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.

(Click here for registration information, or download the full course description here.) 

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.

Writing True Stories That Matter

Course HSD 598, class #30179 – ASU-DC Location
Course HSD 598, class #30177 – ASU-Tempe Location

Writing True Stories That Matter is designed for busy individuals, with high intensity leading to high productivity. The class meets every other week, Thursday and Friday evenings, 6:00-9:00 PM at the new Arizona State University Washington, DC Center (or, via Vidyo, from 4:00-7:00 PM at the Tempe campus), from January 11 through April 27, 2018.

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

Course Cost

The cost of this 3-credit graduate course is $3,864. 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 #30177.

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://students.asu.edu/graduate/nondegree. This web page links to the ASU Graduate Admissions application. Note: you must register as a Non-Degree Graduate, ASU Graduate College – Tempe. (This is not an online course; do not choose ASU Online.)
  • In approximately 48 hours, you will receive an email confirming your non-degree status admission.
  • 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 HSD 598, class #30179. That will add Writing True Stories That Matter to your “cart” and finish the registration process.