Creative Nonfiction 101

Nonfiction Pathways
If you’re not sure what kind of nonfiction to write...
If you know what kind of nonfiction to write...
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

Really effective at bumping up my own knowledge about the genre of Creative Nonfiction.

Andrea Johnston

reading/writing teacher


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

Upcoming Classes

Masks are not required, but we’ll provide masks for those who want them. We are no longer requesting proof of vaccination.

More Covid details
  • You can still enroll in this class.
    Starts Wednesday, July 17
    Zoom, 7pm – 10pm ET
    6-Week Class
  • Starts Tuesday, August 13
    Online, anytime
    6-Week Class


Registration fee $25, paid once per term



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


Michael Dunphy
Michael Dunphy

Michael Dunphy has pubished articles and essays in CNN, USA Today, Forbes, Tablet, American Way, Travel + Leisure, Travel Weekly, Time Out, Virtuoso Life, TravelAge West, and Beer Advocate. He is a contributing editor to Fodor's travel guides, the former managing editor of FlyWashington, Air Chicago, and LAX magazines, and former editor-in-chief of the newspaper The Bridge in Montpelier, Vermont. He holds a BA from the University of Vermont and an MA in Publishing and Writing from Emerson College.

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Stacy Pershall
Stacy Pershall

Stacy Pershall is the author of the memoir Loud in the House of Myself  (W.W. Norton), selected for the Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Program, and her work is included in the anthologies Lost and Found (W.W. Norton) and Spent (Seal Press). She has taught at Writopia, Pratt Manhattan, City College of New York, and the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. She holds a BA from the University of Arkansas and an MFA in Performance Art from the University of Cincinnati.

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