The Good Place: Crafting Setting & LandscapeView Course
Whether you’re writing narrative journalism, memoir, or personal essays, a richly felt space/place can add depth or intrigue. 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.
This course will offer new approaches for students at all levels—from those looking for inspiration to those working through an ongoing project.
Each week provides:
- PROMPTS to help you generate new writing
- INSPIRATION in the form of written lectures and a selection of readings
After the course closes: you will receive a zip file containing all of the work you developed during the month. You’ll also continue to be a member of our Creative Nonfiction Writing Classes’ Community Page. With this membership, you will be able to share writings and calls for submissions, recommend books, and stay connected with other writers.
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.