How do we as writers of nonfiction build suspense, plot, and character into the dross of real life? How can we develop and construct our narrative voice and persona? How can reading as writers and developing our critical faculties contribute to our presence on the page?
Whether you are working on a memoir or a reported project, this course will challenge you to apply the techniques of gripping fiction to real-life stories to bring writing to life. Students can expect generative writing exercises, craft readings, the opportunity to be workshopped twice, and a one-on-one meeting with the instructor to discuss works-in-progress and writing goals. Writers who take this class will learn that nonfiction is not only the act of documenting reality, but also an act of construction.
- intensive peer and instructor feedback on two memoir submissions
- a framework for giving and receiving critiques
- one private conference with the instructor to discuss your writing style, goals, and areas for improvement
- the support of a nurturing community of writers and readers and access to an engaged mentor
- greater familiarity with contemporary nonfiction writing
- tips and tricks for animating your nonfiction
- exclusive access to our alumni newsletter, a monthly roundup of submission opportunities (prizes, residencies, lit mags, grants, and more), plus a 10% discount on all future classes
- more confidence as a writer, on and off the page
Elizabeth Greenwood is the author of PLAYING DEAD: A Journey Through the World of Death Fraud, a nonfiction book about people who have faked their deaths. Her writing has appeared in The Believer, Rhapsody, O Magazine, Guernica,VICE and the digital editions of The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Esquire. She has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Ucross Foundation, and the Norman Mailer Center, among others. She earned her MFA from Columbia University, where she teaches creative nonfiction.
"A delightful read for anyone tantalized by the prospect of disappearing without a trace."
"Ms. Greenwood leaps into an anecdote-filled history of — and rough primer for — erasing yourself. She shrewdly notes that our fascination with vanishing is only heightened by the ‘hypervisibility of our age.’… The fun in Greenwood’s book — much of it admittedly grim fun — is in learning the details."
"Exuberant and ironic, witty and compassionate, various and keenly-focused, PLAYING DEAD is eccentric investigative journalism. A terrific subject, where the deadly (excuse the pun) serious and absurdly comic meet and mesh."
"Quirky, engaging, and surprisingly uplifting... Elizabeth Greenwood has written a book about death, faked and real, that teaches us much about life."
"PLAYING DEAD marks the debut of a very talented author. Both the book and the writer are cause for celebration."
"Faking your own death is, in many ways, the greatest con of all — and Elizabeth Greenwood pulls it off with flair in this beguiling foray into the wacky yet somehow ever-fascinating realm of death fraud."
"Liz brings an enthusiasm and energy to the course that is rare and balances a deep well of knowledge across nonfiction. She’s insightful and real, giving helpful feedback without pulling punches."
"Prof. Greenwood is an excellent teacher. She knows what she is doing and stimulates and directs discussion extremely well. her attention to detail is amazing. Her ability to get to the heart of something and break it down is fantastic."