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Winter Registration Opens Nov 29
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CW 183 W — Creative Nonfiction: Writing the Lives of Others

Quarter: Winter
Course Format: Flex Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 10—Mar 18
Refund Deadline: Jan 13
Units: 3
Tuition: $910
Instructor(s): Anne Zimmerman
Limit: 17
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Registration opens Nov 29, 8:30 am (PT)
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Flex Online(About Formats)
Jan 10—Mar 18
10 weeks
Refund Date
Jan 13
3 Units
Anne Zimmerman
Registration opens Nov 29, 8:30 am (PT)
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
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 home in on a larger story—and subject—that we’ll workshop in the second half of the quarter. By reading a biography 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 biographer or nonfiction writer curious about learning how to translate the human experience to the page.

Students should plan on investing four to six hours per week in order to gain substantial benefit from the course.


Anne Zimmerman’s first book was An Extravagant Hunger: The Passionate Years of M.F.K. Fisher. She has compiled and published 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. She has written for Mix, TASTE, and Mother magazines, The Kitchn, Tasting Table, and Edible Communities, among other publications.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Julia Cooke, Come Fly the World: The Jet-Age Story of the Women of Pan Am (ISBN 978-0358251408)
(Required) Mark Kramer and Wendy Call, Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers' Guide from the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University (ISBN 978-0452287556)