Special Program / The 2015 Creative Nonfiction Writers’ Conference (Archived Landing Page)

2015 Conference Schedule

Three days dedicated to the art and craft of memoir, magazine writing, personal essays & more.

At the 2015 Creative Nonfiction Writers’ Conference, successful writers of longform journalism, micro-nonfiction, memoir, and narrative nonfiction will share insights about how to find your voice, craft compelling true stories in the first person, and get published.

Editors from the Washington Post, BuzzFeed, Slate, Brevity, and Creative Nonfiction will share insider insights on what they're looking for, how to deliver a pitch, and making a name for yourself online.

Register for one, two, or all three days.

See the full schedule for each day:
Friday | Saturday | Sunday | Master Classes

Friday, May 22nd


9 a.m. // Check-in & Breakfast
Pick up your conference materials and join us for continental breakfast, coffee, and tea.

9:30 a.m. // Official Welcome and Opening Remarks

10 a.m. // First Person or Third Person, Why Creative Nonfiction Matters
Creative Nonfiction's founding editor discusses journalism’s shift toward first person narratives, the difference between “public" creative nonfiction and “personal" creative nonfiction, and why the genre matters now more than ever.

11 a.m. // The Art & Craft of Memoir
Dinty W. Moore, the author of multiple memoirs, craft guides, and editor of Brevity magazine, discusses the importance of pacing and narrative structure, using research in memoir, developing scenes and dialogue, the ethics of writing about friends and family, how to be funny, and more.

12 p.m. //  Lunch Break 
Explore Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood. There are many restaurants near the conference venue.

2 p.m. // Fact and Story: A Balancing Act
Writers and editors discuss the art of finding the balance between providing information and constructing a compelling narrative, and share their tips and techniques for seamlessly interweaving research with first person stories.

3 p.m. // Pitching to Win
Editors who write and publish in the first person talk about what it’s like to be on either side of a story pitch, review strategies for pitching to editors successfully, and share examples of successful (and not-so-successful) pitches.

4 p.m. // Preparing for the Pitch Slam
Meet with the editors in small groups to practice your pitch and get feedback in preparation for Saturday’s Pitch Slam.

5 p.m. // Literary Happy Hour
Sip cocktails, snack on hors d'oeuvres, and schmooze with agents, editors, writers, and the Creative Nonfiction staff at the Wyndham’s Bridges Restaurant and Lounge

Register »


Saturday, May 23rd


9 a.m. // Check-in & Breakfast 
Pick up your conference materials and join us for continental breakfast, coffee, and tea.

10 a.m. // How to Get Published
Agents, authors, editors, and freelance writers discuss concrete strategies you can use to get your work published, whether you’re trying to publish your work online, in print or literary magazines, or as a book. 

12 p.m. // Lunch Break
Explore Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood. There are many restaurants near the conference venue.

2 p.m. // Platform Building and Self-promotion
How important is a platform, really? How do you get started if you don’t have one? What does it looks like when it’s done well? Agents, editors and writers discuss and debate the answers to these questions and more.

3:15 p.m. // Pitch Slam
Fifteen volunteers will have the chance to deliver a pitch to our panel of editors, who will provide rapid-fire feedback.

5 p.m. // Mini-Moth Story Slam + Happy Hour
Former standup comedian and host of the Pittsburgh Moth StorySLAM Alan Olifson will discuss how his involvement with The Moth led him to writing creative nonfiction, and how telling your true stories out loud can help you as a writer. Several conference speakers will have a chance to tell five-minute stories, and the audience will select the grand champion. Drinks and hors d'oeuvres will be served.

Register »


Sunday, May 24th


9 a.m. // Check-in & Breakfast
Join us for continental breakfast, coffee, and tea.

9:30 a.m. // Master Classes*

11:30 a.m. // Lunch Break
Provided by CNF and served at the Wyndham

1:30 p.m. // Master Classes*
Participants who did not participate in a morning workshop will attend an afternoon workshop.


Master Classes

* All 3-day and Sunday registrants will be able to choose two of the following classes:

Launching a New Project THIS CLASS IS FULL
Learn how to determine the frame and focus of your project, develop a plan of attack, overcome writer's block, and get writing.
INSTRUCTOR // Anjali Sachdeva

Mastering StructureTHIS CLASS IS FULL
Learn how to overcome the challenges of writing a book-length narrative or memoir: sustaining interest when telling a long story; making a plan and knowing when it’s ok to deviate from it; knowing what to leave out; and mastering pacing.
INSTRUCTOR // Leslie Rubinkowski

Research Techniques THIS CLASS IS FULL
Discover new techniques for conducting in-depth research in the real world, in libraries, and online. Learn how to fact-check your work.
INSTRUCTOR // Marissa Landrigan

Using Fiction-writing Techniques in NonfictionTHIS CLASS IS FULL
Learn how to craft detailed description, realistic dialogue, complex characters, and rich scenes to make your nonfiction compelling. Plus, tips for un-purpling your prose, finding the heart of the story, and writing with economy.
INSTRUCTOR // Dinty W. Moore

Working with an Editor/Polishing Your Work THIS CLASS IS FULL
After your work has been accepted for publication, you’ll have the opportunity to work with an editor who can help make your work the best it can be. Learn how to make the most of the experience, and how to think like a top-notch editor when polishing your own work.
INSTRUCTOR // Hattie Fletcher

Quick links:
Conference HomeSchedule | Registration Options | Presenters
Hotel & Transportation | Venue | Cancellation Policy | Testimonials | FAQs

Questions? Contact us at [email protected].