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CNF 94 — Personal Essay Writing: How to Craft Stories That Sell

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Wednesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 2 weeks
Date(s): Jan 17—Jan 24
Time: 6:00—8:30 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Jan 10
Unit: 0
Grade Restriction: NGR only; no credit/letter grade
Tuition: $270
Instructor(s): Amy Ettinger
Limit: 21
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Closed
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
6:00—8:30 pm (PT)
Jan 17—Jan 24
2 weeks
Refund Date
Jan 10
0 Unit
Grade Restriction
NGR only; no credit/letter grade
Amy Ettinger
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
A personal essay that goes viral has the potential to shape your writing career and may pave the way for a book deal. In this course, we will delve into the elements that contribute to crafting a successful commercial essay that resonates with readers and can be sold to websites and magazines.

We will look at examples of recent personal essays that went viral and led to book deals, studying how these writers navigated delicate topics, from mental health to body image issues. We will pay attention to what these writers chose to share versus what was withheld. We will talk about how to protect the privacy of family members, why you might choose to use a pseudonym, when you need permission to share personal stories, and how to protect yourself from liability.

Students will be given a list of current editors at publications that are open to working with new writers. We will do our best to identify what these editors are currently looking for, as well as the best outlets to attract agents’ and publishers’ attention. You'll exit the course with a solid strategy for placing personal essays in the country’s top markets.

Author; Journalist; Essayist

Amy Ettinger is the author of Sweet Spot: An Ice Cream Binge Across America. She has appeared on All Things Considered, Marketplace, Here & Now, Forum, and The California Report. She has written for The New York Times, McSweeney’s, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, New York, and Time.

Textbooks for this course:

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