What is creative nonfiction?

Maybe you’ve heard the term thrown around in writing circles and you’re not quite sure what it means—how is “creative” nonfiction different than plain old nonfiction? Just as fiction has many sub-genres (mystery, romance, sci-fi, literary, etc.), creative nonfiction also has sub-genres.

In this six-week survey course, we will explore eight sub-genres of creative nonfiction: biography & autobiography, memoir, personal essay, lyric essay, meditative essay, literary journalism and flash nonfiction. Each week we will read and discuss a work of creative nonfiction that exemplifies these sub-genres; we will look at how published authors successfully execute their pieces in each of these forms; we will spend time writing our own creative nonfiction, and we will leave room for exploring how creative nonfiction is often undefined, unruly and, sometimes, unavoidable.

CNF 101 is designed as a survey course, which means that our attention will be on exploring and understanding the genre in its many forms. Although there will be time for writing and minimal critique of participants’s writing, that is not our central focus. The goal of this course is to foster a greater understanding of the creative nonfiction genre so that when you leave and sit down to your next piece of writing you may readily identify the form that it wants or needs to take.

Get on the waitlist for CNF101

At the end of six weeks you will:

  • understand how the literary world talks about creative nonfiction as a genre
  • have read 6-8 excellent examples of creative nonfiction’s different forms
  • have practiced writing in each of the CNF sub-genres
  • have had a short piece of your CNF writing workshopped, if you’d like
  • be familiar with many resources available for continuing to explore creative nonfiction

About the Instructor

Janna Marlies Maron holds an MA in Creative Writing and has been writing creative nonfiction for nearly her entire life, but she never knew what to call it until grad school. She has six years of professional publishing experience at both newspapers and magazines, and she’s also an editor and publisher of creative nonfiction. You may have heard of her magazine, Under the Gum Tree, which exclusively publishes creative nonfiction. The magazine celebrated its three-year anniversary in October 2014, which means that Janna has read hundreds of submissions and can speak directly to what works and what doesn’t work in the genre. You can read more about Janna on the about page of this website or by reading her blog where she shares her personal story, which is the driving force behind her passion for creative nonfiction.

What do I need to participate?

You will need to have reliable internet access, an email address that you check regularly and your preferred method of writing (by hand with a pen or pencil in a journal, or by typing on a laptop or tablet). You will also need access to a printer if you prefer to print assigned readings, which will be posted online for you to download on a weekly basis.

Do I need to have experience writing nonfiction?

Experience writing nonfiction will be helpful, but it is not required. This course is designed specifically for writers who are uncertain of how to shape their nonfiction work. That often means that you have an experience you want to write about, but are unsure of how to begin, or you have been journaling for a while and are unsure of how to organize the writing into something more cohesive. Bring your nonfiction work, or come prepared to explore the genre for the first time.

When and where will the course be held? And what is the cost?

All this info will be updated as soon. In the meantime, get on the waitlist for CNF101 so that you are the first to know as soon as it’s available!