Kathryn Aalto has taught journalism, creative/narrative nonfiction, research paper writing and American Literature of Nature and Place at the university and college level for more than 20 years. This includes the Lawrence Hall of Science, Western Washington University, Everett Community College and the University of Plymouth and summer programs including Winchester Writers’ Conference and Swanwick Writers’ Summer School.

The Art of Narrative Nonfiction. Narrative nonfiction, known as creative nonfiction or literary nonfiction, is the fastest-growing area in publishing today, joining excellent research with compelling, character-driven storytelling that reads like a novel. True stories told well, narrative nonfiction is fact-based story-telling that makes people want to keep reading, and is achieved through creating a narrative persona, setting scenes, crafting careful sentence and paragraphs with rhythm, and developing a strong sense of place to the purpose of journalism.  Learn to apply key storytelling techniques that hook the reader’s imagination to make nonfiction come alive. Kathryn provides an overview of the genre, insightful exercises to help find your own voice and ways to revise your current writing projects. You will leave the course with ample inspiration to develop a new or existing idea in a style that is distinctively your own. Full, half-day, or week-long creative nonfiction seminars available.

Writing Winning Book Proposals. Join Kathryn as she discusses approaches for crafting a winning nonfiction book proposal. Along with explaining what acquisition editors want, topics also include developing a well-honed hook, how to do comprehensive market analysis, and how to present yourself as an author, amongst other topics. A lively and informative lecture, the session will also provide students with an understanding of what approaches Kathryn uses to craft winning proposals. Her proposal to Timber Press, the world’s most prestigious gardening, horticultural and natural history press, developed into the lead title in Autumn 2015 and led to glowing editorial reviews, features in Top 25 American magazines, invitations to literary festivals and a book launch at The New York Public Library. Half-day or short-course.

Research for Writers. Nothing beats writing that transports readers to another place and time. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, details shoot writing into the stratosphere with spot-on jargon and irreplaceable authenticity. What adds this rich layer to writing is research — that is, any process of looking at documented content outside the self: articles, books, interviews, guided travel, archival footage, immersion — and is anything that introduces to your text external accountability.  This talk is about joyfully enhancing the creative potential in any genre. Kathryn will discuss how research does not need to take a backseat to imagination, but can be a writer’s engine and tool: the pursuit of detail and authenticity can drive and shape your narratives and writing outlook. For Kathryn, it has led her to the Hawaiian Islands to retrace the footsteps of the world’s greatest plant hunter. It has led to interviews with Japanese fountaineers, white-gloved photo archivists, and local barflies. It has led to donning historical costumes to understand their weight and feel. Learn how research can provide you with boundaries, give your narrative form, and establish authority.  Kathryn will also share how research shapes her work from the planning to final stages.

Nature Writing Workshop/American Literature of Nature and Place. One of the most distinctive genres in American literature, nature writing is also one of its oldest traditions yet receiving great critical attention. Join Kathryn as she introduces you to the best American nature writing and ways it differs from British nature writing. She discusses the diverse voices and concerns of nature writers citing Thoreau, Burroughs, Muir, Leopold, Carson, Eiseley, Bass, Beston and others.  A practical aspect of the seminar can be added for those who want to begin the art and practice of writing about nature called “Your Place in the World.” Full or half-day seminar.

Wild Women Writers. Women who write about the wild cannot be boxed or easily labeled. They are conservationists, scientists, and explorers; historians, poets, and novelists; ramblers, scholars, and spiritual seekers. They are hard to pin down but for their willingness to be “unlady-like,” to question, and to seek. They record their findings and feelings in particular places, often preserving records of vanishing landscapes along the way. Some of the writers in this list, such as Susan Fenimore Cooper and Nan Shepherd, have been underappreciated until recently. Others have been underrepresented, especially women of color whose relationships with nature and place can be more fraught. Join Kathryn for a lecture on the contribution of women in the field of nature writing. 

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