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The Wounded Storyteller: Crafting the Illness Narrative

Intermediate Level // 10-Week Online Class

The Wounded Storyteller: Crafting the Illness Narrative

September 09 - November 17

$435 if registered by 08/19/2019
$485 if registered after 08/19/2019

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.

Refund, discount, and cancellation policies


Instructor: Katherine Standefer

Stories of illness can be hard to write and even harder to read, asking writers to render vividly long timelines, entangled ailments, periods of disorientation, and dense, technical language—while not overwhelming readers with the grief of loss or proximity to death. And yet these stories are essential to our understanding of what it means to be human.

In this 10-week online course, writers will craft nonfiction narratives that explore the experience of illness. We’ll begin by discussing the established value of writing about such experiences, exploring the difference between writing that is primarily therapeutic and writing that seeks to reach literary audiences. Next, we’ll explore how craft choices can help writers avoid the common narrative pitfalls of illness writing, using exercises on chronology, framing, structure, research, and character-building to glimpse the different ways stories might be told. Near the end of our time together, we’ll consider the book-length illness narrative and clarify for ourselves why we should tell illness stories at all—what our experience has to offer the world.

Whether you are just beginning to tell the story of your own illness, or you have written a book that you know needs tightening, this workshop will provide you with the craft tools and support to critically and creatively approach unwieldy stories of illness.

Week 1: The Challenge of Telling Stories of Illness
Week 2: The Tyranny of Play-by-Play
Week 3: Bite-sized Intensity
Week 4: The Terrible & the Beautiful: Character and Syntax
Week 5: Beginnings
Week 6: Time Management in Illness
Week 7: Framing
Week 8: Not Just Your Story
Week 9: Incorporating Research in Compelling Ways
Week 10: What Is the Point of Illness (and Telling Stories of Illness)?

See the complete syllabus here »

See schedule of all available classes »


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.


* 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.