Frequently Asked Questions

Questions? Start Here.

  • What do you mean by “self-guided”?

    Self-guided classes differ from our other online courses in significant ways. There are no due dates, no cap on enrollment, and no instructor feedback will be provided. However, you can post questions for your peers and give and receive feedback on writing posted in the classroom.

  • What makes CNF’s online courses different from other online programs?

    Flexibility
    Some online programs work on a “synchronous” model, which requires you to be online at an assigned time each week. The asynchronous model used in our classes means that you do not have to be online at any particular time of day, and can approach the class assignments at your own pace throughout the week based on your schedule. While some optional events, such as class video conferences, do take place at a specific time, the majority of class activities can be completed according to your schedule.

    Intimate Classes
    Classes are small—limited to 14 students per section—which means you’ll receive individual attention and feedback on your work.

    Experienced Instructors
    Good writing instructors not only need to be skilled writers, but also need to have experience in teaching what they know to others. That’s why all of our instructors are professional writers with extensive teaching experience.

    Substantial and Meaningful Writing Assignments
    Many online writing programs ask you to complete short writing exercises each week, and only near the end of the class are you invited to write a single essay or chapter. At Creative Nonfiction, we recognize the value of exercises, but also believe that completing an essay or chapter is the best way for developing writers to really explore how all the elements of creative nonfiction work together. Writing complete pieces also leaves you with a sense of accomplishment and with work that you can share when the class is completed. For this reason, in our classes you are invited to submit longer essays multiple times during a course. See course syllabus for more information.

    Sense of Connection
    We realize that it is difficult to find one’s writing community—which is why we now offer every new student membership to a Community Page where you can meet with other CNF students, during and after class.

  • How do I find my self-guided class materials?

    After you register for a self-guided course, we manually process your information and invite you to join an online classroom where you will find the course materials. The course invite will come to your email account (please check your spam/junk folder).

    Please note: if you register before the start date, you’ll receive an invite to join your class the Friday before class begins. If you register after class begins, we’ll send you a course invite within 72 hours, and you will then have access to the previous weeks’ materials.

  • Will I lose access to the writing prompts and materials after the end of the self-guided class?

    The classroom will close a week after its end date, but if you register and accept the invite before the class ends, you will receive the course archive as a zip file at that time. That means, all lessons: lectures, readings, and assignments will be downloadable when you are ready to work through the course on your own. 

    If you participate while the classroom is open, you’ll be able to work with other writers enrolled in the class.

  • What day and time is my online course?

    Our courses run asynchronously; meaning, you will NOT need to be online at any particular time. Assignments for CNF classes are given on a weekly basis; you should submit each assignment by a given deadline, but in most classes you will have at least an entire week to complete the assignment. We realize that our students live in many different areas and have different work schedules, so classes are designed to be flexible. Courses feature one live conference session, which does require that you be online at a particular time; however, participation in this session is completely optional, and instructors make an effort to offer times that can accommodate most students. This is scheduled by the instructor after class begins.If you are not able to participate in the live conference you will still be able to view a recording of it during the remaining weeks of the class. Please note that there are no video conferences in boot camp courses.

  • I have an existing print subscription; how do I access the digital archive?

    If you have an existing active print subscription to Creative Nonfiction (or True Story) magazine, there is a unique profile already waiting for you, but you will need to reset your password before you can access the complete archive.

    Here’s how to rest your password:


    INSTRUCTIONS
    1. Click here.
    2. Enter the email address connected to your subscription (Having trouble? Email us).
    3. Click “RESET PASSWORD.”
    4. Follow the instructions provided in the “Password Reset Request” email (you may have to check your spam folder if the email does not show up in your inbox).
    5. Once you’ve successfully reset your password, go to My Account.
    6. Login using your email and newly created password.
    7. Check “Remember Me” and click “Log in.”

    That’s it.

    We encourage you to explore the new website, and especially the archive. [Please note that we’re still working on some formatting updates, particularly with the older issues of the magazine.] 

    Please let us know if you run into any problems; you can contact us here. This is a new system, and we’re here to help. 

  • How much do you pay for a published essay?

    For essays published in Creative Nonfiction magazine, we typically pay a $125 flat fee + $10/printed page, plus a copy of the magazine. For essays published in an In Fact Books anthology, we typically pay a flat fee between $100 and $150.

  • My essay is over your word limit. Will you still consider it for publication?

    We’re very sorry, but we have to draw the line somewhere.

  • Do you always charge a reading fee?

    Like many other magazines, we charge a $3 convenience fee to submit essays online through Submittable. In the case of contests, reading fees generally offset the costs associated with those issues, as well as (in most cases) the prize money; or, for a small additional cost, you can become a subscriber, which also helps keep the lights on at CNF. Our subscribers never pay a reading fee!

  • Will you consider excerpts from longer pieces?

    We are happy to read excerpts from longer pieces, though in our experience it rarely works to pull 4,000 words from a longer piece and call it an essay. Rather, we suggest you consider adapting part of your longer piece so that it can truly stand alone.

  • Does something posted on a blog count as previously published?

    If your blog is shared with the public, we do consider those writings to have been published. If you significantly re-write or expand a piece that is posted on your blog, though, we will happily consider it for any of our calls for submissions.

  • Can I change the names or distinguishing characteristics of the people in my story to protect their privacy?

    We generally prefer that you not do this, and would argue that, in most cases, there are better ways to approach this type of challenge. That said, in some cases—for example, if you’re a doctor writing about your work with patients—sometimes masking identities may be appropriate. Regardless, we’re big fans of transparency, and if you’ve taken this type of liberty, we greatly appreciate a note in the cover letter or a footnote in the manuscript itself.

  • Will you give feedback on the essay I submitted?

    Unfortunately, due to the high volume of submissions we receive (in the neighborhood of 100+ essays per month), we can’t send detailed feedback or responses. If you are interested in having a professional editor review your manuscript, we encourage you to check out CNF’s manuscript review program and online courses.

  • Can I submit an essay I wrote in one of CNF’s online courses or in the manuscript review program?

    No, you may not. But we wish you the best of luck placing such work elsewhere, and hope you’ll keep in touch with your teacher or writing coach and share your successes!

  • What are CNF’s copyright requirements?

    CNF typically considers only unpublished work and seeks first publication rights. After publication, CNF typically retains certain reprint rights, and some other rights revert to the author. We find that when people ask this question, they usually mean, “I’m submitting a chapter from a book I’m writing, and I need to have the rights to it.” Please know that we absolutely do not retain any rights that would interfere with your ability to publish your work in your own book.

  • Can I make changes to my essay after I submit it?

    The work you submit for consideration should be the best possible version of your essay. We understand that mistakes happen, however, so in the event that you submitted the wrong file, we do allow editing of submitted essays within a limited set of parameters–usually within two weeks of the original submission date or up until a contest deadline. After the essay has been assigned to a reader, changing files can cause a lot of confusion and may result in our not giving your work our best attention.

  • I found a typo in my submission. What should I do?

    While we advise you to proofread your work carefully before submitting, rest assured that a small typo will not influence the overall evaluation of your submission. In the event that we accept your essay for publication, it will go through a careful editorial process, and you will have plenty of opportunities to review it carefully.

  • Why do you charge reading fees?

    1. We publish between 70-100 writers every year, and we pay every single one of those writers; reading fees help offset that expense.
    2. We like to pay writers more when we can, so we often run essay contests (with prizes ranging from $1,000-$10,000 per winning piece); reading fees help us offset that expense.
    3. Submitting work online is incredibly convenient for writers, but in some cases, it can be too convenient. Charging a nominal fee helps eliminate spam submitters–and it helps offset the administrative expenses of processing submissions.
  • How can I avoid paying the reading fee?

    1. Participate in our ongoing micro-essay experiment on Twitter! We publish up to 22 “Tiny Truths” in every issue … and we pay these writers with copies of the magazine.
    2. Become a subscriber.
  • How does becoming a subscription eliminate the cost of a reading fee?

    No active subscriber will ever have to pay a reading fee of any type. Ever.

    Subscribers can submit as many times, to as many calls for submissions as they like, as long as their subscription is current. This is our way of supporting the readers who are supporting us.

  • How can I become a subscriber (or renew a lapsed subscription)?

    1. Submit your work. Many of our calls for submissions offer a submit-and-subscribe option—the price of which is about 25% less than the cost of the regular subscription.*
    2. Join our email list. Joining our list is another way to stay up-to-date for all of our current calls and news. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll be offered a chance to subscribe for $10 less than the regular price.**
    3. Subscribe. You can always purchase a subscription at the regular price at any time from anywhere.
  • How much do education programs cost?

    Our online courses are priced according to how many weeks they run. 5-week courses cost 310.00 and 10-week courses cost 485.00. Early registration provides a 50.00 discount. Our self-guided courses are 29.99 (no early registration discount) and our webinars range from free to 25.00.

  • When do you offer courses? How long are they?

    Our terms include 5- and 10-week courses and run in fall (September-December), winter (January-March), and spring (April-June). In summer (June-July), we offer only 5-week courses.

  • What is the Community Page?

    Communities are forums in Wet.Ink where members can connect and interact around writing. Every online CNF student is a member of the general “Creative Nonfiction Community,” and each course includes an opportunity to join a private community with your classmates for when class is over.

  • The course I’m interested in is sold out. Is there anything I can do?

    Sometimes spaces open up as people’s schedules change. If you’d like to be added to a waitlist for a sold-out class, please contact us here.

  • I haven’t received the most recent issue; how can I get a replacement copy?

    Please email us at [email protected], and we will be in touch with an update as soon as possible.

  • How soon can I expect my first issue?

    We typically mail the first issue of your subscription within a week of receiving your order.

  • Do you accept simultaneous submissions?

    Absolutely. We understand that response times are long, and writers want to increase their chances. We ask only that you be sure to withdraw your submission in the event that it’s accepted elsewhere.

  • Will there be closed-captioning or a transcript of the webinar?

    We will provide closed-captioning upon request. Please contact us at least a week prior to the webinar to allow time for scheduling with a captioner.

  • Will I need to install any software?

    The webinar link will prompt you to download the GoTo Opener. For troubleshooting questions, please refer to GoTo Webinar’s support page: https://support.goto.com/webinar

  • What video conferencing program does CNF use for their webinars?

    We use GoTo Meeting. After you register for the webinar, you will receive an email with a link to the class.

  • Is there a preferred browser for viewing the webinar?

    Yes: Chrome tends to work best with the GoTo Webinar software.

  • I’d like to attend a webinar but have a conflict. Will the program be offered at another time?

    Our webinars are usually presented on Wednesday at 2:00 pm Eastern time. We rarely repeat webinars, but we do send out a recording of the program to everyone who registers, and you may watch the program at your conviencence.

  • How do I get a copy of the presenter’s slides?

    If the presenter grants permission to make their slides available, these will be included in the email sent to participants after the webinar is completed.

  • How can I get help with any technical difficulties during a webinar?

    You can call LogMeIn’s GoTo’s techincal support number at 1-833-851-8340 or 1-805-617-7080. Have the Webinar ID number handy, which you’ll find in the registration email.

  • Are the webinars interactive?

    GoTo Webinars have limited interactive capabilities. Participants may submit questions via the GoTo meeting panel during the webinar, and the moderator will pose questions as time permits at the end of the presentation.

  • Are recordings of the webinars available?

    Everyone who registers for a webinar receives a recording following the program. We do not sell recordings of prior programming.

  • What is your refund policy for the Yearlong tracks?

    We understand that life can get in the way of your plans. We want you to be able to get the most out of your course, and our refund policy is designed to balance your need for flexibility with our deadlines and obligations to our teachers.

    By 5 pm on the Monday before Winter term begins:

    You may request to be removed from the yearlong track program for a refund less a $95 processing fee.

    If you transfer to another course, you will be removed from the yearlong track program and refunded the remaining balance less a $50 processing fee.

    By 5 pm on the Monday before Spring term begins:

    You may request to be removed from the yearlong track program for a refund less the cost of the winter course and a $95 processing fee.

    If you transfer to another course, you will be removed from the yearlong track program and refunded your remaining balance less a $50 processing fee.

    By 5 pm on the Monday before Fall term begins:

    You may request a transfer credit less a $50 processing fee.

    There are no refunds available at this time.

  • What are the course dates?

    Terms for 2021

    Winter: Jan 11 – Mar 21

    Spring: Apr 12 – Jun 20

    Summer: Jul 12 – Aug 15

    Fall: Sep 13 – Nov 21

  • I’ve registered for the yearlong track. Now what?

    Enrolling in a Pathway means you are automatically enrolled for specific Winter, Spring, and Fall term courses.

    Two days before each term begins: You will receive an invitation with instructions on how to log into your course in Wet Ink, our online platform. At this time, you can become familiar with the classroom, read your instructor’s announcements, set your avatar, and meet with others on the Community Page. On the first day of class, you’ll receive a welcome announcement from your instructor and access to week one’s materials.

    In early May, we will email you a unique code so you can enroll in the Summer term course of your choice. Unlike the Winter, Spring, and Fall terms, you will need to enroll in your summer class through the Creative Nonfiction website. You will receive an invitation to your course two days before it begins.

    After each course closes: You will receive a zip file of your content from the class. You’ll also continue to be a member of our Creative Nonfiction Writing Classes’ Community Page. With this membership, you will be able to share writings and calls for submissions, recommend books, and stay connected to other writers. You can decide how frequently you want to receive notifications by changing the settings in your Wet Ink profile.

  • I’ve already taken one of the courses in the Pathway. Can I subsitute a course and remain on the yearlong track?

    Depending on when you took the course, we may be able to swap the course you’ve already completed for another 10-week course at the same level. If you’d like to explore this option, please email [email protected]

  • Can I set up a payment plan?

    Indeed! If you need to set up a payment plan, please reach out to us by emailing [email protected] We have two payment plan options:

    $505 down payment, followed by eight weekly payments of $105 (total cost $1345)

    $505 down payment, followed by eleven weekly payments of $80 (total cost $1385)

  • What kind of feedback can I expect from my instructor?

    For each long assignment, you will receive detailed feedback from your instructor—big-picture comments about how the writing is working as a whole as well as in-line comments addressing tone, dialogue, word choice, etc. In addition to longer assignments, some instructors assign shorter weekly exercises for which they provide a brief response. Finally, students are always welcome to private message the instructor at any point during the course with additional questions.

  • I’m only interested in getting the instructor’s feedback on my work—why do I have to participate in the online discussions or the peer critiques?

    To create a better, more dynamic classroom experience for all, you are required to participate weekly in class discussions in order to receive instructor feedback on your work. If you are primarily interested in working one-on-one with a professional writer, please consider our manuscript review program.

  • I’m going to be away for part of the time that the class is in session—does this mean I shouldn’t take the course?

    If you will miss only one or two weeks of a ten-week class, this does not pose a problem; you can reach out to your instructor to submit the assignments ahead of time (or, if you choose, skip them). You should let your instructor know at the beginning of the class which weeks you will miss. If you think you will have to miss more than two weeks, it is probably best to wait for another term.

  • How much interaction can I expect to have with my instructor and with other students in the class?

    In our courses you can expect to:

    * receive personalized feedback on work from your instructor

    * comment on your peers’ writing and receive peer critiques in kind

    * discuss ideas with your instructor and peers

    * exchange writing, ideas, and book recommendations with other writers in our Community Page during and after classes are over

  • How many students are in each course?

    Our sections have a maximum of 14 students and a minimum of 6. Courses often fill up before registration ends; registering early ensures that you receive a space in the course of your choice.

  • How many hours per week will the coursework take?

    This depends largely on your own interests and dedication to the course. We ask that all students read the lecture and assigned readings and post at least once per week in the class discussion; this should take about 2 hours per week. Other commitments include submitting peer critiques and participating in (or watching) video conferences. Finally, most students wish to submit all major writing assignments for the class in order to receive instructor feedback, and here the time commitment is highly variable. Some students write only on the weekends, while others write or revise for some time each day to produce these works. Still others join the course with essays already written. Your writing time is a large part of the time commitment, and it is up to you to determine how much writing time you will need in order to produce pieces for critique.

  • Do I need to be online during a particular time or day in order to participate in a course? Does it matter what time zone I’m in?

    You will NOT need to be online at any particular time. Assignments for CNF courses are given on a weekly basis. You should submit each assignment by a given deadline, but in most courses you will have at least a week to complete the assignment. We realize that our students live in many different areas and have different work schedules, so courses are designed to be flexible. Courses feature one live conference session, which requires you to be online at a particular time; participation in this session is completely optional, however, and instructors make an effort to offer times that can accommodate most students. If you are not able to participate in the live conference, you will still be able to view a recording of it during the remaining weeks of the class. Please note that there are no video conferences in boot camp courses.

  • Do I need any particular software or video capabilities to be able to take an online course with CNF? Does it matter if I have a Mac or a PC?

    The only specific software/hardware requirement is a webcam for the optional video conference (does not apply to boot camps). If you do not have a webcam, you can join the meeting by phone. Aside from that, CNF courses use a web-based platform that does not require any software other than a web browser (ideally, Google Chrome). The course platform is compatible with both Mac and Windows systems and can also be accessed from a smartphone or tablet. All class materials will be posted on the class website or will be found on web pages that are linked to the class website.

    We recommend using a word processing program (e.g. Microsoft Word or Google Docs) to compose your writing; if you do not have a word processing program currently installed on your computer, you can download one here for free.

  • Do I need any particular computer skills to participate in the course?

    The program used for CNF courses is designed to be easy to use. If you can write and send emails with attachments and are generally comfortable online, you should have no problems. We’ll send you login info for your course two days before your class starts, so that you can familiarize yourself with the system.

  • Can the work I write in a CNF course be published in Creative Nonfiction or True Story?

    Creative work that is reviewed and/or commented upon by your instructor cannot be submitted to Creative Nonfiction or True Story without substantial revision. Specifically, our editors will not consider a submission for publication if more than 25 percent of the work has been read by Creative Nonfiction’s online instructors. You are welcome to submit work to the magazines that meets the above conditions, but you will not be given preference over authors from the general submission pool.

  • Can I submit work I have already written for instructor feedback?

    Yes. We ask only that you stick to the word limit for each assignment. Additionally, please try to make sure that the writing you submit for feedback fits the course; for example, an Experimental Forms course might not be the best place to submit the first chapter of your traditional book-length memoir.

  • What makes CNF’s classes different from other online programs?

    Flexibility

    Some online programs work on a “synchronous” model, which requires you to be online at an assigned time each week. The asynchronous model used in our classes means that you do not have to be online at any particular time of day, and can approach the class assignments at your own pace based on your schedule. While some optional events—such as class video conferences—do take place at a specific time, the majority of class activities can be completed according to your schedule.

    Intimate Classes

    Classes are small—limited to 14 students per section—which means you’ll receive individual attention and feedback on your work.

    Experienced Instructors

    Good writing instructors not only need to be skilled writers, but also need to have experience in teaching what they know to others. That’s why all of our instructors are professional writers with extensive teaching experience.

    Substantial and Meaningful Writing Assignments

    Many online writing programs ask you to complete short writing exercises each week, and only near the end of the class are you invited to write a single essay or chapter. At Creative Nonfiction, we recognize the value of exercises, but also believe that completing an essay or chapter is the best way for developing writers to really explore how all the elements of creative nonfiction work together. Writing complete pieces also leaves you with a sense of accomplishment and with work you can share when the class is completed. For this reason, in our classes you are invited to submit longer pieces multiple times during a course. See course syllabus for more information.

    Sense of Connection

    We realize that it is difficult to find one’s writing community—which is why we now offer every new student membership to a Community Page where you can meet with other CNF students, during and after class.

  • What is your refund policy?

    We understand that life can get in the way of your plans. We want you to be able to get the most out of your course, and our refund policy is designed to balance your need for flexibility with our deadlines and obligations to our teachers.

    By 5pm EST on the Monday before courses begin (one week prior to start date):

    You may request a refund (less a $50 application fee) or request a transfer to another course in the same term or future term (no fee). Transfer credits must be applied within two years of your cancellation date.

    By 5pm EST on the Friday at the end of the first week of classes:

    You may transfer your enrollment credit to a future course (less a $95 processing fee for 10-week courses or a $75 processing fee for 5-week courses). Transfer credits must be applied within two years of your cancellation date. You may switch to another course in the same term (subject to availability) for a $25 fee.

    No refunds or transfers will be offered after 5 pm on Friday of the first week of classes.

  • I’ve enrolled in a class. What happens now?

    Two days before your course begins, you’ll receive an invitation with instructions on how to log into Wet Ink, our online platform. At this time, you can become familiar with the classroom, read your instructor’s announcements, set your avatar, and meet with others in the Community Page. On the first day of class, you’ll receive a welcome announcement and access to Week One’s materials.

    Below is the structure of a typical online class. Please note that some classes (such as CNF Boot Camp and self-guided courses) follow a different format. More details are available in individual class descriptions.

    Each week provides:

    *written lectures and a selection of readings


    *discussions of assigned readings and other general writing topics with peers and the instructor

    Some weeks also include:

    * writing prompts and/or exercises

    * opportunities to submit full-length essays for instructor and/or peer critiques

    * optional video conferences during Week 2

    Aside from the live conference, there is no need to be online at any particular time of day. To create a better classroom experience for all, you are required to participate weekly to receive instructor feedback on your work.

    After your course closes, you will receive a zip file of your content from this class as well as the lesson materials. You’ll also continue to be a member of our Creative Nonfiction Writing Classes’ Community Page. With this membership, you will be able to share writings and calls for submissions, recommend books, and, generally, stay connected. You can decide how frequently you want to receive notifications by changing the settings in your Wet Ink profile.

  • I’m pretty busy; will a CNF course work for me?

    Creative Nonfiction’s online courses are designed to accommodate people with busy schedules and other commitments. Many students have full-time jobs or family responsibilities, while others have more free time to devote to their writing. The flexible class schedule means that you can participate in the way that best fits your schedule.

  • How do I find my online classroom?

    To learn more about what happens after you enroll in a course, see our page on how the courses work.

  • Do you offer any scholarships?

    Unfortunately, we do not offer scholarships at this time.

  • Do you offer any discounts?

    We currently offer two discounts, which may be combined: a $50 early registration discount and a $25 “refer-a-friend” discount.

    Refer-A-Friend Discount:

    You and your friend do not have to enroll in the same course, but you must enroll in the same term. To receive the discount, each student must enter their friend’s name in the “Order Comments” section of the checkout page when registering. Once both friends have registered, each student will receive a $25 refund. If you have any questions, email [email protected]

  • I am new to writing; where should I start?

    We highly encourage you to start with one of our Fundamental-level courses.

  • Do I need to have work already written in order to take any of the courses?

    Except for Advanced courses, you do not have to bring prior writing to the course; however, you can certainly submit prior writing as long as it fits the assignment criteria.

  • Do I need to be online during a particular time or day in order to participate in a class?

    You will NOT need to be online at any particular time. Assignments for CNF classes are given on a weekly basis; you should submit each assignment by a given deadline, but in most classes you will have at least an entire week to complete the assignment. We realize that our students live in many different areas and have different work schedules, so classes are designed to be flexible. Courses feature one live conference session, which does require that you be online at a particular time; however, participation in this session is completely optional, and instructors make an effort to offer times that can accommodate most students. This is scheduled by the instructor after class begins.If you are not able to participate in the live conference you will still be able to view a recording of it during the remaining weeks of the class. Please note that there are no video conferences in boot camp courses.

  • How many students are in each class?

    Our classes have a maximum of 14 students and a minimum of 6. Class sections often fill up before registration ends; registering early ensures that you receive a space in the class of your choice. If you know for certain that you wish to take a particular class, we recommend registering early. If you’d like to be added to a waitlist for a sold-out class, please email our Director of Education, Sharla Yates, at [email protected].

  • How do the online courses work?

    Creative Nonfiction’s online classes are designed to accommodate people with busy schedules and other commitments. Many students have full-time jobs or child- or parentcare responsibilities, while others have more free time to devote to their writing. The flexible class schedule means that you can participate in the way that best fits your schedule.

    Our online course terms include 5- and 10-week classes and run in fall (September-December), winter (January-March), and spring (April-June). Summer term offers 5-week classes only (June-July) and a great choice for students, travelers, or those wanting to try something new without the commitment of a longer session.

    Our *self-guided courses run before and after each term (sometimes overlapping in dates).

    Descriptions of our current classes can be found here.
    A list of our previous/upcoming classes can be found here.

    *Self-guided courses and webinars differ from our other online courses in significant ways.


    You’ve enrolled in a class. Now what?

    Two days before your class begins, you’ll receive an invitation with instructions on how to log into Wet Ink, our online class platform. At this time, you can become familiar with the classroom, read your instructor’s announcements, set your avatar, and meet with others in the Community Page. On the first day of class, you’ll receive a welcome announcement and access to Week One’s materials.

    The information below outlines the structure of a typical online class. Please note that some classes (such as CNF Boot Camp and self-guided courses) follow a different format. More details are available in individual class descriptions.

    Each week provides:

    • written lectures and a selection of readings
    • discussions of assigned readings and other general writing topics with peers and the instructor

    Some weeks also include:

    • writing prompts and/or exercises
    • opportunities to submit full-length essays for instructor and/or peer critiques
    • optional video conferences during Week 2.

    Aside from the live conference, there is no need to be online at any particular time of day. To create a better classroom experience for all, you are required to participate weekly to receive instructor feedback on your work.

    After your course closes: you will receive a zip file of your content from this class as well as the lesson materials. You’ll also continue to be a member of our Creative Nonfiction Writing Classes’ Community Page. With this membership, you will be able to share writings and calls for submissions, recommend books, and, generally, stay connected. You can decide how frequently you want to receive notifications by changing the settings in your Wet Ink profile.

  • Why Creative Nonfiction?

    As the voice of the genre, Creative Nonfiction has been offering online courses on the craft of creative nonfiction since 2011. With our focus solely on the genre of narrative nonfiction, each of our courses offers quality instruction, personalized feedback from a professional writer in the field, and opportunities to network with like-minded writers. To date, we’ve helped nearly 2,500 writers tell their true stories, better—and more than 50% of our students return to take more classes. 

    At Creative Nonfiction, we believe that…

    • Your story is important, whether you’re an experienced writer or just starting out;
    • Writing is a craft, and, like all crafts, can be taught and learned; and
    • All writers benefit from feedback and asense of connection.

  • Yearlong Track FAQs

    I've registered for the yearlong track. Now what?

    You are now enrolled for Winter, Spring, and Fall term classes.

    Two days before the term begins: You will receive an invitation with instructions on how to log into your course in Wet Ink, our online class platform. At this time, you can become familiar with the classroom, read your instructor’s announcements, set your avatar, and meet with others on the Community Page. On the first day of class, you’ll receive a welcome announcement from your instructor and access to week one’s materials.

    Early May: We will email you a unique code so you can enroll in the Summer term course of your choice. Unlike the Winter, Spring, and Fall terms, you will need to enroll in your summer class through the Creative Nonfiction website. You will receive an invitation to your course two days before it begins.

    After each course closes: You will receive a zip file of your content from the class. You’ll also continue to be a member of our Creative Nonfiction Writing Classes' Community Page. With this membership, you will be able to share writings and calls for submissions, recommend books, and stay connected to other writers. You can decide how frequently you want to receive notifications by changing the settings in your Wet Ink profile.

    What are the course dates?

    Terms for 2021

    Winter: Jan 11 – Mar 21
    Spring: Apr 12 – Jun 20
    Summer: Jul 12 – Aug 15
    Fall: Sep 13 – Nov 21

    How many students are in each class?

    Our classes have a maximum of 14 students and a minimum of 6. You may see a few familiar faces in your courses, such as others in the yearlong track program, but you will also have the opportunity to meet and work with new students each term. 

    I've already taken one of these courses — can I subsitute a course and remain on the yearlong track?

    Depending on when you took the course, we may be able to swap the course you've already completed for another as long as they are the same length (10 weeks) and level. If you'd like to explore this option, please email [email protected]

    Do I need to be online during a particular time or day in order to participate in a class? Does it matter what time zone I'm in?

    You will NOT need to be online at any particular time. Assignments for CNF classes are given on a weekly basis; you should submit each assignment by a given deadline, but in most classes you will have at least an entire week to complete the assignment. We realize that our students live in many different areas and have different work schedules, so classes are designed to be flexible. Winter, Spring, and Fall courses feature one live conference session that does require you to be online at a particular time; however, participation in these sessions is completely optional, and instructors make an effort to offer times that can accommodate most students. If you are not able to participate in the live conference, you will still be able to view a recording of it during the remaining weeks of the class. Please note that there are no video conferences during Summer term.

    How many hours per week will the class take?

    This depends largely on your own interests and devotion to the class. We ask that all students read the lecture and assigned readings, and post at least once per week in the class discussion; this should take about two hours per week. Other, less regular commitments include submitting peer critiques and participating in (or watching) video conferences. Finally, most students wish to submit all major writing assignments for the class in order to receive instructor feedback, and here the time commitment is highly variable. Some students write only on the weekends, while others write or revise for some time each day to produce these works. Still others join the class with essays already written. Your writing time is a large part of the time commitment for the class, and it is up to you to determine how much writing time you will need in order to produce essays or chapters for critique.

    Do I need any particular software or video capabilities to be able to take an online class with CNF? Does it matter if I have a Mac or a PC?

    The only aspect of the class that has a specific software/hardware requirement is the webcam for the optional video conference (during Winter, Spring, and Fall terms). Aside from that, CNF classes are taught using a web-based class program that does not require any software other than a web browser (ideally, Google Chrome). The course platform is compatible with both Mac and Windows systems and can also be accessed from a smartphone or tablet. All class materials will be posted on the class website or will be found on web pages that are linked to the class website.

    We recommend using a word processing program of some sort to compose your writing; if you do not have any type of word processing program installed on your computer, you can download one here for free.

    Do I need any particular computer skills to participate in the class?

    The program used for CNF classes is designed to be easy to use. If you can write and send emails with attachments and are generally comfortable online, you should have no problems. We’ll send you login info for the class website two days before your class starts so you can familiarize yourself with the system.

    Can I submit work I have already written?

    Yes. We ask only that you stick to the word limit for each assignment. Additionally, please try to make sure the writing you submit for feedback fits the course; for example, our Experimental Forms course might not be the best place to submit the first chapter of your traditional book-length memoir.

    How much interaction can I expect to have with my instructor and with other students in the class?

    In our courses you can expect to:

    • receive personalized feedback on your work from your instructor
    • comment on your peers' writing and receive peer critiques in kind
    • discuss ideas with your instructor and peers
    • exchange writing, ideas, and book recommendations with other writers on our Community Page 

    I’m only interested in getting the instructor’s feedback on my work—do I have to participate in the online discussions or the peer critiques?

    To create a better, more dynamic classroom experience for all, you are required to participate weekly in class discussions in order to receive instructor feedback on your work. If you are primarily interested in working one-on-one with a professional writer, please consider our manuscript review program.

    What kind of feedback can I expect from my instructor?

    For each assignment, you will receive detailed feedback from your instructor—both in-line comments addressing tone, dialogue, word choice, etc., and bigger-picture comments about how the writing is working as a whole. In addition to longer assignments, some instructors assign shorter weekly exercises for which they provide a brief response. Finally, students are always welcome to private message the instructor at any point during the course with additional questions.

    I'm going to be away for part of the time that a class is in session—does this mean I shouldn't take the track?

    If you will only miss one or two weeks of a ten-week class, this does not pose a problem; you can reach out to your instructor to submit the assignments ahead of time (or, if you choose, skip them). You should let your instructor know at the beginning of the class which weeks you will miss. If you think that you will have to miss more than two weeks of class, it is probably best to wait to join.

    Will the work I write in these classes be published in Creative Nonfiction or True Story?

    Creative work that is reviewed and/or commented upon by your instructor cannot be submitted to Creative Nonfiction or True Story without substantial revision. Specifically, our editors will not consider a submission for publication if more than 25 percent of the work has been read by Creative Nonfiction’s online instructors. You are welcome to submit to the magazines work that meets the above conditions, but will not be given preference over authors from the general submission pool. 

    Can I set up a payment plan?

    Indeed! If you need to set up a payment plan, please reach out to us by emailing [email protected] We have two payment plan options:

    • $505 down payment, followed by eight weekly payments of $105 (total cost $1345)
    • $505 down payment, followed by eleven weekly payments of $80 (total cost $1385)
       

    What is your refund policy?

    We understand that life can get in the way of your plans. We want you to be able to get the most out of your course, and our refund policy is designed to balance your need for flexibility with our deadlines and obligations to our teachers.

    By 5 pm on the Monday before Winter term begins

    • You may request to be removed from the yearlong track program for a refund less a $95 processing fee.
    • If you transfer to another course, you will be removed from the yearlong track program and refunded the remaining balance less a $50 processing fee.

    By 5 pm on the Monday before Spring term begins

    • You may request to be removed from the yearlong track program for a refund less the cost of the winter course and a $95 processing fee.
    • If you transfer to another course, you will be removed from the yearlong track program and refunded your remaining balance less a $50 processing fee.

    By 5 pm on the Monday before Fall term begins

    • You may request a transfer credit less a $50 processing fee.
    • There are no refunds available at this time.

    Claim Your Spot >>


    Please follow the links below for more information:

    If your question is not answered in the Frequently Asked Questions, please contact Sharla Yates, Director of Education, at [email protected]

     
  • Manuscript Review FAQ

    Do I need any particular software or video capabilities to participate in a manuscript review program? Does it matter if I have a Mac or a PC?

    The only aspect of the manuscript review that has a specific software/hardware requirement is a webcam for video conferences (optional). Aside from that, we use a web-based program (Wet Ink) that does not require any software other than a web browser (ideally, Google Chrome). Wet Ink is compatible with both Mac and Windows systems and can also be accessed from a smartphone or tablet.

    You will also need a word processing program of some sort on which to compose your writing; if you do not have any type of word processing program currently installed on your computer you can download one here for free.

    What is the typical turnaround time for manuscript reviews?

    Our writing coaches aim to return feedback as quickly as possible, but it should be noted that many are working writers or professors with varying schedules. Most manuscripts can be returned within 2 to 3 weeks; longer manuscripts will sometimes take longer. If you are working under a hard deadline, please let us know when you sign up. Once you have purchased a review, your writing coach will respond to your first post in Wet Ink within 1 week, and you can discuss your turnaround schedule at that time.

    What happens after my writing coach has reviewed my manuscript?

    If you have not scheduled a follow-up video conference with your writing coach, your manuscript review program concludes when your writing coach returns her or his written feedback. If you have purchased a video conference, your program will conclude after the conference has taken place and your mentor has uploaded the video file to Wet Ink. In either case, you will receive an archive file that contains all uploaded text and video files, as well as any written correspondence between you and your writing coach in Wet Ink.

    I purchased a follow-up video conference; when does that take place?

    Once you have received written feedback on your manuscript, your coach will ask you about times when you are available for your conference. You must mutually agree upon a date and time to meet, at which point your coach will send you an invitation to participate in the conference session. We understand that every writer needs a little bit of time to go over the coach's feedback, and that everyone has a busy schedule, but please note that your conference must take place within 2 weeks of receiving your written feedback.

    My essay is still in an early draft stage. Will this program be a good fit?

    Our writing coaches can offer valuable feedback regardless of the state of your manuscript, but generally speaking, your coach will be able to offer better feedback on a manuscript that is further along than on one that is in a very early stage.

    If you haven't yet written your essay, if you are looking for ongoing feedback and craft advice, or if you're struggling to get started, you might prefer our online courses or on-site workshops.

    Can I send poetry / fiction / a mixed-genre piece?

    Maybe! While our writing coaches specialize in creative nonfiction, some are also willing to offer feedback on other genres or forms. If you have a piece that isn't quite creative nonfiction, please contact us before you purchase a manuscript review through our website.

    What is your refund policy?

    We understand that life can get in the way of your plans. We want you to be able to get the most out of your manuscript review, and our refund policy is designed to balance your need for flexibility with our deadlines and obligations to our writing coaches.

    After purchase, you will have an opportunity to communicate with your writing coach any hard deadlines you have, as well any areas of expertise that you hope he or she will bring to your program. If your coach is unable to meet your requests, or if you believe that your coach might not be the best fit for your project, you may request a full refund.

    Once you and your writing coach have established a start date, but before that start date has arrived, you may request a refund (less a $50 processing fee) or request a transfer credit that can be used toward a future manuscript review program (less a $25 processing fee).Transfer credits must be applied within two years of your cancellation date.

    There are no refunds available once your writing coach has started working on your manuscript. If you have questions before signing up, please let us know.

     

     

  • What we mean by “Self-Guided”

    The self-guided course differs from our other online courses in significant ways. There are no due dates, no cap on enrollment, and no instructor feedback will be provided. However, you can post questions for your peers and give and receive feedback on writing posted in the classroom. 

    *Be advised that after the course ends, it will close.

    Discussions & Feedback in the Community

    To understand the expectations and responsibilities of participants, see our Community Standards.

    We want to encourage the formation of a supportive, inclusive, and respectful community of writers. When interacting with your peers, please consider that some may have limited experience with English, online education, and/or creative writing. We’ve included a best practices guide for peer review in the course.

    Registration
    You may enroll in the course at any point until the last week of class. After you sign up, you will receive any and all prompts, lectures, and readings from previous weeks. There is no early registration price. 

    *After the Course Closes
    You will receive a ZIP file containing all of the work you developed during the course. You’ll also continue to be a member of our Creative Nonfiction Writing Classes Community Page. With this membership, you will be able to share writings and calls for submissions, recommend books, and stay connected with other writers. You can decide how frequently you want to receive notifications by changing the settings in your Wet Ink profile.

    Refund and Cancellation Policies
    After 5 pm EST, the second day of class, no refunds or credit transfers can be issued.

    Descriptions of our current Self-Guided courses can be found here.

    Questions? Email the director of education, Sharla Yates, at Yates[at]Creativenonfiction[dot]org

  • Writing Workshops: Refund Policy

     

    Multiple Week Workshops
     

    By 5pm EST one week prior to start date:
    Registrants may request a refund (less a $25 processing fee) or a transfer credit* for a future workshop (no fee).

    After 5pm EST one week prior to start date:
    Registrants may only request a transfer credit* (less a $50 processing fee) for a future workshop.



    Single Day Workshops (priced $45 or less)
     

    By 5pm EST one week prior to start date:
    Registrants may request a refund or transfer credit* (less a $10 processing fee) for a future workshop.

    No refunds will be offered after this deadline.



    Single Day Workshops (priced $46 or more)
     

    By 5pm EST one week prior to start date:
    Registrants may request a refund (less a $20 processing fee) or a transfer credit* for a future workshop (no fee).

    After 5pm EST one week prior to start date:
    Registrants may only request a transfer credit* (less a $20 processing fee) for a future workshop.

    No refunds will be offered for cancellations made on the day of the workshop.


    * All transfer credits must be applied within one year of the cancellation date. To cancel your registration, please email our director of education, Sharla Yates, at [email protected]

  • Manuscript Review FAQs

    Frequently Asked Questions

     

    What happens after I make my payment?
    Within one week a CNF staff member will contact you to find out whether you have any deadlines by which you need your feedback, and to provide instructions for submitting your writing for critique. If you have not heard from us within one week please contact our Director of Education, Sharla Yates, at [email protected]

    Does my manuscript need to be ready to submit when I register?
    No. You can register now, and when we contact you we will schedule a date by which to submit your manuscript, based on your needs.

    Will the critique I receive help me get my piece published in Creative Nonfiction? 
    No. Pieces that are submitted for the Manuscript Review service will not be published by Creative Nonfiction or In Fact Books, as this represents a conflict of interest. However, the service can help you prepare to submit your work elsewhere.

    What if my piece is shorter than 3,500 words, or in between the two word limits? Can I submit more than one piece?
    You can submit up to two pieces if the total word count falls within a given word limit. However, the total length of your critique will remain the same, and will be split between these two pieces. If your pieces total more than 3,500 words but fewer than 5,500 words, you must choose the 5,500 word option. If you do not yet know how long the piece you plan to submit will be but want to reserve a space, choose the 3,500 word option, and we will contact you for additional payment if you end up submitting a longer piece.

    Is there any "wiggle room" in the word limits? My piece is only 5,700 words long.
    In order to ensure that the instructor has time to give everyone detailed and constructive feedback, word limits will be strictly enforced. If your piece is slightly over the word limit please edit it for length, just as you would if you were submitting it for publication. 

    How detailed will my critique be? Is sentence-by-sentence editing included?
    Critiques will be approximately two single-spaced pages (1,000 words) long. Critiques will address issues such as structure, description, narrative arc, use of language, etc. While the instructor may identify specific paragraphs that are working well or need improvement, sentence-by-sentence editing is not a part of your critique.

    Can I send the instructor specific questions that I hope to have answered about my piece?
    Yes. When we contact you with information about how to submit your essay/excerpt we will include information on how you can send specific questions for the instructor to address in your critique.

    Can I contact the instructor with follow-up questions after I read my critique?
    The manuscript critique process is a one-time exchange between the writer and the instructor, so it is not possible to send follow-up questions. We may be able to schedule a follow-up phone/Skype/email conference with the instructor, pending availability, but there would be an additional charge for this service.

    I’m sending a book excerpt; how will the instructor understand how this fits in with the rest of my book?
    We recommend that you send an excerpt that has the potential to function as a stand-alone piece (which the reader does not need any additional information to understand, though the ending may be inconclusive or a “cliffhanger”). This is typically the best choice if you hope to submit your excerpt for publication, for a contest, or for a book proposal. However, if you wish to submit a piece that requires context to be understood you may include a book summary of up to 200 words that explains your book and the excerpt’s place within that larger project.

    I still have questions about this program—whom do I contact?

    If your question is not answered here you can contact our Director of Education, Sharla Yates, at [email protected]

     

    » return to Manuscript Review registration page

  • Why Creative Nonfiction?

    As the voice of the genre, Creative Nonfiction has been offering online courses on the craft of creative nonfiction since 2011. With our focus solely on the genre of narrative nonfiction, each of our courses offers quality instruction, personalized feedback from a professional writer in the field, and opportunities to network with like-minded writers. To date, we’ve helped nearly 2,500 writers tell their true stories, better—and more than 50% of our students return to take more classes. 

    At Creative Nonfiction, we believe that…

    • Your story is important, whether you’re an experienced writer or just starting out;
    • Writing is a craft, and, like all crafts, can be taught and learned; and
    • All writers benefit from feedback and a sense of connection.

    What makes Creative Nonfiction different from other online programs?

    Flexibility
    Some online programs work on a “synchronous” model, which requires you to be online at an assigned time each week. The asynchronous model used in our classes means that you do not have to be online at any particular time of day, and can approach the class assignments at your own pace throughout the week based on your schedule. While some optional events, such as class video conferences, do take place at a specific time, the majority of class activities can be completed according to your schedule.

    Intimate Classes
    Classes are small—limited to 14 students per section—which means you’ll receive individual attention and feedback on your work.

    Experienced Instructors
    Good writing instructors not only need to be skilled writers, but also need to have experience in teaching what they know to others. That’s why all of our instructors are professional writers with extensive teaching experience.

    Substantial and Meaningful Writing Assignments
    Many online writing programs ask you to complete short writing exercises each week, and only near the end of the class are you invited to write a single essay or chapter. At Creative Nonfiction, we recognize the value of exercises, but also believe that completing an essay or chapter is the best way for developing writers to really explore how all the elements of creative nonfiction work together. Writing complete pieces also leaves you with a sense of accomplishment and with work that you can share when the class is completed. For this reason, in our classes you are invited to submit longer essays multiple times during a course. See course syllabus for more information.

    Sense of Connection
    We realize that it is difficult to find one’s writing community—which is why we now offer every new student membership to a Community Page where you can meet with other CNF students, during and after class.

    Please follow the links below for more information:

    If your question is not answered in the Frequently Asked Questions, please contact Sharla Yates, Director of Education, at [email protected]

     


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