Embrace the Unknown: Speculation and Invention in Creative Nonfiction

Wednesday, November 30th, 2022 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm Eastern

Level All Levels

Every true story contains gaps. By imagining our way into these gaps, we can transform our material and our writing experience.



Additional Information

This presentation invites you to explore the power of what might have been. You’ll learn more than a dozen reasons for speculating and inventing in creative nonfiction and discover how these techniques can lead you to deeper truths. You’ll take inspiration from authors such as James Baldwin, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Joshua Wheeler. You’ll consider why their suppositions compel readers and examine where and how these writers pivot between the known and unknown. You’ll consider several ways of signaling imagined content while integrating it seamlessly.

This webinar will help you plumb the unrealized possibilities of your essay or memoir. You’ll be guided to root out gaps in your narrative. And you’ll leave with prompts for generating new, surprising material for your work-in-progress—or for starting something new from the stance of “what if?” In this webinar about questioning what we think we know, there will be plenty of time for questions about what we’ve learned and tried.

By the end of the session, you will:

  • LEARN more than a dozen ways speculation or invention can enhance your creative nonfiction.
  • TAKE INSPIRATION AND COURAGE from audacious examples of speculation in other writers’ works.
  • IDENTIFY gaps in your work-in-progress that you could imagine your way through to reach new revelations.
  • EXPERIMENT with at least one technique for generating speculative content in your work.

This webinar is ideal for creative nonfiction writers interested in new techniques for adding depth to their work.

Readings that will be discussed (excerpts will be provided during the presentation) are:

  • “Notes of a Native Son,” essay by James Baldwin, from his essay collection, Notes of a Native Son
  • “No Name Woman,” Chapter 1 of Maxine Hong Kingston’s memoir, The Woman Warrior
  • “The Troubling of Hummingbirds: (A Letter to Billy the Kid),” essay by Joshua Wheeler published in The Southern Review

All registrants receive a recording.

Closed captioning will be available.

Course Presenter

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Please Note

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].

Hear from our Students

Creative Nonfiction’s online writing classes have helped more than 3,000 writers tell their stories better.

Read Success Stories


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