Online Classes

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.

Students receive personalized feedback on assignments from their instructor, as well as responses from classmates on discussion board forums and peer reviews. All instructors have extensive teaching experience and/or are working professional writers. Conversation, firm deadlines, and feedback help keep you writing and improving your work throughout the class. Small class sizes help foster community and an online workshop vibe.

Whether you're just starting out or are looking for an advanced class to help you refine and polish your work, we have a course for you. Class sessions begin in January, April, June, and September. Because of the flexible nature of our courses, we can gladly accept students from all across the globe. Learn more about all of our classes here.

See what past students have to say about our growing writing community, and read some publishing success stories from our students. 



Fall Online Classes 

September 10 - November 12

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 registering early. If you'd like to be added to a waitlist for a sold-out class, please email our Director of Education, Sharla Yates, at yates[at]creativenonfiction[dot]org.

Advanced Personal Essay: Finding a Way Through NEW!
Instructor: Peter Mountford

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.
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Advanced Memoir: From First Sentence to Resolution NEW!
Instructor: Kase Johnstun

This class is designed for writers who have already explored the basics of memoir and are ready to tackle the challenges of longer excerpts and full-length manuscripts. Over the course of 10 weeks, we will look at how to start a full manuscript, how to conceptualize and write “critical chapters,” and how to use/write a resolution in memoir when it must reflect real life. We will also look at the importance of Truth in memoir. When is it okay to fill in gaps, cut or combine characters, or speed up narrative to write an entertaining scene or narrative? You will learn the advanced technique of creating a contract between you, the author, and your reader, look at expanding your memoir beyond the the personal (the “I”), and practice incorporating the world surrounding your story using scene, research, and detail.
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Advanced Science Writing NEW!
Instructor: Chelsea Biondolillo

If you are ready to move beyond character, scene, and setting in your science writing, this is the class for you. Whether you write about environmental issues, health and medical topics, tech, or other science-related topics, this workshop will help you take your work to the next level. We will take a deep dive into the structure and narrative arcs of writing excellent science essays and address ethics, revision, and marketing your work in this class intended for students with experience writing short or long-form narrative nonfiction.
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Approaching Mystery: Writing Flash Memoir about Wonder and the Unexplained 
Instructor: Joanna Penn Cooper

Flash poses a challenge: how to tell a meaningful story in few words. This course will show you how the flash memoir form is particularly suited to representing the mystery of the writer’s mind. Even as it remains grounded in the reality of lived experience, flash memoir can capture the absurd or surreal quality of everyday life. The short pieces you compose in this course could become foundations for longer works (essay/memoir) or remain stand alone "flash" pieces. Alternately, you could see them as writing practice, as a way to loosen up and access your creativity. You will explore the parameters and promises of creative nonfiction and how the particular conventions of the flash essay can be a rich source of inspiration.
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Creative Nonfiction Boot Camp (10-Week)
Instructors: Waverly Fitzgerald or Bridgette Shade

You want to do it. You mean to do it. You’re going to do it, really…a bit later. It’s the summer, after all, and you’ve got the time. But somehow that writing you’ve been meaning to get around to just never seems to happen. Creative Nonfiction’s summer boot camp is a 10-week course to ensure that you will get around to that summer writing, 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 all year long. After 10 weeks, if you've completed the minimum number of assignments, you'll have an essay of between 6,000 and 12,000 words, or at least thirty passages to use as starting points for future essays.
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Creative Nonfiction Boot Camp (5-Week)
Instructor: Ploi Pirapokin

Can't commit to 10-weeks? We have a 5-week option!
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Flash Essay
Instructor: Jenna McGuiggan

Some experiences beg us to write about them, but we often feel overwhelmed when trying to capture the whole story at once. In this class, we'll explore the art of flash nonfiction and short essays. Life is made up of moments: big showy ones and small quiet ones—many of them infused with deeper meaning. Sometimes we can easily articulate a moment’s meaning, but often we can only make sense of it peripherally. In a flash essay, the moment and the meaning must be distilled to their purest essence. Through a series of writing exercises, you will generate a list of potential essay ideas and identify key details and imagery to help you dig into the heart of those stories. You will also write several flash pieces of varying lengths.
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Foundations of Creative Nonfiction // Curriculum B
Instructor: Lori Jakiela

Creative nonfiction has become one of the fastest-growing genres in the literary and publishing community. It encompasses forms from memoir and personal essay to literary journalism, travel writing, and hybrid forms like the lyric essay, as well as many others. In this course, participants will get to experience working in a few of these subgenres by writing three essays of approximately 3,500 words. Each of the weekly lectures and readings will focus on a particular issue relevant to writing creative nonfiction, like how to go about conducting research, how to find and select subjects to write about, and how to use the scene building elements of craft to create memorable essays. There will also be optional writing exercises leading up to these larger assignments.
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Spiritual Writing
Instructor: Jonathan Callard

This course will ask, what, if anything, can make nonfiction writing “spiritual”? How to write about something so personal and powerful and share it with an audience of differing beliefs or traditions? How to move beyond the saccharine to illuminate a truth? You will choose a spiritual question or subject to explore in-depth, and will investigate this topic by writing two 500-word pieces and one article/essay of up to 4,000 words. The class will focus on getting started, gathering material, and revising for publication. Writers from all backgrounds and faiths are welcome.
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The Thirty Minute Memoir
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. Monday through Thursday, you will be encouraged to post 300 words of new writing, and at the end of the week you will choose 1,000 words from the week’s work (or elsewhere) to submit to your instructor for comment. This course will help you tackle your memoir by providing firm deadlines, writing exercises, and weekly feedback. Along the way you'll also develop the habit of writing regularly.
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Writing the Personal Essay // Curriculum B
Instructor: M. Randal O'Wain

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.
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Writing the Tough Stuff
Instructor: Melissa Petro

Everyone experiences personal difficulty at some point in their lives. As writers, we often find that we want to write about loss, grief, or trauma in order to both understand how our personal narrative has changed us, and to relate our changed self to the world. The course will present strategies for strong creative nonfiction writing about these subjects, and discuss cross-disciplinary research in creating trauma narratives. Each week will include a written lecture, specific reading recommendations tied to the lecture, and a writing assignment.
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Please follow the links below for more information:

If your question is not answered in the Frequently Asked Questions, please contact Sharla Yates, Director of Education, at yates@creativenonfiction.org.