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

  • 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.