Monday, August 29, 2011

New Class: Writing a Nonfiction Book

Starting September 22, I will be teaching a four-session course on writing a nonfiction book. Classes will be held at the San Francisco Writers' Grotto: 490 2nd Street (corner of Bryant), San Francisco. The details can be found here. The full description is below.

As the course description makes clear, this class offers an overview. We'll be focusing both on the craft and art of writing, and the mechanics of getting published—book proposals, agents, publishers, even photo rights, if we get to it. If the course is well attended, I'll likely follow up with a Master Class in nonfiction long-form writing in the spring. It will be more of a workshop, in which we critique and discuss each class member's writing in depth.

So, loyal reader, what does this mean for you? I'll be using this blog to prepare members for the class. This doesn't mean you can use it for a free class, but you can get an idea what each session will cover, and see what the readings I assign. The readings will be from both books on writing (E.M. Forsters's Aspects of the Novel and David Lodge's The Art of Fiction, for example—both very useful for nonfiction writers too), and from successful and unsuccessful examples of nonfiction narratives.

It may not be what you want from this blog, but it's better than nothing. I just moved to a new apartment, so I haven't written at all for this blog for a month. The apartment is in sight of my old home, but the packing and unpacking is no less time-consuming. At least I'll be back online again.

Here's that course description:

Writing a Nonfiction Book, from Inspiration to Publication

Instructor: T. J. Stiles
Number of sessions: 4  Meeting time: Thursday evenings, 6:30-9; September 22 – October 13

Course fee: $295.00 Spots reserved with $100 deposit. Class size limited to 15 Students
DescriptionIn four sessions, a Pulitzer-winning author and veteran of ten years in the publishing industry will discuss the challenges of writing and publishing a long-form nonfiction narrative. In each session, we’ll explore a different aspect of the process—from initial idea to polishing a manuscript to the mechanics of getting published—discussing successful and unsuccessful examples, essays by noted critics, and questions raised by class members concerning their own projects.
We’ll examine how to
• define your project for yourself and a potential publisher
• structure the book
• integrate research into a narrative without stopping it cold
• understand how vivid you can be without slipping into fiction
• refine your style and perfect your storytelling
• draft a book proposal and work with agents and publishers
Students are welcome to ask for feedback on specific pieces of writing or publishing issues (such as framing a book proposal)—though you need not have an ongoing project to take the course
Instructor Bio: T.J. Stiles won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Biography and 2009 National Book Award for Nonfiction for his most recent book, The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt (Knopf, 2009). His previous book, Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and won the Ambassador Book Award and the Peter Seaborg Award for Civil War Scholarship. He has reviewed books for the New York Times Book Review, Washington Post, and San Francisco Chronicle, and served as a consultant for and appeared in two films in the PBS series The American Experience. He worked for ten years in publishing in New York, at Oxford University Press and Ballantine Books. He is currently a Guggenheim fellow.

1 comment:

DPC said...

The class sounds terrific. Thanks for being willing to share some of your teaching materials with those of us who don't live in the Bay Area!