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CW 85 W — Personal Essay Workshop: How to Land in The New York Times "Modern Love" Column

Quarter: Fall
Course Format: Flex Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Sep 26—Dec 8
Refund Deadline: Sep 29
Units: 3
Tuition: $1000
Instructor(s): Liza Monroy
Limit: 19
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Closed
Please Note: No class the week of November 20
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Flex Online(About Formats)
Sep 26—Dec 8
10 weeks
Refund Date
Sep 29
3 Units
Liza Monroy
Please Note: No class the week of November 20
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
The New York Times “Modern Love” column, which has been running for nearly two decades, is a holy grail for the personal essayist, launching many book deals, podcasts, and even a TV show. The column’s success is largely due to the genre: a personal essay form that allows for exploration and use of compelling, transformative moments from firsthand experience to communicate meaning to a wide audience, turning life's messiness into narrative art.

In this course, we will close-read an array of “Modern Loves” to examine how they work, learn about what the editor is seeking, and shape our stories into a form that fits the column. We will focus on craft: How do you avoid self-pity and maximize self-implication? What makes a story exciting and engaging for readers? What general structure do columns follow? We will discuss the requirements of a “Modern Love” storycomplete self-disclosure (no pen names or pseudonyms!) and deep examination, tension and stakes, character arc, scenes, and dialogue. The instructor will provide students with feedback for revision. We will also discuss the submission process for “Modern Love,” as well as options for other markets for first-person relationship pieces—including The Los Angeles Times’s "L.A. Affairs," Shondaland, Salon, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, and The Sun—and teach you how to research other markets on your own.


Liza Monroy's books include two that launched from The New York Times “Modern Love" columns. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, O, Marie Claire, Longreads, Newsweek, Self, and Jezebel, among others. She received an MFA in nonfiction from Columbia University School of the Arts and has taught writing at Columbia and UC Santa Cruz.

Textbooks for this course:

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