fullscreen background
Skip to main content

Spring Quarter

Spring Quarter Underway
Late-Start Classes
Still Available
shopping cart icon0


« Back to Creative Writing

CNF 43 W — Creative Nonfiction: How to Grab Your Reader

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): Julia Scheeres
Limit: 17
Apr 3—Jun 9
10 weeks
Drop By
Apr 11
3 Units
Julia Scheeres
How do we engage our readers on a deep, emotional level? Much depends on a book’s opening pages. In them, the author must set up the central drama, introduce tension, and present dynamic characters that keep readers turning pages, eager to learn their fate. This course will show you techniques to do this. Our strategies will include masterful storytelling, artful language, and a clear sense of theme and direction. (Although a little mystery never hurts, either.) Close readings of the opening pages of works by Mary Karr, Sonali Deraniyagala, Cheryl Strayed, and Truman Capote will underscore how successful memoirists and literary journalists hook their readers from the get-go. In addition to weekly writing exercises, students will work on crafting a compelling chapter of their own book and receive supportive feedback from their peers and instructor. This course is a good fit for memoirists and creative nonfiction writers of any level. Whether you’ve yet to start your book or have finished a draft but are unsure of your “hook,” this course is for you.

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.

Julia Scheeres, Author

Julia Scheeres is the author of the memoir Jesus Land, which was a New York Times and London Times bestseller. Her second book, A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Jonestown, was the Northern California Independent Booksellers Nonfiction Book of the Year and was recently optioned for a movie. Her essays and articles have appeared in outlets ranging from Elle magazine to The New York Times Magazine. She reviews books for The New York Times Book Review and is a member of the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.