April 11 - June 19, 2022
Whether you write about environmental issues, health and medical topics, tech, or other science-related topics, this workshop will help you take your work to the next level. We will take a deep dive into the structure and narrative arcs of writing excellent science essays and address ethics, revision, and marketing your work in this class intended for students with experience writing short or long-form narrative nonfiction.
Short news stories and blog posts for major journals are a great way to build your platform and demonstrate to future editors that you can engage readers. In week one we will practice the art of distillation and write a teaser piece for a full-length essay.
Writing about science invariably means searching for and talking to scientists. This week we will talk about the tools and craft of interviewing subjects and will look at different options for finding information about current or historic research.
This week we dive into what makes full-length narrative and research driven essays about science sing. We will discuss the reach and impact of this kind of work, and the range of journals, websites, and publishers who are are interested in featuring it. You will share your working idea for input and encouragement, or brainstorm with peers on a new idea for the essay you will write over the rest of the workshop.
In scientific research, the narrative “arc” can be obscured by inconclusive results, long-term studies, or uncontrollable variables. We will discuss how structural and organizing principles can turn a pile of research and interview notes into a satisfying and informative story. This week you will develop an outline for your longform essay and will have the chance to get instructor and peer feedback.
Often when writing about the research or discoveries of others, you will have to navigate between knowing and speculating about what happened. But when does reconstructing a scene become fictionalizing a scene? This week we will discuss ethical approaches to conjecture and how to keep work factual and engaging.
How much quantum physics is too much for non-experts? How can you explain plate tectonics or trophic cascades so that readers are hooked on the science, rather than overwhelmed? This week’s readings will offer different models of exposition styles, and peer review will give you a chance to check in with readers.
The best science writing balances action and exposition artfully. We will work this week on techniques for organizing your writing so that action moves the story forward while backstory and explanation raise the stakes for readers. This week you will submit a draft of your essay of up to 3,000 words for instructor and peer feedback.
Revision, both structural and at the sentence level, can turn a good piece of writing into a great one. This week you will learn several strategies for revision and practice them on writing submitted earlier in the workshop.
The next step is finding your readers. We will look at a variety of outlets–online and print–that publish science- and research-driven writing. We will talk about how to craft strong pitches and query letters and practice both.
Once your essay is accepted for publication, the next step is often fact-checking and editor-requested revisions. For our final week of class, we will share experiences with pre-publication requests, talk through how to streamline the fact-checking process, and brainstorm ways to promote your work on social media once it is published.
Out of stock
It is not uncommon for classes to fill up before the end of early registration, particularly in the last few days before the deadline. 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].
Creative Nonfiction’s online writing classes have helped more than 3,000 writers tell their stories better.
I enjoyed reading other peoples work and getting feedback about my own work– the handouts/video links and class lessons were also very informative and relevantly paced to the give structural guidelines.Catherine O’Neill
I enjoyed reading other peoples work and getting feedback about my own work– the handouts/video links and class lessons were also very informative and relevantly paced to the give structural guidelines.
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.
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.
Classes are small—limited to 14 students per section—which means you’ll receive individual attention and feedback on your work.
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.
Creative Nonfiction is committed to creating a welcoming and comfortable experience for all staff and participants regardless of gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disabilities, neurodiversity, physical appearance, ethnicity, nationality, race, age, or religion.
We expect that staff and participants will treat each other with respect in all interactions. We will not tolerate discrimination or harrassment in conjunction with any of our programs. Harassment could include but is not limited to:
Community posts violating any of these guidelines can and will be removed from the page at any time. Anyone asked to stop harassing behavior is expected to comply immediately.
Harassment does not include respectful disagreement or critique in good faith. Reading and writing, by their nature, include exposure to controversial, challenging, and sometimes offensive language. We encourage all participants to follow the peer review guidelines provided by their instructor.
Online communication happens without the benefit of body language and tone. Therefore, it can be easy to misinterpret. The following tips may help participants engage in civil, intelligent, vigorous discourse without impugning the personal dignity of others:
See your course for additional feedback guidelines provided by your instructor.
All course work is saved in Wet.Ink. When the course closes, you can find the archive by logging in to your account, and choosing “Past Classes.” Archives include course content (lectures, readings, writing prompts, etc.), your posts and writing submissions, and any feedback given on your writing. The course archive will not include your classmates’ writing submissions.
FUNDAMENTALS—open to all levels.Our fundamentals courses are designed for those who are new to writing or new to creative nonfiction, as well as those who could benefit from a back-to-basics review on how to effectively and intentionally use elements of the writer’s craft.
INTERMEDIATE—prerequisites suggested. Our intermediate courses are designed for writers who have some experience either in the genre or CNF’s courses. Past course participation is not required, but we do recommend starting with one of our fundamentals courses, especially Foundations of Creative Nonfiction.
ADVANCED—prerequisites for enrollment. Our advanced courses are for writers who have completed two previous online courses (not including self-guided courses) with Creative Nonfiction (one must be an intermediate level course).
Replays include ongoing access to the recording and downloadable supplemental materials.
Every true story contains gaps. By imagining our way into these gaps, we can transform our material and our writing experience.
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