Menu Sian Prior

Writer, Broadcaster, Singer, MC & Teacher

Advanced Creative Non Fiction course begins May 13th [March 23]

I have designed a new six-part online Advanced Creative Non Fiction course which builds on the content covered in my Creative Non Fiction course.

The course runs from May 13th to June 17th and the cost is $420 ($360 concession). Classes are from 6:30 to 8:30, via Zoom, and you will also receive some individual private feedback from me on your writing during the course. Please contact me via the Contact page of this website for information about how to enrol. (The next course begins on October 12th)

Week One – Making your personal essays resonate

How do we make the ‘personal’ relevant to our readers in personal essays?

Great personal essays are pieces of personal narrative non fiction writing, often written from the ‘I’ perspective, in which we can all recognise our own humanity because of their universal themes. The writer reveals their own thoughts, observations, memories and feelings, owning up to them as their own, rather than presenting them through a fictional character, as they might if they were writing a short story or a novel. We will look at how to make sure your personal stories will resonate with a broad readership. 

Week Two – Working with rhythm and texture in your writing

We will look at how to use a more interesting and varied approach to creating texture (including lengths of paragraphs, lengths of sentences, etc.) and how to employ rhythm in your writing. 

Week Three – Playing with form and content

Creative non fiction offers many avenues for being playful with form as a way of reflecting and communicating content, even when your content is quite serious. Found texts, redacted texts, listicles, collage, fantasy, braided and discontinuous narratives are just some of the forms we will explore in this class.  

Week Four – Writing authentic dialogue

Dialogue is a fantastic tool to use in creative non fiction writing, especially when it comes to

moving the ‘plot’ along, revealing important aspects of character, and ‘showing’ rather than ’telling’ your reader what’s going on. What people say often conveys their character to others in ways of which they – the speakers – are completely unaware. The key to writing good dialogue is honesty – you don’t want your reader thinking ‘that person would NEVER say something like that’. We will look at some examples of effective dialogue in non fiction writing. 

Week Five – Structuring your writing projects

There is no ‘correct’ or ‘perfect’ structure for your CNF project – there are many options, and in the end you will need to choose one. An editor may then come along and ask you to choose another. Flexibility is important. It may take you some time to find the right structure. Finding a structure that works for you will depend in part on what kind of non-fiction project you’re writing: is it primarily a memoir or biography? Is it an informative book? Is it a book that presents an argument? Is it a blend of genres? Is it a playful book, in which case can/should your structure be playful? Is it a collection of essays or articles – in which case, how should they be grouped? Is there a logical order? We will look at some options for you to consider in structuring your story.

Week Six – How to begin and how to end

Finding an engaging opening for your story is sometimes the hardest part of writing. And yet it is also the most important. A reader will decide very quickly whether it is worth their time/energy continuing to read your writing. You need to offer them something – or promise them something – at the beginning within a very few words. You probably only have a paragraph or two to get their attention and/or engage them emotionally in your story. We will look at some techniques you can use to work out the best way to start – and the best way to finish.