March 15, 2018
8 Weeks | $315
Remember those dull, fact-filled books that filled your school library when you were a kid? The ones where you looked up a subject in the index and then only read the page that had the information you needed. You never sat down with those books and read them cover to cover. You got what you needed and you used them to pad the bibliography for your report.
But nowadays, some of the most exciting and gripping reading being published for kids is nonfiction. It’s called Creative Nonfiction, and it has taken hold of the publishing world. It’s popular with teachers and librarians. But most importantly, it’s popular with kids!
Writers are tackling subjects from the underwater world of giant squids to the horrific history of Stalinist Russia. They’re writing biographies of unheralded women in history and under- recognized men and women of color. They’re writing about science and nature. They’re writing about inventions. There’s really no limit. Writers are taking new, creative approaches to old subjects and bringing them to life.
In this class we’ll look at a variety of published books to get a sense of what’s out there. We’ll talk about how to find an idea and what to do with it once you’ve got it. We’ll cover research—how to do it and how to know when you’ve done enough. We’ll look at audience. Who is your book for? How do you know? Should it be a picture book? A chapter book? Or something longer.
And we’ll look at voice. What is it? How do you find the voice for your subject, be it a picture book biography or a complex work for young adult readers?
Finally. we’ll talk a bit about marketing. How do you find a publishing home for your finished manuscript.
Throughout, you will be able to post your work for critique. There will also be space for ongoing discussions of issues you are having with your work in progress.
So join us! Let’s explore the possibilities!
Week 1: Introduction and welcome
Let’s get to know each other. Tell us a bit about yourself. What is it you’d like to get out of this class? What kind of writing have you done? What are you working on now?
Week 2: Research, research, research!
You have an idea. Now what? This week will talk about how to find information about your subject. What resources are reliable? What’s the difference between a primary and a secondary source? How do you find experts? How do you conduct an effective interview, either with an expert or with your subject?
Week 3: Framing your story.
What do you want your readers to know? We’ll look at beginnings. How does an author hook a reader with that opening paragraph or two? How can you make sure you’re doing everything you can to get your readers as excited about your subject as you are?
Week 4: Just the facts?
When do you insert your opinions into your work? What do you do if a vital piece of information is simply missing? We’ll look at how some authors have handled this, and we’ll talk about ways to tackle the problem in your own work.
Week 5: To outline or not to outline.
We’re talking about how to write exciting nonfiction. Is the old fashioned outline the way to go? How do you keep track of where you’re going? How do you know what’s missing from your research and what you still need to know? We’ll share our methods for organizing our thoughts and our notes.
Week 6: Voice. It’s not just for fiction anymore.
We’ll talk about what voice is why it matters, especially in creative nonfiction. We’ll take a look at some books with very different voices and talk about how the authors achieved the effects they achieved.
Week 7: The End.
How do you know where to stop? You will always find more information that you can use. Every bit of research you do will turn up another bit. How many rabbit holes do you go down? And what do you do with those fascinating bits of information you’ve gathered that just don’t seem to fit anywhere? What do you include and what do you need to let go?
Week 8: Marketing.
You’ve got a completed manuscript. Now what? We’ll look at the market. Who is publishing what? How do you put together a query that will knock an editor’s socks off? Is approaching an editor the place to put your creative nonfiction skills to work? Let’s talk about it.
This class was truly informative and inspiring–one of the best I've taken. Jane is a terrific teacher, very attentive, kind and encouraging with the ability to see the story broadly in context of the market as well as zeroing in on the details that make the story and characters work. As an aspiring picture book author I felt this class was a safe place to share my work while getting valuable feedback and lots of encouragement from Jane's thoughtful and thorough critiques. I also enjoyed the conversations about published picture books and other articles from the reading list. A great experience that I would highly recommend to others. I look forward to coming back for another class. Renee Burke
I was very happy with this course and with Jane Buchanan. She added material, as in reading [and] links, that were really interesting and helpful... I felt she pushed my understanding along and gave me tools to work with. She gave us lots of places to connect to..all really helpful. I thought she was one of the best that I have taken and I have done a few! Paula Mcevenue