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 and peer reviews. All instructors have university 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 (14-16 students) help foster community and an online workshop vibe.
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, April, 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.
January 9 - February 12 (5-week classes)
January 9 - March 19 (10-week classes)
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. If you'd like to be added to a waitlist for a sold-out class, please email our director of online education, Ellen Ayoob, at ayoob[at]creativenonfiction[dot]org.
Advanced Memoir and Personal Essay - A (10-week class)
Instructor: Jonathan Callard - 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. Class members will learn how to structure their chapters or essays, how to incorporate research into personal writing, how to develop character, how to use descriptive language effectively, and more. We will examine personal essays and memoir chapters from published authors to analyze their writing techniques, and discuss ways to use those techniques in our own writing. If participants wish to submit work that does not strictly fit the assignments given they can arrange to do so with the instructor. Learn more / enroll »
Creative Nonfiction Boot Camp (5-week & 10-week classes)
Instructors: Meghan O Gieblyn (5-week) or Bridgette Shade (10-week) - 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 5 weeks »
Learn more / enroll 10 weeks »
Eureka! Science Writing for General Audiences (5-week class)
Instructor: Chelsea Biondolillo - In this class, we’ll take a close look at the writing and research skills needed to craft engaging nonfiction about scientific discovery, research, and policy, and practice them over the course of five weeks. We’ll discuss how literary elements such as scene, character development, and narrative can bring scientific topics alive for general readers, as well as how to document research and interviews to prepare for the fact-checking process. Participants will complete one essay, and will also be given optional short exercises that can later be incorporated into longer pieces. We will also discuss how to identify and query markets for science-based nonfiction. Participants will receive personal feedback on their work from the instructor and feedback from other class members via Group Review sessions. Learn more / enroll »
Flash Essays (5-week class)
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—pieces that tell a complete story in no more than 750 words. Life is comprised 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, participants will generate a list of potential essay ideas and identify key details and imagery to help them dig into the heart of those stories. Students will also write up to five flash pieces of varying lengths. Learn more / enroll »
Narrative Journalism (10-week class)
Instructor: Marty Levine - This class (reworked from a former class, Magazine Writing) will explore how successful narrative journalists immerse themselves in their subjects’ worlds and/or conduct insightful interviews to reconstruct stories from the past. Over the course of 10 weeks, participants will learn how to conduct interviews, in-depth, immersive observations, construct scenes, define characters, and employ dialog artfully. The class will analyze how longer pieces are constructed, from notes to finished narrative, and discuss pieces by expert modern practitioners of narrative journalism, such as Sebastian Junger, Rebecca Skloot, Barbara Ehrenreich, John Berendt and others. Examples include profiles, science writing, personal journeys of discovery in which the writer takes center stage, and reported pieces in which the writer disappears into his or her subjects. Participants may choose to write three shorter pieces or one longer piece. Additional course work includes discussion forums, a weekly how-to presentation and optional writing exercises. Participants will be able to post notes and early drafts along the way, receiving feedback from both the instructor and other class members, as well as a final full critique from the instructor. Learn more / enroll »
NEW! The Blank Page: Working Through Writer's Block (5-week class)
Instructor: Rhonda Miller - You’re staring at the page, well, probably your computer screen. The great ideas you had while walking at sunset or in the shower seem to have evaporated. When you do start writing, your sentences seem uninspired. You delete. You start again. You delete again. The project you’ve been working on seems stuck in a rut. You think you’re suffering from writer’s block. Well, think again. What is writer’s block, actually? Does it exist? Or is it really a frustration that goes by many names? Fear. Perfectionism. Apathy. Procrastination. In this course we’ll confront the many faces of writer’s block. We’ll explore the myths and work with prompts and writing exercises to uncover your own personal obstacles to your best writing. With feedback from the instructor and other writers in the group, we’ll aim to open the creative channel and help your authentic writing voice come through more clearly. 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 - A (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 »
Writing Your Nonfiction Book Proposal (10-week class)
Instructor: Waverly Fitzgerald - If you have an idea for a creative nonfiction book, and want to find a publisher, this class if designed for you. Writing a book proposal is an art itself. This class covers all aspects of creating a book proposal, providing a format to help you showcase your writing and expertise. Assignments will help you clarify your idea, research the market, identify your audience, develop your credentials as an author, create an engaging overview and choose the best sample chapters for submission to publishers. Learn more / enroll »
Please follow the links below for more information on upcoming and future sessions:
- Inactive Classes
- Our Instructors
- Term Schedule and registration dates 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.