Creative Nonfiction: Write Truth with Style

Susan Orlean, Staff Writer, The New Yorker

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15 Videos (1h 49m)
    • Trailer

      1:34
    • Introduction

      6:43
    • Subject: Finding Your Topic

      9:35
    • Subject: Finding "The American Male at Age Ten"

      7:15
    • Research: Preparing for Reporting

      9:10
    • Research: Reporting

      9:16
    • Research: Organizing Notes

      9:59
    • Writing: Elements of a Story

      9:41
    • Writing: Dialogue and Quotes

      6:02
    • Writing: Description

      4:45
    • Writing: Expert Opinion

      3:16
    • Writing: Conclusions

      10:07
    • Editing: Revising

      9:58
    • Editing: Collaborating

      3:08
    • The Ongoing Work of a Writer

      8:51

About This Class

The rise of sites like Medium and Longreads have inspired a resurgence in creative nonfiction—that compelling, leisurely writing that weaves true ideas and characters into stories that reveal as much about its readers as its subject. But where do those stories come from? And how do they work?

In this class, Susan Orlean, best-selling author and longtime New Yorker staff writer, walks us through her writing process for transforming ordinary subjects into exceptional stories. She reveals how she prepares to write, takes a close look at her classic Esquire piece “The American Male at Age Ten,” and delves into why curiosity, revision, and collaboration are at the heart of being a writer.

In under two hours, this class demystifies the writing craft so that you can write a short and unforgettable profile of your own. Whether you’re an active writer, aspiring freelancer, or simply curious about the power of language, this class will help you navigate and polish the creative process of telling your best story.

201 of 202 students recommendSee All

Susan, I just have to thank you for giving so much content and explanation to the process of writing and your specific process. I listened all the way through the class and was feeling so engaged with you! It felt like you were just sitting at the breakfast counter and talking to me while I made dinner - just 2 old friends. Thanks for such a good class.
Excellent review of the writing process.
This is one of the most well-presented classes on writing non-fiction. Susan delivers the class in an easy to follow format, from beginning to end. It starts off with an introduction to creative non-fiction, then it moves on to introduce the student to the subject, then to how to start a non-fiction project, where to get ideas for your story, researching your story, organizing your ideas, structuring your story, thinking about your general topic and getting to know your story deep down. Susan then introduces the student to the art of writing description, opinion, and revising. When you are done with this class, you will have a thorough understanding of non-fiction writing and will have acquired the tools to begin your story.

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Susan Orlean

Staff Writer, The New Yorker

Susan Orlean is an acclaimed American journalist. She has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1992, and has contributed articles to Rolling StoneVogue, and Esquire. She is the author of eight books, including The Orchid Thief (later adapted into Spike Jonze's Adaptation, in which Meryl Streep portrayed Orlean) and the New York Times bestseller Rin Tin Tin.

She was a 2004 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. In 2012, she received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Michigan. She has served as a judge for many literary prizes, including the National Book Awards, the Bellevue Literary Prize, and the Iowa Review Awards.

Susan divides her time between Los Angeles and New York. Her Twitter bio reads "Writer, writer, writer. Oh, I also write."