Learn how to write creative nonfiction
- 7-9:30 PM GMT every other Monday
- Oct 10/24, Nov 7/21, Dec 5/19, Jan 3*/16
- Eight 2.5 hour sessions
- 15-min tea break midway through class
- Detailed feedback on all writing
- Limited to 14 people
- Tuition: £650
* Class meets on the Tuesday of this week due to holidays
“Kathryn’s workshops are absolute troves of clear, thoughtfully presented material. She seamlessly blends engaging and foundational readings, compelling lecture, and meaningful workshopping. What I was most blown away by, though, was her fierce dedication to each participant’s journey – meeting each one of us where we were and guiding us further along in our writing path. From handwritten feedback to answering questions after hours, Kathryn really went above and beyond to ensure our growth and success.”
Kimberley, Atlanta, Georgia
At long last, an expansion of what you have learned in The Art of Narrative Nonfiction (Level I). Small and bi-weekly, with a teacher who knows your work and wants you to succeed, this creative nonfiction writing course takes your works-in-progress to the next level. Learn how to write creative nonfiction with greater depth and flavour, expanding your outlines, and adding parallel narratives where you can.
Level II provides you with everything that has helped to shape your writing practice and to create a body of work: structure, guidance, support, feedback, friendship, and accountability. Whether an essay collection or book-length manuscript, your writing will be further enriched and expanded through lectures, discussions, workshops, and writing prompts. While the pace and space are familiar, the focus will more honed and less broad. Lectures and discussions will focus on points of plot, narrative arc, and character development to enrich your work. Attention will also be paid to the clarity of your language and enhancing your distinctive writing voice.
We will read outstanding creative nonfiction and — fingers crossed — one of the authors may be joining us as a guest speaker. (Surprise — not George Orwell.)
Workshops are expanded in length to provide you with the outstanding feedback you value. In-class reflective writing will be raw and go into the marrow to deepen your understanding of yourself as a mindful writer. Most importantly, the range of writing you can submit per session increases to 8-12 pages. This will allow you to add nearly 100 pages to your works-in-progress during the course.
Special Guest Speakers
- Nov 7: Sarah Kaufman, author of The Art of Grace: On Moving Well Through Life and Pulitzer Prize-winning dance critic at The Washington Post
- Nov 21: Elena Passarello, professor of creative nonfiction at the University of Oregon, winner of the Whiting Award for creative nonfiction, and author of two books, Let Me Clear My Throat and Animals Strike Curious Poses.
If you have not taken a course with Kathryn Aalto before, but have written creative nonfiction, you are most welcome to apply with a writing sample. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org with a sample of 4-6 pages.
- Expand your works-in-progress
- Develop your distinct writing voice
- Articulate the plot and arc of your essays and story
- Deepen and develop characters with the Iceberg Principle
- Craft dialogue and understand its importance in advancing action
- Craft vivid scenes that put readers into the action and storytelling moments
- Let Me Clear My Throat: Essays by Elena Passarello
- Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
- The Art of Grace: On Moving Well Through Life by Sarah Kaufman
- Draft No. 4 by John McPhee
- The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr
- The Writing Life by Annie Dillard
- The Science of Storytelling by Will Storr
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
- “Omission: Choosing What to Leave Out” by John McPhee
- Best American Science and Nature Writing 2021 edited by Ed Yong
- The Elements of Style by Strunk and White illustrated by Maira Kalman
- The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human by Jonathan Gottschall
- Writing Wild: Women Poets, Ramblers, and Mavericks Who Shake How We See the Natural World by Kathryn Aalto
No matter your subject or style, you will find a great writing community. All of Kathryn’s courses are characterised by a warm sense of fellowship and accountability, which will keep you focused on your writing goals.
- Brief social time (10-15 min)
- A reading or a writing prompt (5-10 min)
- Review of previous lessons (2-10 min)
- Lecture (25-30 min)
- Writing prompt (10 min)
- Break (15 min)
- Discussion (30 min)
- Writing workshop* (40 min)
- Q&A and review for next class (5-10 min)
*Papers are shared in a Google Drive two days before class. Students are assigned small groups of 4-5. Writing workshops are excellent opportunities to hear how your writings lands on others. While this can feel scary at first — most people are not used to hearing live and immediate feedback on their work — initial discomfort wanes. Students find this component of class exceptionally valuable.
- Payment plans for tuition are available. Just drop a line to email@example.com.
- Upon payment, you will receive two emails:1) an automatic payment confirmation 2) a personal email with a Zoom link and course syllabus.
Read more testimonials here.
“I have been making my living with journalistic texts for four years now. Tied to my desk due to the pandemic I decided it was time to take my writing to another level and enrolled in The Art of Narrative Nonfiction. Being skeptical of virtual courses at first, I was immediately drawn into the group by her professional and yet entertaining moderation of the weekly online gatherings. With an attractive mix of lecture, discussion, workshop and personal tutoring she enabled us to not only profit from her vast experience as a writer but also to open up our pieces to our peers from various cultural backgrounds. I’ll definitely be back for more.”
Johannes A., Cologne, Germany
“Margaret Atwood said ‘If you really want to write, and you’re struggling to get started, you’re afraid of something.’ Kathryn fixes those nagging fears by showing writers what we have that is already good, and what we can do better tomorrow. It’s win-win, and she remakes a traditional “class” into such an enjoyable, productive journey. I’ve also been lucky enough to experience the awe-inspiring surroundings and warm community that form the bedrock of the Rural Writing Institute. It’s not often that you can genuinely say that one long weekend shifted the way you look at the world, but the effects are still with me in my reading and writing years later.”
Caroline, Aberdeen, Scotland
“After six months of working with Kathryn–which is a bit like entering the space of a handwritten letter, what with her sharp aesthetic sense, far-ranging intelligence, wit, and curiosity–I’ve made tangible progress on an unwieldy, long-form project I was struggling to articulate. I came to her Memoir and Life Writing class for accountability, and came away having experienced the kind of support, writing insight, and real feeling of friendship that can be difficult to find in a workshop environment. Kathryn fostered a warm, charming atmosphere in class (a real feat online), allowing for life-long connections to develop among our group of writers. She cares about the arc of her student’s writing lives–a form of attention that encourages artistic growth and positive risk-taking. She not only brought her years of writing and publishing experience to class and to our bi-monthly writing assignments (her personal feedback, often handwritten, is invaluable), she also brought her unique perspective. Writer-gardener-historians are, I think, particularly adept at imagining the possibilities for a piece, no matter your subject. Kathryn pushed me to dig deeper, moving my writing in new directions. No matter where one is in their writing life, working with Kathryn will be an experience of profound joy, insight, and artistic deepening.”
Veronica, Portland, Oregon
Kathryn Aalto’s teaching philosophy is focused on encouraging a uniquely personal exploration of narrative nonfiction. At its core, she believes teaching is about responding to each student, whether they are an emerging writer or writing beyond the level of content mastery. She cultivates a mindful and supportive learning environment that fosters personal expression, critical thinking, and individual artistic growth in the literary arts. Learn how to write creative nonfiction with a hands-on and experienced teacher.
Kathryn Aalto is a passionate practitioner and teacher of narrative nonfiction. For more than twenty-five years, she has taught writing and literature courses at colleges and universities including Western Washington University, Everett Community College, and Plymouth University and has given guest lectures at Cambridge University, Vanderbilt University, Cornell University, and more. She has a global mentoring practice and thriving online writing courses, and leads in-person retreats, courses, and workshops in the United States and United Kingdom.