Toying with The Truth: A Generative Nonfiction Workshop

with Shelby Hinte

Toying with the truth generative nonfiction workshop

May 8, 2024
8 Weeks


Zoom sessions Wednesdays from 7-9 PM Eastern

$465.00Enroll Now

How to tell the stories of our lives? The way you choose to tell your personal stories can help you get to the heart of what you want to share. 

In this course, we will experiment with a variety of creative nonfiction forms, and you will discover the best way to tell your personal stories. Through in-class readings, writings, and discussion, you will work towards finding the form that best suits the personal story you are trying to write.

We will explore a variety of creative nonfiction containers, from found essays and lists to the braided essay and memoir. We will look to writers such as Melissa Febos, Chris Kraus, Zadie Smith, Sean Enfield, and Vauhini Vara to help guide and inspire our own writing.

Each week, you will write one short creative nonfiction work inspired by the weekly readings and prompts. You will have time in class to write. Because this is a generative course, you are not expected to produce polished drafts of writing; instead, you are invited to experiment, play, and share material.

You will also receive constructive feedback from me and your peers on weekly writing assignments, and you will provide brief written feedback on up to 2 manuscripts shared by your peers. In our feedback, we will identify key moments in your drafts that you can use as gateways for deeper exploration of your writing.

In the final two weeks of this course, you will work toward revising a piece of your choosing into a more polished second draft.

Who This Course is For:

  • New writers looking for an introduction to creative nonfiction forms, and more experienced writers looking to try different approaches to writing creative nonfiction.
  • Ideal for writers who want to produce new material and receive feedback on their work in a more casual environment than traditional workshop models.

Learning and Writing Goals 

Learning Goals

In this course, you will learn: 

  • About a variety of creative nonfiction forms.
  • Core craft elements of nonfiction storytelling.
  • How to instill curiosity and play in your writing practice.

Writing Goals

In this course, you will:

  • Locate and outline events from personal experience that you would like to shape into creative nonfiction.
  • Generate multiple first drafts of personal writing.
  • Select one draft of a new creative work to revise and polish.

Zoom Schedule

Class will meet once a week on Wednesdays from 7-9 PM Eastern via Zoom. 

Weekly Syllabus

Week One: Who We Are – Introduction to CNF

In our first week together we will consider how we fill our creative wells in order to produce written personal works. Writers will create a list of stories from their own lives they are interested in writing, and we will investigate the creative blocks that are common in writing about the self.

Readings for this week include work by Melissa Febos.

Week Two: Filling The Creative Well – Found Essays & Lists

So much of writing is about observing and noticing. Exercises will focus on taking stock, making inventories, and collecting textual material. As such, week one emphasizes creating a practice around taking what we notice and putting it to the page.

Readings this week include works by Sennah Yee, Juliet Escoria, and Brandon Stosuy.

Week 3: Write What You Know – Memoir

In week three, we will begin with what we have: ourselves and our stories. Writers will examine the events, ideas, and experiences from their own lives that they feel most compelled to write about. Exercises this week will focus on turning memory into story.

Readings this week include works by Sarah Rauch, Jane Alison, and Vauhini Vara.

Week 4: Developing Images – The Essay as Portrait

How do we make ourselves and the people in our lives become as authentic on the page as they are in real life? How the frame we choose to present people in impact the way they are perceived? What happens when we change the frame? In week four, writers will create portrait essays of themselves or others. The focus will be on details and perspective.

Readings this week include works by Zadie Smith, C Pam Zhang, and Timothy Willis Sanders.

Week 5: Textures – The Braided Essay

In our everyday lives we are exposed to a constant stream of media: music, film, advertisements, headlines, literature, and more. These things can serve as backdrops to our day or be things that filter into how we act and think. In week five, writers will attempt to weave in materials from their lives, to create more textured narratives.

Readings for this week include works by Sean Enfield and Lidia Yuknavitch.

Week 6: Tell it Slant – Autofiction

In Mary Karr’s book On Memoir, she writes about personal truth through the example of a family telling stories at the dinner table. She remarks how common it is that members of a collective experience can disagree so thoroughly on the details of an event. This week, writers will imagine into the events of their lives and explore how intentionally taking creative liberty with the “facts” might reveal certain emotional truths of their stories.

Readings for this week include works by Julie Myerson and Chris Kraus.

Week 7: Revision

In our penultimate week we will reimagine revision. Writers will take stock of what they’ve written so far and reflect on the forms that felt most authentic to their voice and story. Through creative revision exercises, writers will generate a second draft of a previously completed work.

Week 8: Revealing the Self

In our final week together, writers will share revised drafts of a single piece of writing from an earlier session.

$465.00Enroll Now

Course type:

Student Feedback for Shelby Hinte:

Shelby is a fantastic teacher! She brings meaningful and encouraging information as well as helpful tools to consider. Shelby listens for the hidden gold in the assignments that I submitted. I really appreciated her input. Jamie Leat

May 8, 2024
8 Weeks


Zoom sessions Wednesdays from 7-9 PM Eastern

$465.00Enroll Now

Shelby Hinte


Shelby Hinte has led writing workshops at San Francisco State University, The Writing Salon, and in the community, including teaching creative writing to incarcerated adults and to youth on juvenile probation. She is the Associate Editor of Write or Die Magazine and a prose reader for No Contact. She has volunteered and interned with various presses including ZYZZYVA and Split/Lip. Her writing has been featured in BOMB, The Rumpus, ZYZZYVA, SmokeLong Quarterly, and elsewhere. She lives in Northern California.