To apply for this class you must submit a writing sample. This should be nonfiction, though it does not have to be from the proposal you plan to work on in class. No more than 2.5k words, please. Writers will be notified of their acceptance on a rolling basis, and no later than June 8th.
This 10-week workshop and craft class is designed to help memoirists develop a book proposal to share with literary agents and/or editors. Writers who have not yet generated pages or sample chapter(s) are welcome, but this course will be most helpful for those who already have a concrete idea for a longer work and are eager to begin creating the scaffolding for a formal proposal.
The class will alternate between craft and student workshops. For the first few weeks, we will primarily focus on what goes into a book proposal. Lectures, exercises, and featured guest speakers will help students break down the components of a successful proposal so they reach a thorough understanding of how to craft their own. We will also work on refining the ideas for our books, testing our preconceived notions about the limitations and scope of our projects and hopefully expanding our sense of what these ideas might mature into. In this phase of the class, writers will develop a detailed chapter outline for their nonfiction projects, as well as a comprehensive proposal overview; both the outline and overview will be submitted to the group for peer and instructor feedback.
In the second phase of the class, writers will have the opportunity to submit a sample chapter or chapters (6,000-8,000 words) for workshop. These submissions will be workshopped as well, with special attention paid to how sample material will fit into the larger framework of the proposal and articulate its goals, as well as what the submissions reveal about the writer’s style, mission, and their book’s narrative arc.
Writers will graduate this class with a thorough understanding of what a persuasive book proposal looks like, and several components of their own book proposal written and workshopped, including sample chapters.
- Writers will write and workshop: 1) one sample chapter (or 5,000-8,000 words) of their memoir (fine if sample material has been drafted prior to the start of the course); 2) a comprehensive memoir proposal overview; and 3) a detailed chapter outline for their memoir.
- In addition to in-line comments on each submission, writers will receive a detailed editorial letter from the instructor at the end of both of their workshops, summing up thoughts and offering suggestions for how to improve the work moving forward.
- Thorough feedback on every submission from a motivated group of peers.
- A more complete understanding of what goes into a nonfiction proposal, and how to craft your own.
- Clear and concrete information about the publishing industry and how to navigate it as an aspiring writer.
Week 1: Intros and logistics
Week 2: What is a book proposal?
Week 3: Overviews, intros, and selling your book before it’s written (featuring an experienced literary agent as guest speaker)
Week 4: Chapter outlines
Week 5: Sample chapter(s)
Week 6: Workshop
Week 7: Workshop
Week 8: Workshop
Week 9: Workshop
Week 10: Getting published and what to do next
* Please note that the course overview is just an outline, and is subject to change prior to the class start date.
*No class July 3rd
Nicole Chung’s debut memoir All You Can Ever Know will be published in October 2018. Her essays and articles have appeared in The New York Times, GQ, Longreads, Shondaland, BuzzFeed, and Hazlitt, among many others. She is the web editor-in-chief of Catapult and the former managing editor of The Toast. Find her on Twitter: @nicole_soojung
Book blurbs can be read at nicolechung.net
"[Nicole is] a generous and precise editor. She's thoughtful in two senses: She's kind, yes, and just as important, she really thinks about the complexities—in writing, in relationships, in culture, in public personae."
"Nicole's generosity in sharing the work of and creating opportunities for emerging writers is immense. Both her writing and her editing are incredibly smart and sensitive."
"Nicole is an absolutely incredible editor. She approaches pieces with deep understanding, care, and a sharp sense of how they can be improved. Working with her at The Toast and Catapult has been an incredible privilege and has made me a much better writer."
"Nicole literally helped me find my writer’s voice. She taught me that writing isn’t just about relaying an interesting event or idea, but about conveying those events/ideas in a way that connects people through their shared humanity."
"I want to thank Nicole for her consistent guidance and encouragement. I really do feel that Nicole gave me (a mostly unpublished writer) a chance, through Kundiman, through Catapult, through those first drafts that I sent her last year . . . I feel so much more sure of my writing, and so much more brave after these opportunities and insights she’s given me."
"I met Nicole during the Kundiman Creative Nonfiction Writing Intensive and was in awe of how giving and supportive she was, and how generous she was with her time and insight. Her love and dedication shows through her own writing and the writing she so carefully edits."
"Nicole edited and published the first essay I was really scared to write. It was a painless and enlightening experience that made me less scared to be more open online and in my writing."