Tell your story, better.
Creative Nonfiction's online classes give you the opportunity to learn in a small classroom environment on your own time. Write at night, on your lunch break... even in your underwear. All you need is an Internet connection and a little motivation.
Participants receive personalized feedback on assignments from their instructor, as well as responses from classmates on discussion board forums. All instructors have university teaching experience and/or are working professional writers--and there are never more than 14 students in any class. Conversation, firm deadlines, and feedback help keep you writing and improving your work throughout the class.
Whether you're just starting out or looking for an advanced class to help you refine and polish your work, we have a course for you. Class sessions begin in January, March, June, and September. Because of the flexible nature of our courses, we can gladly accept students from all across the globe.
If you're looking for a learning environment that features one-on-one interactions, customized coursework, and an individualized schedule, check out CNF's Mentoring Program.
September 12- October 16 & September 12 - November 20
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 that you register early.
Advanced Memoir and Personal Essay - B (10-week class)
Instructor: Lisa Ohlen Harris - This class is designed for those who have already explored the basics of personal writing and wish to move on to a larger project or more challenging forms. Participants can choose one of two paths, working either on sections of a memoir or on personal essays in a variety of styles. Participants will also explore that most slippery of writing elements: theme. Writers are often exhorted to connect their personal experiences to larger themes in order to appeal to a wider reading audience—but how does one do this, and what exactly is meant by theme? Within this context the course will also cover other elements of writing—style, rhythm, diction, description, and so on. Participants will read a series of essays on related themes and explore how different writers apply distinct approaches to similar subjects, and then think about how to apply those skills to their own writing. Learn more / enroll »
Creative Nonfiction Boot Camp (5-week & 10-week classes)
Instructors: Waverly Fitzgerald or Bridgette Shade - You want to do it. You're going to do it. You mean to start that writing project ... eventually. Now is the time to put excuses aside and start. Creative Nonfiction's special boot camp sessions will help you do just that by providing firm deadlines, daily writing exercises, and weekly feedback. Along the way you'll also develop the habit of writing regularly, which will serve you well for years to come. Learn more / enroll »
Foundations of Creative Nonfiction (10-week class)
Instructor: Michael Busk - Creative Nonfiction is a versatile genre that accommodates a vast array of styles and approaches. This course is designed to introduce students to the many sub-genres of creative nonfiction and the possibilities of the form. Students will have the opportunity to try their hand at different types of essays, including memoir, the profile essay, participatory journalism, and the immersion essay, among others. In the weekly lectures and discussions, we will talk about basic craft issues and discuss other writerly skill sets, such as performing research and conducting interviews. Readings will include classics from each genre of creative nonfiction, as well as more recently published work. Students will write three 3,500-word essays and participate in three optional writing assignments. Learn more / enroll »
Historical Narratives (5-week class)
Instructor: Marty Levine - Have you ever been fascinated by a true historical story? The tools of creative nonfiction are exactly right for turning historical finds into vivid characters and scenes. Even when you can’t interview your characters or directly observe them in action, you can still write great nonfiction narratives from the rich materials of history. Whether you’re just beginning or deep into researching a piece (especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of material you could use), this class will show you how to bring the past alive. You’ll learn how to find the best characters and scenes in what you’ve dug up, how to organize your information, and how to make it live on the page. We’ll look at published pieces of historical nonfiction, discuss your work in progress, and critique it in detail. You may choose to write the crucial beginning chapter of a longer piece or work on a section in the middle where you’ve been stuck. Alternatively, you may work on a smaller historical nonfiction piece that can be completed for the end of the class. To get the most out of the class, participants should have a subject in mind and at least one source of historical material. This could be a personal source like a diary or letters, material from a publicly-available archive, and so on. Learn more / enroll »
Narrative Medicine (10-week class)
Instructor: Ellen Ficklen - This class will guide all types of medical professionals (doctors, nurses, researchers, aides, social workers, etc.) through the various skills needed to write and publish narratives—personal stories of their experiences in health care (and those of others in the field). We will cover every step in the writing process, from brainstorming to researching to writing to revising, as well as the steps needed to pitch and publish an article or essay. Our instructors—experienced writers of health care narratives and creative nonfiction—will communicate with participants through a combination of written lectures, written feedback, and email. In addition, the class will include phone conferences with guest lecturers Theresa Brown and Manoj Jain. Learn more / enroll »
Selling Your Work (10-week class)
Instructor: Emily Stone - You’ve enjoyed reading great essays in Esquire, The New Yorker, and of course Creative Nonfiction, but by some counts there are also more than 1,000 “little magazines” out there waiting for the next Best American Essays writers to look in their direction. But how do you break in? This class introduces creative nonfiction writers to the culture of literary periodicals, writing fellowships, and publishing. Through weekly assignments and lectures, you’ll learn how to assemble a literary writer’s toolkit and navigate the world of small-press and online publishing. You’ll also learn about the fellowship opportunities available for emerging writers looking for time and funding to support their writing, and get an introduction to the basics of large-press publishing. Just as importantly, you’ll get out there and begin submitting your work. Learn more / enroll »
The Thirty-Minute Memoir (10-week class)
Instructor: Joelle Fraser - Patterned after our popular Boot Camp course, this class is designed to help break the potentially overwhelming task of writing a memoir into manageable daily writing. Each week will focus on a different aspect of memoir writing, from opening chapters to scenes involving dialogue. Every weekday participants will be encouraged to post 300 words of new writing, and at the end of the week they will choose 1,000 words from the week’s work to submit to their instructor for comment. You must post at least three times per week in order to receive feedback from the instructor for that week—ensuring that you’re motivated to stay on task. By writing for 30 minutes a day (or longer, if you choose), you’ll finish the class with 60 pages of a memoir draft, and receive invaluable feedback and support along the way. Learn more / enroll »
Writing the Personal Essay - B (10-week class)
Instructor: Meghan O'Gieblyn - Each of us has stories that are worth telling, but how can we fit the messiness of our lives through the narrow corridor of an essay? How can we resuscitate those moments on the page so that they live in the readers’ imaginations with the same force and freight as when we experienced them? How can we dramatize these events so that they attain the qualities of literature? Over the course of ten weeks, students will learn the building blocks of writing a personal essay—establishing a compelling narrative persona, creating strong characters, conjuring vivid descriptions, and building satisfying plots. Most importantly, students will learn how to connect their experiences to larger truths about our world. To do so, we’ll dissect the work of published authors and tweeze out for examination various elements of the personal essay. We will also look at contemporary trends in creative nonfiction, discussing recent developments in voice, essay structure, and hybrid genres. Students will write three 3,500-word essays, as well as participate in optional writing assignments and class discussions. Learn more / enroll »
Please follow the links below for more information on upcoming and future sessions:
- Inactive Classes
- Our Instructors
- Preliminary Class Schedule for 2017
- How do the classes work?
- Why Creative Nonfiction?
- Testimonials and Publications by CNF Students
- Frequently Asked Questions
If your question is not answered in the Frequently Asked Questions, please contact Ellen Ayoob, Director of Educational Programs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previous and/or Upcoming Classes
Advanced Memoir and Personal Essay - Curriculum A
Tackle larger and more challenging forms while learning the essentials of structure, character development, and researching memories.
Advanced Memoir and Personal Essay - Curriculum B
Work on theme, structure and experimental forms in this course for advanced writers. The reading list and assignments are entirely separate from Curriculum A, so students may wish to take both courses.
Audio Storytelling & Podcasting
Explore ways to create nonfiction narratives using the power of sound
Blogging for the Writer
How do you get readership for your blog? How do you make your blog pieces distinct and resonant? In this multi-week workshop, we will discuss "best practices" for successful blogging.
Creative Nonfiction Boot Camp
Write every day. No matter what.
Foundations of Creative Nonfiction - Curriculum A & B
Perfect for writers who are new to the genre, or anyone who wants to brush up on the basics.
Introduction to Nonfiction Podcasting
Produce a powerful audio narrative story that can stand alone or be the first in a series of podcasts.
Become a "fly on the wall" in our immersion journalism course. Students learn to observe, interview, and intimately explore their subject to craft a magazine-ready piece.
Designed specifically for medical professionals to learn the basics of narrative writing. We know you have work stories to tell--we'll help you craft them.
Get past that first draft and start editing. Work on the large scale (structure, voice) and small scale (style and language choices) to get your story ready for the world.
Selling Your Work: A Writer's Guide
Gain insight into the world of publishing and learn the skills necessary for corresponding with editors, submitting work for publication, applying for grants and writing residencies, and more.
Find the balance between the personal and the powerful, and learn how to share your thoughts with readers of differing beliefs or traditions.
The perfect post-vacation class (or reason to explore your own city). Hone your observation skills and get the world on the page through detail, scene and imagery.
Have an in-depth conversation about literary techniques and craft with a small group of writers every week. The course meets over video chat to discuss each student's work twice per term.
Writing the Nonfiction Book Proposal
You've got a book idea or maybe you've even written the book--now what? Learn about the publishing process in this course and fine-tune your own proposal with an instructor who's been through it before.
Writing the Personal Essay - Curriculum A & B
Turn your anecdotes into moving essays with facts, characters, and detail.
Writing the Tough Stuff
Learn the nuances of writing about grief, loss, and pain, and how to approach tough topics in your own writing.