Creative Nonfiction Crash Course // In-Person

Creative Nonfiction Crash Course // In-Person

Everything you need to know to start writing your true story

If novels are fiction and poems are, well, poetry, then what are memoirs? What about essays, narrative journalism, and so many of the true stories that we love?

From books to magazine articles to podcasts, creative nonfiction stories surround us. This seminar will introduce you to the history of the genre and show you how to use the building blocks of creative nonfiction—including scene, character, dialogue, and reflection—to write your own true stories. No writing experience is necessary.

During this workshop you will:

  • LEARN about the history and scope of creative nonfiction;
  • DISCOVER the genre through a variety of examples;
  • EXPLORE the building blocks of telling great true stories; and
  • BEGIN writing a piece of creative nonfiction.

This workshop is designed for writers from all backgrounds.

Saturday, June 22, 2019
1 pm - 4 pm

Advance registration strongly recommended.
The workshop is limited to 25 students.

$25 if registered by 6/17/2019 
$35 if registered after 6/17/2019

A copy of True Stories, Well Told  and a highlighter is included in the price of registration.

Can't join us in Pittsburgh? There's a webinar option available as well. 

Schedule Overview


What is Creative Nonfiction?

The opening presentation will serve as an introduction to creative nonfiction. We'll start by exploring what the terms "creative" and "nonfiction" mean separately -- and what they mean together. You will learn about the history of the genre while exploring a variety of creative nonfiction excerpts ti get a sense of the contemporary scope of the genre.

You will also learn about the different layers present in personal writing. We'll look at Vivian Gornick's terms "the situation" (what happened) and "the story" (what it means). Next we'll identify the building blocks of CNF: scene and reflection, applying Lee Gutkid's "yellow test" to an analysis of several passages to understand how scenes (and moments of reflection) work to build a world rich with detail and meaning on the page.

The presentation will end with a Q & A


Writing Personal Stories

We will have fun putting some words onto the page in an easygoing, accessible writing session. You'll spend time writing to a variety of prompts meant to help you discover the kind of stories you may want ot write after class ends. There will be time for you to share your work (if you wish to) and to discuss and ask questions about common challenges of the writing process.

Jennifer (Jenna) McGuiggan's essays have appeared in the Rappahannock Review, Essay Daily, Flycatcher, New World Writing, and on the blogs of Prairie Schooner and Brevity. Her work has been nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology and chosen as a finalist in contests from Prime Number Magazine, Hunger Mountain, and the Orison Anthology. Jenna received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is currently writing a book of linked essays that explore longing and belonging, from where we live to what we believe. 

Questions? Please call us at 412-404-2975 or email the director of education, Sharla Yates, at