Self Guided

The Good Place: Crafting Setting & Landscape

June 7 - July 2

Whether you’re writing narrative journalism, memoir, or personal essays, a richly felt space/place can add depth or intrigue. 

Course starts June 7; enrollment is open until June 25th

Additional Information

In this generative workshop, you will write a portrait of a place, either natural or man-made, with an emphasis on depth, mood, and researched accuracy. You will use cultural or natural history resources to gather details, and learn how elements of craft can create mood and personality. Finally, in this self-guided class, you will learn techniques for incorporating settings and landscapes into prose projects.

Each week provides:

  • WEEKLY PROMPTS to help you generate new writing
  • INSPIRATION in the form of written lectures and selected readings

After the course closes, you will receive a zip file containing all of the course content and the work you developed during the month. You’ll also continue to be a member of our Creative Nonfiction Writing Classes’ Community Page, where you can share writings and calls for submissions, recommend books, and stay connected with other writers.

Course Schedule

WEEK ONE: Places, everyone!

You will look at how writers incorporate nature and landscape into different kinds of nonfiction and consider how the environment can work as both character and setting. Through directed prompts, you will do some preparatory/exploratory writing about place/nature from your memory or personal experience.

Week Two: Senses and sensibility

Sensory details add depth and richness to writing about the natural world. In this second week, you will experiment with active syntax and practice methods for involving all five senses in a setting. You will also explore a variety of research methods that can add an accurate and engaging "past" to your environmental writing.

WEEK THREE: Into the wild

While your own memories and research can tell you a lot about a place, sometimes you need to get into the space or place you're writing about and take some notes. If the place you're writing about is not accessible, this week will also address methods for contacting and interviewing experts. Through readings and prompts, you will explore how voice and tone can shape a piece of writing.

WEEK FOUR: Conservation/preservation

Revision is all about learning what to keep and what to let go of in an essay, and it is as essential to writing as weeding is to gardening. This week will address revision techniques, as well as best practices for submitting your work for publication.


"The Good Place" was developed by Chelsea Biondolillo. Chelsea Biondolillo is author of The Skinned Bird and the prose chapbooks, Ologies and #Lovesong. Her work has appeared in Orion, Guernica, River Teeth, Discover Magazine, Science, Brevity, Nautilus, Vela and others. She is a recipient of the Carter Prize for the Essay and fellowships from Colgate University and the NSF-funded Think, Write, Publish project. Her essays have been collected in Best American Science and Nature Writing 2016, Environmental and Nature Writing: a Writer’s Guide and Anthology, Waveform: 21st-Century Essays by Women, and How We Speak to One Another: an Essay Daily Reader. She holds an MFA in creative writing and environmental studies from  the University of Wyoming, and teaches and writes in a rural town not far from Portland, OR.

View Complete Syllabus

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.

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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

Self Guided FAQs

  • 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.

  • What’s the difference between Self-guided and Online Courses?



    Online courses are 5- and 10-week courses that offer firm deadlines, a flexible schedule that fits your needs, and instructor feedback to help you keep writing and improving your work. Terms start quarterly, and sections are capped at 14 students to help foster community and connection. 

    Self-guided classes are 4-week courses and 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.

     

  • 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 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.

  • 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.