Creative Nonfiction Workshops, Panels and Events

All keynote talks, panels, one-day workshops, readings and special events are included in general registration, as is attendance at the poetry symposium each afternoon. All three-day workshops and three-day critical seminars require an additional fee of $200.


Panel #1:

"Why Environmental Journalism Is About More Than You Think."

Brian Calvert (Editor of High Country News), Moderator, Paige Blankenbuehler, and others.

Thursday, July 19, 8:30 - 10:00 am, Taylor Hall 226

Panel #2:

"Investigative Journalism Today: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly."

Patrick Pexton, Moderator, with others.

Saturday, July 21, 2:00 - 4:00 pm, Taylor Hall 229



Workshop #1:

"Writing the Modern American West(s)."

Instructor: Brian Calvert.

Thursday, July 19, 2:00 - 4:00, Taylor Hall 204

The American west is a vibrant, complex and dynamic place that is always changing and developing. Join us as we discuss why writing about the region is also changing and how you as a writer can be a part of this movement.

Workshop #2:

"The Art of the Op-Ed."

Instructor: Patrick Pexton

Sunday, July 22, 2:00 - 4:00, Taylor Hall 200

Rare is the writer who has not wanted to appear on the newspaper page opposite the editorials ("op-ed"), making a complete and compelling argument in a mere 750-words. This workshop will introduce the art and craft of the op-ed, which is a particular form of journalism with its own rules and protocols.


All Three-Day Workshops and Critical Seminars meet Thursday, 7/19, Saturday, 7/21, and Sunday, 7/22, from 10:15 - 12:15. Cost: $200 in addition to registration. 

Workshop #1:

“Going Short.”

Instructor: Kase Johnstun.

Taylor Hall 201

From glossies to e-zines, from travel pieces to newspaper features, and from print literary journals to online journals, editors of creative nonfiction and memoir are looking short. "Modern Love," the New York Times memoir column about love, asks for no more than 1,500 words. Salon wants 1,000 word pieces for their “LIFE" section, and Southwest asks for 1,500 exactly. These publications pay more than a dollar a word, so it’s best to adhere to their submission guidelines.  But how do we write a whole memoir/essay in less than 1,500 words? We practice. These publications, and the hundreds around the country that mimic them, expect essays to have a full narrative arc within that word count, and they expect that none of the literary craft techniques are trimmed. They expect the following: an inciting incident, tension, character, background, flashbacks, narrative description, a climax, and a resolution. They do not publish slice-of-life pieces that hunker down in one moment and don’t move forward — those have become less and less attractive to editors over the last decade. given the reality of this market, this workshop will analyze pieces form the New York Times, Salon, Real Simple, Brevity, Creative Nonfiction, Southwest, and Travel and Leisure and examine how the authors pulled off the highest quality essays (memoir and narrative travel) in so few words. 

Workshop #2:

"Building Story in Nature Writing.”

Instructor: Karen Hausdoerrfer.

Location: Taylor Hall 112D

Story provides the muscle that moves creative nonfiction, and this is as true in nature writing as in any other subgenre of CNF. Narrative compels readers to engage with the reflection and exposition that add depth to an essay. As readers, we want to know what will happen next, and we want to unravel the mysteries of what came before. We care most about these questions when we engage with the characters who inhabit the stories. To captivate readers, how do nonfiction writers adapt the techniques of fiction?  How do the best nature writers tell compelling human stories in relationship to the natural world? This workshop and practicum combines writing exercises, feedback groups, discussion of short essays, and even theatre games. Each component will help participants build narrative tension, develop gripping scenes, and paint vivid characters.