Exploring the “So What” and “Why Now” with Historical Context

Wednesday, October 26th, 2022 @ 2:00 pm - 3:15 pm Eastern

Level Fundamentals

An awareness of historical context can help you enrich your narrative and reach a broader and more diverse audience.



Additional Information

You’ve crafted a great story, but when you workshop or pitch it readers dismiss it as “another terminal illness story” or “another ethnic food story.” You’ve delved into the sensory what and the emotional why of your story. But have you thought about how your story’s historical context makes it unique?

This webinar will explore how writers convey the historical context of their stories from concrete details to the values and priorities appearing within the narrative fabric. We will also learn how, through common historical trends, a given story can relate to other stories whose connection might not be obvious.

At the end of the program, you will receive a series of writing prompts to help you practice widening your historical frame to reveal underlying historical currents and ancillary stories that might not have appeared before. These prompts will also help you consider the historical frame in which you are writing now as a way to answer the “so what” question for agents, editors, and other readers.

In this webinar, you will:

  • LEARN how historical context can provide your story with a broader “so what” and “why now.” Through examples, see how historical perspectives create different textures for stories with similar topics.
  • REFLECT on how stories can intersect with broader historical trends such as industrialization and decolonization, and how these trends relate to the time depicted in the story as well as the time in which you’re writing.
  • GAIN TOOLS for understanding how your story may connect to other stories. At the end of the program, you will receive writing prompts that have you stretch both back and laterally to touch people and places you might not have considered before.

This webinar is ideal for early career memoir writers and other creative nonfiction writers who are interested in placing their stories in dialogue with other global stories to reach a broader and more diverse audience. It may also interest writers who are curious about historical research beyond genealogy.

All registrants receive a recording.

Closed captioning will be available.

Course Presenter

Course Registration


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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

Webinar FAQs

  • How do I prepare for the webinar?

    We usually open the webinar 3-5 minutes prior to start time (see webinar invite) so you can check your audio settings and make sure everything is working properly on your end. The host will welcome everyone and ask you to introduce yourself and share where you’re joining from in the text-based chat. Participation in the chat is optional.

    The actual webinar program usually gets rolling five minutes after the start time. This is also when the recording starts if you watch the video afterward.

    No one can hear you or see you during the webinar. The only people who are visible and can be heard during the webinar are the instructor and host.

    Audio Settings:
    If you’re unable to hear any sound during the webinar, please look at the bottom left of your Zoom window for Audio Settings, and click the small arrow to check your settings.

    Getting familiar with the Zoom software

    There are several ways to interact with the presenter and other students during the webinar:

    *Live chat

    *Formal Q & A window

    Live Chat:
    The live chat is where you can exchange messages in real time with other students attending the webinar, as well as the instructor and host. Usually your chat visibility defaults to just the presenter/panelists. If you want everyone attending to see your chat message (and most people do), then you need to select “everyone” or “all panelists and attendees” in the chat window.

    How to banish the chat:
    We encourage you to make use of the live chat throughout the webinar because it’s one of the great benefits of joining the live event. However, some find the chat distracting and would like to turn it off. As of today, Zoom doesn’t allow students to disable the chat, but there is a way to effectively “banish” it if you do not want to see it:

    1. Click the Chat icon at the bottom of the Zoom window
    2. When the Chat appears on the side of your window, click the small arrow icon and select Pop Out, which separates the Chat into its own free-floating window
    3. Then, using your cursor, drag the Chat off the side or bottom of your screen

    Formal Q & A:

    All webinars include time for Q & A with the presenter. This will be included in the recording.

  • How can I download the webinar recording?

    In most cases, unless you see the download arrow under the recording window, you will not be able to download the recording. You will have ongoing access to the recording link to view at your leisure. You can download any supplemental materials provided by following the links in the webinar recording description. The recording will be sent to you three days after the live event.

  • I did not receive the recording for a webinar. Can you re-send it?

    Yes, we’re sorry this happened. These messages are sent from “[email protected]” and sometimes go missing. Please email us and we’ll respond with a link to the recording.

  • When will the recording be available?

    We ask for 3 days to send you the recording. If you do not receive it within that time frame, please contact us and we’ll assist you.

  • Can I still register for [x] webinar?

    If the webinar is not marked “sold out,” you can still join.