Creative Nonfiction 101

GUIDE TO NONFICTION COURSES
Nonfiction Pathways
Foundation
If you’re not sure what kind of nonfiction to write...
If you know what kind of nonfiction to write...
Or...
If you want a rather short course...
Next Steps
After completing a Level I ten-week course...
After completing Memoir II, if you want to write a book...
Selling Your Work
If you hope to get published somewhere...
Creative Nonfiction 101

Creative Nonfiction 101 is a 6-week class, which includes a mixture of lectures and exercises. It’s for beginners or anyone who wants a refresher. Farther down, you can view a syllabus for this course.

Creative nonfiction encompasses prose pieces that spring from the real world, which are told with the finesse and fizz of fiction. The truth is shaped into stories that embrace all styles, from straight to zany to brainy to lyrical, encompassing every topic imaginable from schoolyard memories to a trek in Nepal to the creation of the universe. You’ll see such pieces everywhere: books, magazines, newspapers, websites, blogs, newsletters.

Here you will gain an introduction to six major forms of creative nonfiction— memoir, personal essay, feature articles, profiles, reviews, and travel writing. You’ll learn what they are and how to create them. It’s a sampler platter, with no pressure to work on a specific project or settle on which type of nonfiction you prefer.

If you’re eager to explore the endless possibilities of nonfiction, your guided tour begins here.

About Creative Nonfiction 101
Creative Nonfiction 101

If you’re looking for a challenging and fun overview of nonfiction writing, this is the class for you. Each week covers a different area of nonfiction, which means you get to try lots of different things, and hopefully find the one that speaks to you. I know more now than I did going in, and feel confident signing up for a more in-depth class on a particular area of nonfiction now, thanks to the great structure and teacher.

Piper Goodeve

audiobook narrator

Notes

The 101 courses do not include workshopping of student projects, but students write and receive feedback on writing exercises and assignments.

Upcoming Classes

Price

Registration fee $25, paid once per term

6-Week

Syllabus

This course explores the major types of creative nonfiction, and the techniques that go with them. Course components:
     Lectures
     Writing exercises

New York City/Zoom classes
Week 1
Introduction to Creative Nonfiction: What is Creative Nonfiction? The difference between articles and essays. The role of the angle. Imagination in nonfiction writing.

     Focus: Feature articles.

Week 2
Characters in Nonfiction: Transforming flesh-and-blood people into characters in a story. Using angles to define characters. Using character sketches to craft angles.

     Focus: Profiles.

Week 3
Being Subjective: The art of description in nonfiction. When to be subjective. How to be opinionated but fair.

     Focus: Reviews.

Week 4
Sense of Place in Nonfiction: Setting descriptions. Finding and re-creating the mood. Use of observation. The difference between travel articles and travel essays.

     Focus: Travel writing.

Week 5
Personal Narratives: Differences between forms of personal narrative. Structure of essays vs. articles. Use of reflection and point of view.

     Focus: Personal essay.

Week 6
The Life of the Writer: Drawing from your own life for your stories. Making room in your life for storytelling. Persistence and perseverance.

     Focus: Memoir writing.

Note: Content may vary among individual classes.

Online classes 
Week 1
Memoir: An aspect of life. Mining your memory. Telling a real-life story.

Week 2
Personal Essay: Any topic goes. Make it personal and universal. Shape and voice.

Week 3
Feature Articles: Telling a journalistic story. Feature structure. Feature ingredients.

Week 4
Profiles: Selecting someone to write about. Interviewing. Capturing a person on the page.

Week 5
Reviews: Purpose of a review. Facts and opinion. Playing to your audience.

Week 6 
Travel Writing: Travel Articles. Travel Memoir. What’s next on your nonfiction journey?

Note: Content may vary among individual classes.

Teachers

Blaise Allysen Kearsley
Blaise Allysen Kearsley

Blaise Allysen Kearsley is the creator, producer, and host of the How I Learned storytelling series, and has performed stories for The MOTH, Risk!, The Soundtrack Series, and Literary Death Match. She is a contributing editor to the Vestal Review, and her photography and essays have appeared in Longreads, the Boston Globe, Electric Literature's the Nervous Breakdown, Elle, New York, Gothamist, VICE, Gawker, Playbill, Midnight Breakfast, and The Weeklings. She has contributed to the anthologies Mortified: Real Words. Real People. Real Pathetic. (Simon Spotlight Entertainment) and Cringe: Teenage Diaries, Journals, Notes, Letters, Poems, And Abandoned Rock Operas (Crown Archetype). She holds a BA from Bennington College.

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Patty Lamberti
Patty Lamberti

Patty Lamberti is the director of multimedia journalism and a professional-in-residence at Loyola University Chicago’s School of Communication. She has served as an editor with Playboy, Latina, and Lifetime online, and is an editorial consultant for LawChamps, an online legal platform. Her nonfiction has appeared in Maxim, New York Metro, the New York Post, the Chicago Tribune, and Satisfaction. She has taught at the University of Illinois. She holds a BA from the University of Wisconsin and an MA in Writing from the University of Illinois.

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Rachel Simon
Rachel Simon

Rachel Simon is the author of the narrative nonfiction book Pickleball for All: Everything But the "Kitchen" Sink (Harper Collins/Dey Street Books, forthcoming). Her essays, features, and opinion have appeared in in the New York Times, magazine, Shondaland, InStyle, Glamour, Vulture, Refinery29, and NBC News. She has constructed crossword puzzles for the New York Times and New York magazine's Vulture. Previously she's been the deputy editor of HelloGiggles, entertainment-news editor for Bustle, and wellbeing editor for Mic. She holds a BA from Emerson College.

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