Online course: The Fundamentals of Creative Nonfiction


Tuesday Evenings, 6:30-9 p.m. (Atlantic Time), February 22-April 12 on Zoom

Do you have a goal of launching a professional career as a creative nonfiction writer? Would you just like to dabble in the genre as a part-time endeavour? Are you simply curious about what’s involved in this kind of nonfiction writing and would like to learn more? Whether your interest is in tackling a family memoir or a personal essay; breaking into travel writing, profiling an individual whose accomplishments merit attention, or almost any project based around well-researched, well-written, and factual storytelling, Writing Creative Nonfiction will help you build the toolkit you need to get you started.

Creative nonfiction combines journalism’s attention to reporting and factual accuracy with many of the dramatic techniques of fiction. At its best, it holds the attention of readers, entertaining them while simultaneously providing the depth and context necessary to understand complex issues and events or capture the essence of a profile subject. (Creative nonfiction is the default style for most larger-market magazines as well as the nonfiction book industry.) But there’s another advantage to these skills. Many writers discover that gaining sophisticated stylistic and structural talents, as well as a keen sense of storytelling, can make them valuable both inside and outside of journalism—in the corporate world, government, and the non-profit sector, for example.

Over eight weeks, this course will discuss brainstorming ideas and tailoring them to realistic markets in a query letter; developing a researching-and-reporting plan to help guide you through the process; the power of “scenes;” why dialogue is stronger than quotes; how to structure creative nonfiction (a “narrative arc”) and write in a clean, clear way. There will be readings that the class will discuss, identifying which techniques were used and why they worked. And, of course, there will be two or three writing exercises.

David Hayes is an award-winning feature writer, author, and editor. His work has appeared in publications such as Toronto Life, The Walrus, Reader’s Digest, Chatelaine, The Globe and Mail, The New York Times Magazine, The Guardian and others. He has written three books and co-written or ghostwritten ten more. He is a mentor-advisor on the faculty of the University of King’s College’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction (where students work exclusively on book projects.)