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Special Topics in Nonfiction

Taking Imaginative License in Creative Nonfiction

Friday, November 6th, 10:00am-5:00pm
Remote (Live Zoom Meetings)
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Level: For Everyone
Adult (18+)
12 seats max

Creative nonfiction writers are not necessarily journalists. When facts elude them, they often take liberties in their work—building scenes from imagination, wondering about the motives and thoughts of others, and doing what essayist Lisa Knopp calls “perhapsing”:  speculating openly on the page. Of course, these techniques can be risky. When do such narrative leaps become irresponsible or unethical? How far can you push into the realm of possibility before you lose a reader’s trust? What’s the difference between exploring unknowns and lying? In this six-hour seminar, we’ll grapple with these issues, interrogating common wisdom about the genre and questioning what it means to tell “true” stories. We’ll do in-class exercises to press beyond what we know, and read and discuss excerpts by writers who blur the line (often controversially) between fiction and fact, such as Jo Ann Beard, John D’Agata, and Hilton Als.  You’ll leave with a sense of the genre’s flexibility and a new freedom in your work. 

Part of GrubStreet's Special Topics in the Nonfiction, a group of classes dedicated to exploring different craft elements of creative nonfiction. For more class offerings, click here.


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Dorian Fox
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Previous Students Say

  • "High-Energy Class"
  • "Great for Newbies"
  • "Diverse Reading Assignments"


  • Generate New Work
  • Get Feedback
  • In-Class Writing Prompts
  • Craft Lessons
  • In-Class Writing
  • Instructor Feedback
  • Workshop
  • Lecture
  • In-Class Reading
  • Class Discussion
  • Concept Development


  • The Novel
  • Book-Length Memoir
  • Personal Essay

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Learn more
In Pursuit of Uncertainty: Working with the Unknown in Nonfiction
read more
Creative Nonfiction II
read more
Creative Nonfiction I
read more