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Advanced Personal Essay: Finding a Way Through

Advanced Level // 10-Week Online Course

Advanced Personal Essay: Finding a Way Through

January 06 - March 15

$435 if registered by 12/16/2019
$485 if registered after 12/16/2019

Your course registration includes a FREE 4-issue subscription to Creative Nonfiction or True Story magazine (US residents only), or a free ebook; more details here.

Advanced Courses require prerequisites for enrollment. If you purchase this course, you will be contacted to confirm that you meet at least one of the following qualifications:

  • completed an intermediate level course & one additional course (self-guided courses do not apply), or
  • have an MFA in creative nonfiction, or
  • have a strong publishing record.

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Instructor: Peter Mountford

“If other people are to care about your life, art must intervene.” - Hilary Mantel

Transforming actual people and events into characters and plot elements in an essay can be disorienting, but this is how we turn what would otherwise be journal entries—written for the author’s benefit—into literature, which exists for the benefit of readers.

This class is designed for those who have already explored the basics of personal writing and wish to explore specific techniques for turning a personal anecdote into a publishable essay.

Specifically, you will look at some typical structures of the personal essay, and how those formats help authors avoid common pitfalls of the form, such as getting lost in a giant pile of information and/or coming off as solipsistic/maudlin.

Some of the forms we’ll explore:

Week 1: Getting Started / Sourcing Material
Week 2: Approaches and Pitfalls
Week 3: Structure and Form
Week 4: Tone and Voice
Week 5: Theme vs Motif
Week 6: Structure
Week 7: Setting and Space in Essay 
Week 8: Dramatic Tension and Plot
Week 9: The “Drama of Ideas”
Week 10: Revision and Marketplace

See the complete syllabus here »

See schedule of all available classes »

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Refund, discount, and cancellation policies

By 5pm EST on the Monday before classes begin (one week prior to start date):

  • Students may request a refund (less a $50 application fee) or request a transfer to another course in the same term (no fee).

By 5pm EST on the Friday at the end of the first week of classes:

  • Students may transfer their enrollment credit to a future course (less a $95 processing fee for 10-week courses or a $75 processing fee for 5-week courses). Transfer credits must be applied within two years from your cancellation date.
  • Students may switch to another class in the same term (subject to availability) for a $25 fee.

No refunds or transfers will be offered after 5 pm on Friday of the first week of classes.

* Learn how to receive a "refer-a-friend" discount.

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* US residents will receive a complimentary 1-year subscription to Creative Nonfiction magazine (4 issues) or True Story magazine (12-issues) with their online course registration (or a year extension to their existing subscription). Students outside the US can receive a free copy of the ebook Creating Nonfiction: Lessons from the Voice of the Genre, or can choose to receive a 4-issue print subscription to Creative Nonfiction for the cost of shipping fees. We regret that we are not able to offer complimentary digital subscriptions for international students at this time.

If you are an international student who would like a print subscription, please click here to add the cost of shipping to your order total.