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CNF 02 W — Creative Nonfiction, Book II: Diving Deep and Surfacing

Quarter: Spring
Course Format: Online course (System Requirements)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Apr 3—Jun 9
Drop Deadline: Apr 11
Units: 3
Tuition: $850
Instructor(s): Lewis Buzbee
Limit: 17
Apr 3—Jun 9
10 weeks
Drop By
Apr 11
3 Units
Lewis Buzbee
This course will help you expand and amplify the initial ideas behind the creative nonfiction book you seek to write, leading to a solid sense of the book’s direction and scope. We will work on the minute questions (your sentences and style) and the larger aspects (structure and intention), as well as everything in between (scene and chapter shape). Short readings from some of the best published creative nonfiction authors (Joan Didion, Richard Rodriguez, James Baldwin, and others) will offer new possibilities to us as writers. The weekly writing assignments that grow out of our reading will focus on new craft elements and new approaches to craft. In addition, we will tangle with many of the options available to the nonfiction writer: scene versus compressed narration; incorporating research; building comprehensive, revealing worlds; the act of memory; and effective outlines. Students will submit either one full-length chapter of fifteen to thirty pages, or two shorter excerpts of ten pages each, for workshop. By the end of the course, you will have more pages on your desk, a new set of writing strategies, and a clear map of what lies ahead.

Although the time commitment for an online writing course is dependent upon one’s degree of participation, students should plan on investing four to six hours per week in order to gain substantial benefit from the course.

This is the second course of the three-quarter sequence, “The Creative Nonfiction Book.” Creative nonfiction is a fast-growing genre that includes memoir, essays, biography, and writing on such topics as art, science, and history. For those who want to write a book of creative nonfiction, “Creative Nonfiction, Book I: A Plan for Success” (Winter 2017), “Creative Nonfiction, Book II” (Spring 2017), and “Creative Nonfiction, Book III” (Summer 2017) will provide invaluable instruction and a supportive community. While these courses build upon one another, each course can be taken independently as well.

Lewis Buzbee, Faculty, MFA in Writing Program, University of San Francisco

Lewis Buzbee is the author of Blackboard: A Personal History of the Classroom, The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, and three novels for younger readers, Steinbeck’s Ghost, The Haunting of Charles Dickens, and Bridge of Time. He received an MFA from Warren Wilson College.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Robert Atwan and Joyce Carol Oates, eds., The Best American Essays of the Century (ISBN 9780618155873)