Online Course

Introduction to Audio Storytelling & Podcasting

April 11 - May 15, 2022

Level Fundamentals

Learn how to write, record, and produce a powerful audio narrative that can stand alone or be the first in a series of podcasts.

Additional Information

Podcasting is the new blogging—an easy, effective way to share information or personal stories with a wide audience. This five-week course will help you get started, with overviews and discussions of how to choose equipment, what audio editing programs are available, and how to pitch your audio stories to broadcast outlets. You’ll have opportunities to practice interviewing, writing for broadcast, and editing audio.

This is a hands-on experience: We’ll begin with a 7-day free trial of the widely used Adobe Audition audio editing software. Then you will be required to purchase a one-month plan (not an annual plan paid monthly) for $31.49 that will cover the remainder of the course. Working on Audition will give you the basic skills to use on any audio editing software, which all have similarities.

We’ll focus on writing for broadcast, a more concise style than writing for print, but with the same emphasis on authentic voice and powerful word usage. Your writing can be poetic, humorous, conversational, or scientific, and in this course you’ll have a chance to experiment with different styles.

You’ll do some recording and get some tips on microphone vocal technique. We’ll do some short two-track mixes featuring a vocal narrative over a music bed. Please be aware that beginning audio editing is like learning to play piano or dance salsa: it takes a little time and practice. Please plan to spend a few hours per week on audio production, in addition to the writing, so you can complete the basic recording, editing, and mixing projects.

Technical requirements: You will need a basic microphone (on a headset is okay) with a USB connection, or a digital recorder. Since this is a basic course, you can even use a smartphone, such as an iPhone, and record on the Voice Memo app. You’ll just have to be able to download all your recorded sound onto your computer so you can edit in the audio software program. Audio producers have lots of personal favorites for equipment, so it’s best to start with simple but functional equipment so you enjoy the process; you can decide later on what equipment best suits your podcasting goals.

ADDITIONAL COST: After the first week of class, those without an Adobe Audtion subscription will be required to purchase a one-month plan (not an annual plan paid monthly) for $31.49.

Course Schedule

Week 1: Writing for Broadcast & Preparing the Tools

Writing for broadcast begins with whittling down the narrative to the fewest, most powerful words. Practice exercises will start the process of being brief and creative. An equipment check of the microphone and downloading the 7-day free trial of Adobe Audition audio editing software, along with uploading some practice soundtracks, will launch the production portion of the course.

Week 2: Recording & Beginning Audio Production

You will record a basic voice track, and we’ll upload our recordings to Wet Ink to begin sharing and reviewing our recording space, making easy improvements to get “studio sound,” such as turning off AC or working in a room with “soft” furniture. We’ll begin to use the basic audio editing tools for cutting out clicks, pops, and other unwanted sound, as well as using fading and other tools to adjust volume levels within the recording. We’ll do a video chat during Week 2, with screen sharing to review details of audio editing.

Week 3:  Vocal and Microphone Technique & Expanding Audio Production Skills

You’ll choose and record short narratives and choose from several music or sound beds to mix with your voice track. This basic two-track mix is the foundation that will allow you to build audio production skills into the future.

Week 4: Recording Your Story & Fine Audio Editing

You’ll record a short narrative based on personal interest, choose sound or music, and create a two-track mix that allows you to begin to develop your personal audio storytelling style. We’ll continue to add more tools for audio editing as you build your production skills. Peer review of writing and audio production will allow you to polish your short audio podcast.

Week 5: Podcast Showcase & Distribution Options

Individual podcasts are presented, along with a discussion of distribution options, such as SoundCloud, iTunes, and the expansive possibilities for organizational websites and podcasts based on personal interests. Each member of the group will develop a brief plan for the next step in audio storytelling or podcasting.

View Complete Syllabus

Course Instructor

Course Registration

$310.00

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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.

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Testimonials

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

Online Course FAQs

  • 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.

  • 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 are your community standards?

    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:

    • Repeated disruption of classes, lectures or discussion
    • Deliberate intimidation
    • Unwelcome sexual attention
    • Comments or displayed images that harmfully reinforce structures of oppression

    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.

    When you join a course you agree to…

    • respect others and respect their writing;
    • maintain the privacy of all submitted work;
    • treat others with respect;
    • not infringe on anyone’s copyright;
    • not harass, abuse, threaten or impersonate another user; and
    • not use libelous, obscene, or abusive work.


    Online Communication Guide

    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:

    1. Start from a position of generosity (i.e. assume that people mean well)
    2. Address your post to someone or to the group. Instead of “Hey” or just jumping in to your post, try “Hi All” or “Hi [Name].”
    3.  Don’t be afraid to use emoticons and/or exclamation points! 🙂
    4. Please avoid ALL CAPS whenever possible, as they tend to come off as RUDE or YELLING.
    5. Avoid harsh or offensive language of any kind. If you’re in doubt, try rewording or reconsidering your post.
    6. Sarcasm is very difficult to convey in writing — best to avoid it.
    7. When interacting with your peers, please consider that some may have limited experience with English, online education, and/or creative writing. It’s a good rule of thumb not to write anything you wouldn’t say if that person were standing in front of you.
    8. Often writers from underrepresented groups are asked to explain everything for an assumed monolithic audience (often cis/white/hetero/masculine/able-bodied, etc. etc.). As you respond to peers’ work, keep in mind that you may not be the writer’s intended audience, and leave room for the possibility that the writer is writing for a group of which you are not a member. (For more on this, listen to this episode of Code Switch for an in depth conversation.)

    See your course for additional feedback guidelines provided by your instructor.

  • How do I find my course archive?

    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.

  • What do the course levels mean?

    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).