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CNF 05 W — Taming Truth into Prose: The Essentials of Nonfiction

Quarter: Winter
Course Format: Online (System Requirements)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 14—Mar 22
Drop Deadline: Jan 17
Units: 3
Tuition: $895
Instructor(s): Robin Romm
Limit: 17
Status: Closed
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is January 17 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is January 22 at 5:00 pm (PT).
Winter
Date(s)
Jan 14—Mar 22
10 weeks
Drop By
Jan 17
3 Units
Fees
$895
Instructor(s):
Robin Romm
Limit
17
Closed
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is January 17 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is January 22 at 5:00 pm (PT).
Often, we know we have a story, but when we sit down to write it—if we sit down to write it—the details all come rushing forward, jumbled and tangled. Which scene is actually important? Do we need all of these characters? And what about the issue of chronology? What about all that research? How do memoirists and journalists write such shapely nonfiction, when the world is such an unruly and complicated place? This course, which is open to all nonfiction writers (e.g., memoirists, personal essayists, nature writers, travel writers, science writers, and food writers), will focus on how to isolate the most interesting stories and then hone them, so they come across as interesting stories to the reader. How do we choose details that will evoke an emotional response? How do we write our difficult material without becoming maudlin or sentimental? How do we write complex human dynamics or fold in factual information without becoming wonks? What is the role of plot in creative nonfiction? Each week, writers will be presented with a structured exercise that will explore issues of craft: dialogue, detail, character, story arc. Our goal will be for each writer to come away with at least one finished memoir excerpt or essay, which we will discuss in a supportive workshop. Exercises and workshops will be supplemented with readings by some of the most engaging writers of our time.

Robin Romm, Author; Faculty, Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers

Robin Romm is the editor of the essay collection Double Bind: Women on Ambition; author of the story collection The Mother Garden, a finalist for the PEN Center USA fiction award; and author of the memoir, The Mercy Papers, which was named a Notable Book of 2009 by The New York Times, and a best book of the year by the San Francisco Chronicle and Entertainment Weekly.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Joan Wickersham, The Suicide Index (ISBN 978-0156033800)
(Required) Ariel Levy (Editor), Robert Atwan (Editor) , Best American Essays 2015 (ISBN 978-0544569621)
(Recommended) Philip Roth, Patrimony (ISBN 978-0679752936)
(Recommended) Vivian Gornick, The Situation and the Story (ISBN 978-0374528584)
(Recommended) Flannery O’Connor, Mystery and Manners (ISBN B000W98ED4)
DOWNLOAD THE PRELIMINARY SYLLABUS » (subject to change)