Creative Non-Fiction Writing for the Rhetoric Stage

Course Description


Single-semester course (Fall only). A semester-long workshop designed to introduce students to the craft and techniques of creative nonfiction. Students will explore the origins of creative nonfiction while practicing their own writing within the genre. In particular, students will read personal essays, both canonical and contemporary, that exemplify remarkable use of description, narration, characterization, openings, endings, and tension. The readings are aimed at developing the students’ own writing practice. The focus throughout is on identifying and applying specific prose techniques. As such, the course includes frequent short writing assignments, as well as two personal essays—the Memoir and Abecedarium. The Abecedarium Essay, as a form, requires short entries for each letter of the alphabet and challenges the writer to weave together several threads to form a coherent whole. One of these essays will be revised and lengthened into the Extended Essay. As well, the student will keep a notebook for responding to short writing prompts.

Example Syllabus (Download the PDF)

Required Text:

  • Moore, Dinty. Crafting the Personal Essay: A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative Nonfiction. Cincinnati: Writer’s Digest Books, 2010. ISBN 9781582977966
  • Lopate, Phillip. The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present. New York: Anchor Books, 1994. ISBN 9780385422987
  • Jones, Jeff P. Writing for the Reader: Practice in Prose Craft. Moscow, Idaho: Troika Press, 2018. ISBN 9781980708148

Class meets once per week for 50-55 minutes.

Class cap: 15 students.

Designed for grades 10-12.

Students in grades 9-12 may be awarded .5 Language Arts credit upon completion of this course. Course may be listed as “Advanced Creative Writing” on the transcript.