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EGL 183 W — Creative Nonfiction: Writing the Lives of Others

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): Anne Zimmerman
Limit: 17
Apr 3—Jun 9
10 weeks
Drop By
Apr 11
3 Units
Anne Zimmerman
Every writer is human, so it should be easy to put people on the page, right? Wrong. “It’s very difficult,” says author Larry Leonard, “to make people out of words.” The challenge of capturing the complexities of human personality, voice, movement, and intention is daunting for any nonfiction writer. Yet this is our job as writers and observers of the human experience—if we can’t write interesting people, our work won’t resonate with readers. In this course, you’ll practice researching, talking to, and observing real people, and then writing prose that accurately brings the subject to life. You’ll learn how to gather information, interrogate the silences, and find truths that reveal core aspects of humanity and personality. In the first few weeks, we’ll observe strangers and interview family members. Weekly writing exercises will help you hone in on a larger story—and subject—that we’ll workshop in the second half of the quarter. By reading others’ stories and working on your own you’ll discover, again and again, that the authentically rendered human experience is what adds real heart to any story. This course is ideal for any nonfiction writer curious about learning how to translate the human experience to the page.

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.

Anne Zimmerman, Author

Anne Zimmerman is the author of An Extravagant Hunger: The Passionate Years of M.F.K. Fisher. She compiled and introduced two subsequent collections of Fisher’s work: Love in a Dish and Other Culinary Delights, and M.F.K. Fisher: Musings on Wine and Other Libations. Zimmerman has written for Mix magazine, Meatpaper, Culinate, The Kitchn, Tasting Table, Diner Journal, and others. She is finishing a memoir.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Wendy Call and Mark Kramer, Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers' Guide from the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University (ISBN 978-0452287556)