New Class!

The Narrative Personal Essay 101: Providence

Sunday, February 19th, from 10:00am-5:00pm
231 Douglas Ave., Providence, R.I. 02908
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Level: For Everyone
Adult (18+)
12 seats max

What makes a good topic for a narrative personal essay? How do you focus your ideas, memories, and experiences into a coherent form and make sure you’re telling a story? In this six-hour seminar, we'll look for models and inspiration in essays by Sherman Alexie, Junot Diaz, Emily Rapp, Cheryl Strayed, Grace Talusan, and Brady Udall, and other examples from literary magazines and commercial publications such as the New York Times's “Modern Love” and Salon's ”Life.” We'll examine typical structures for how to build your personal essay around key scenes and passages of reflection and backstory, and begin to map out a structure for your essay. You'll identify the narrative arc or "plot" for your essay, and look at strategies to develop characters—both the character of yourself and others. We'll look at how to craft powerful scenes and vivid description, and discuss how time travel, pacing, and narrative order can hook readers from the first paragraph. In-class writing exercises will allow us to put these concepts into practice, and you'll leave with an outline and several passages toward a first draft.

Note: This class takes place at Providence College/ Smith Hill Annex, 231 Douglas Ave., Providence, R.I. 02908 (not the main Providence College campus). Street parking is available in front of the building on Douglas Avenue, or on any side streets.  Parking behind the building is for residents only and persons in need of handicap accessible parking spots.


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Ethan Gilsdorf
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  • Class Discussion
  • In-Class Reading
  • Lecture
  • Instructor Feedback
  • In-Class Writing
  • Craft Lessons
  • In-Class Writing Prompts
  • Generate New Work


  • Literary Journalism

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