This class explores creative nonfiction with an emphasis on literary journalism, one of the most popular and versatile writing genres today. Combining analysis with creativity, literary journalism blends reportage with a personal narrative or angle. We will explore this genre through a combination of discussion, readings, and writing and workshop of two pieces: a short personality profile and a medium-length work of literary journalism. We will also discuss application of this genre in journals, magazines, newspapers, and online publications.
A cornerstone of literary writing, scenes dramatize a moment and bring it to life for readers. This course will share some tools for effective scene-setting, from sensory detail and imagery to character, dialogue, and plot. Through reading samples and writing exercises, students will practice using these building blocks to craft their own scenes, culminating in a short essay or story by the end of the class.
Using the techniques of literary journalism, we'll write about topics with a nature/environment focus. Along the way, we'll take cues from Edward Abbey, Terry Tempest Williams, Rick Bass, and Louise Erdrich, who explore a connection between their lives and the environment, from personal to political. Through a combination of reading discussions and writing workshops, we'll discuss best practices and research methods, from interviews to archives. Every writer will compose two pieces—one short personal piece, and one longer essay integrating research. We will also discuss publication opportunities.
Freelance writing, or nonfiction writing for a variety of publications, requires journalistic skills, a clear writing voice, and marketing savvy. We'll practice all of these facets of freelance writing through writing, researching, and pitching your work. Some of the forms we'll discuss include place-based/travel, personality profile, reviews, and blog entries. We'll also discuss the business side of freelance writing, including sending queries, working with editors, and keeping track of your work.
This course offers a view of publishing through analyzing publications and publishers; writing and submitting work; and working with others to bring a submitted manuscript to printed book form. Some of the tasks we'll complete include manuscript selection, editing, and marketing of the final product. Skills learned and practiced in this course translate well to work in the editorial field.
In creative nonfiction, writers find the extraordinary in the everyday using literary techniques such as dialog, characterization, and scene to explore true events. This versatile writing style is expressive as well as informative, and has application in academic, literary, and business settings. Some genres of creative nonfiction include memoir, travel narrative, literary journalism, the lyric essay, and flash nonfiction.