Christian values. Just as I will not "push" a Christian message out of respect for students who might follow a different religious tradition (or no tradition at all), I will not allow other views or beliefs contrary to the Christian worldview to be "pushed" in class or assumed as a norm. Students shall respect each other, and should expect that we will steer clear of controversial "culture war" topics, especially with regard to sexuality. (Trust me, we'll have plenty of other things to discuss!)

I, the teacher, will deem what is and is not appropriate for class discussion, bearing all students in mind. I expect students to have a certain level of maturity, but this is a high school class.

What will we read?

I will select stories that I think are appropriate for high schoolers. I will stay away from stories that are written in poor taste, stories with explicitly adult or sexual themes or foul language, as well as "edgy" contemporary stories about social and political issues. I will try to select "classics" that have withstood the test of time and are widely recognized as great writing.

However, the great short stories are written by adults for adults, and are sometimes provocative, tragic, or dark. My students in the past have remarked, "Why are short stories so depressing?" This is another reason for the recommended age range. All of this naturally demands more maturity on the part of the students.

Concerns About Student Writing

Students will not be reading each other's writing until Session 3, at which point the teacher will have a feel for the class, students will have gotten to know each other, and some trust and rapport will have already been established.

Students are welcome to write about anything they want and will have the chance to have their work read by me, the teacher (and eventually by their peers) but they will not be entitled to have their work read by anyone. If a student's writing is offensive to my morals or sensibilities, I, the teacher, have the right to decline to read it. (I am not easily scandalized -- but I do have my limits!) If I suspect it would be inappropriate for other students to read, I may decline to let the work be exchanged, or I may ask to send it to the parents first to obtain permission to have their student read it.

I take things on a case by case basis and try to work with the students. I don't want to punish anyone for their self-expression, but I must be mindful of the other students in the class. Students will be given plenty of notice if I feel their work cannot be workshopped in class, due to its content. Students can make an informed choice whether to continue or change direction.

In ten years of teaching Creative Writing to high school students, I have only had two instances where this kind of problem arose, and each time I was able to work with the student to find an amenable solution. I just want to manage expectations going in.

Thank you for your understanding! If you have any questions or reservations, please feel free to reach out to me for clarification on any of the above.

--Ms. Finnigan

contact at teachtothetext dot com

S.E. Hinton finished writing her novel The Outsiders when she was 16 years old.