The Art of Writing a Nonfiction Book That Reads Like a Novel

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Led by acclaimed author Audrey Clare Farley, this class is for writers working on book-length narrative nonfiction in genres such as memoir, biography, history or true crime. Over the course of 8 weeks, writers will learn how to craft nonfiction that reads like a novel with page-turning storylines, lively characters and immersive scenes.

Writers signing up for this class should have at least the first chapter of their book drafted. In the first few weeks of class, each writer will set and share their individual goals and workshop up to 10 pages of their book. In the second half of the course, writers may either revise and re-submit these pages, or share a new set of up to 10 pages. All students will be required to read and review one peer's 10-page submission each week. The instructor will workshop all submissions, and each student will also have a one-on-one, 30-minute conference with the instructor, either during the course or up to 30 days after it concludes. Writers are welcome to submit a third set of 10 pages before this call, or they can use the time to discuss whatever issues they choose.

All 8 weekly class meetings will include craft exercises, some based on short assigned readings. Later sessions will zero in on the details of getting your book published, including one session with a publishing industry insider (an agent or editor) joining to discuss trends and field questions, and another focused on crafting excerpts/adapted essays to grow an audience for your book. By the course’s end, you will have a plan for perfecting your full manuscript, insight into the publishing industry (including what it takes to sign with an agent) and greater confidence in your ability to stylishly narrate and interpret real lives and events.

This class is right for you if…

  • You’ve started writing your nonfiction book and need guidance on how to finish it.

  • You're excited to get feedback from a published nonfiction author and from your peers.

  • You want to learn how to make your book resonate with agents, editors and readers.

Writers signing up for this class must have completed, at a minimum, the first 10 pages of your book draft by the class start date. This is a workshop-based class and all students are required to read and review 10 pages of peer work each week.

Class meets Wednesdays, May 29 - July 24 at 7pm ET. (No class on July 3rd.)

All Narratively Academy classes are conducted online and accessible to students anywhere in the world.

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Instructor Bio: Audrey Clare Farley is a writer, editor and scholar of 20th-century American culture. She earned a Ph.D. in English literature at University of Maryland, College Park, and now teaches U.S. history at Mount St. Mary’s University. Her first book, The Unfit Heiress: The Tragic Life and Scandalous Sterilization of Ann Cooper Hewitt, tells the story of a 1930s millionairess whose mother secretly sterilized her to deprive her of the family fortune, sparking a sensational case and forcing a debate of eugenics. Audrey’s book, which grew out of a viral Hidden History story she authored for Narratively, is currently in development as a scripted TV series with a major actress and producer attached. Her second book, Girls and Their Monsters: The Genain Quadruplets and the Making of Madness in America, explores the lives of the four women behind a famous case study of schizophrenia. It was named a New York Times Editors’ Pick. Audrey’s stories have appeared in The Atlantic, The New Republic, The New York Times, The Washington Post and many other outlets. She lives in Hanover, Pennsylvania.

“Audrey was far and away one of the best teachers I've had. Each lesson introduced me to new work, or new ways of looking at work I was already familiar with. Her insight into my work was helpful, supportive, constructive, and I really appreciated all of her notes and comments. I felt the class progressed well, with the lessons building on top of one another, and I learned so much that I know I'll use moving forward in my writing life.” —Elizabeth Austin, former student

“Audrey has the rare ability to listen to each of her students, to synthesize their goals and questions, and help find paths forward with our projects. She is a funny, kindhearted person, and a generous instructor. She was excellent at moderating discussion and offered just the right balance of constructive criticism and encouragement.” —Beth Nodland, former student

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Registration Details: Seats in this class are limited and available on a first-come, first-serve basis. All purchases are final and nonrefundable. After signing up, you’ll receive an email receipt confirming your purchase. Prior to the start of your class you’ll receive an invitation to access the virtual classroom and view all class materials.

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Check out all of our Narratively Academy online writing classes here.