Writing True Stories That Matter

Writing True Stories That Matter

Turning research into narrative through creative nonfiction.

Researchers, policy wonks, grant writers, program managers, aspiring politicians, decision makers, and writers of all ages—everyone needs to know how to find and write a strong, effective, true story. That’s what Writing True Stories That Matter is all about, helping students and professionals transform research, experiences, and ideas into compelling nonfiction narratives so that readers are both educated and entertained.

To register or for more information, contact Sarah Geren at [email protected].

In this semester-long workshop, Lee Gutkind will proceed, step-by-step, through the entire writing true stories process, from finding the story to recreating scenes and building a scene-by-scene structure that is informative and cogent. Participants will learn how to read with a writer’s eye and recognize and utilize structural patterns. Literary techniques like dialog, flash descriptions, inner point of view, and the art of embedding information in story will be explained, illustrated, and practiced.

The skills and techniques developed in this class will be applicable to all forms of nonfiction—from long-form journalism, op-ed pieces, and speechwriting to book proposals, grant applications, and white papers. The course will begin with idea development—what you want to write about, the audience you are targeting, and the true story you want to tell—and your reasons for writing. There will be an overview of the creative nonfiction genre and, most importantly, of the craft—how to do what it is you will be doing for the entire semester. Writing process will also be discussed, along with the importance of keeping a regular schedule.


Writing True Stories That Matter is a workshop, with class discussion driving the learning and writing experience. Participants will read each other’s work and offer polite and honest responses. Gutkind will lead and monitor those discussions and provide timely lectures, adding information and insight along the way.

Published narratives will be deconstructed so that you will recognize how others bring together complicated subjects with multiple characters and intertwined ideas. The general legal, moral, and ethical challenges and quandaries that come to mind when fact is transformed into nonfiction narrative will be discussed.

Graduate-level class credits can be applied to a graduate degree at Arizona State University or transferred elsewhere. There will be networking opportunities with editors and agents, including Issues in Science and Technology, Creative Nonfiction, Slate, and others.

About Lee Gutkind

Recognized by Vanity Fair as “the Godfather behind creative nonfiction,” Gutkind is the author or editor of more than 35 books and founder and editor of Creative Nonfiction, the first and largest literary magazine to publish narrative nonfiction exclusively. He is Distinguished Writer-in-Residence in at the Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes at Arizona State University and a professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society.

Gutkind has lectured to audiences around the world—from China to the Czech Republic, from Australia to Africa to Egypt. He has presented “Writing True Stories” workshops in Washington, D.C. at the National Press Club and the National Academy of Sciences. He has appeared on many national radio and television shows, including The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central), Good Morning America, National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation and All Things Considered, as well as BBC World

Writing True Stories That Matter

Course HSD 598, class #32344

1800 I St NW, Washington, DC 20006 (Metro Stop: Farragut West)

Writing True Stories That Matter is designed for busy individuals, with high intensity leading to high productivity. The class mostly meets every other week, Thursday and Friday evenings, 6:00-9:00 PM at the new Arizona State University Washington, DC Center from January 10 through April 26, 2019. See the schedule below.

For more information about Writing True Stories That Matter, please contact Sarah Geren, teaching assistant ([email protected]), or Lee Gutkind ([email protected]).


  • January 10-11
  • January 17-18
  • January 31-February 1
  • February 14-15
  • February 28-March 1
  • March 14-15
  • April 4-5
  • April 18-19

Course Cost

The cost of this 3-credit graduate course is $3,738. There is also an application fee for new students.

To Register

If you are currently an ASU student, go to my.asu.edu to register for HSD 598, class #32344.

If you are not currently an ASU student, you must first become a non-degree seeking graduate student. The process is quick and easy:

  • Go to https://webapp4.asu.edu/dgsadmissions/Index.jsp. Then follow these linked directions to register as a Non-Degree Graduate Student.
  • In approximately 48 hours, you will receive an email confirming your non-degree status admission.
  • Before you can register for the class, you must submit proof of two MMR vaccinations.  The necessary form and instructions on how to submit your vaccination records are available here.
  • You can then log into your newly established account (my.asu.edu). At the bottom of the “My Classes” box, click on “Registration”, “Add”, then search for class #32344. That will add Writing True Stories That Matter to your “cart” and finish the registration process.