Seminar in Creative Writing

ENG 713: Crafting a Nonfiction Manuscript

Laurel Flores Fantauzzo

Time: T 15:15-17:45
Crn: 79360
KUY 213


This course will study the craft of the book-length nonfiction manuscript. We will begin by examining a wide range of nonfiction books in a variety of forms within the genre: memoir, narrative journalism, lyric essay, and graphic. We will examine the choices authors made in completing their nonfiction books, such as structure, theme, narrative voice, research, and ethics.


Students will, at the same time, work on their own original nonfiction; each class will include a generative in-class prompt to be developed further by the writer. By the end of the course, each student should expect to complete the two chapters of their own nonfiction projects (at least 5,000 to 7,000 words) though advanced students may complete more. Students working on creative theses and dissertations may will find this course supportive for their manuscripts.


Possible Texts, to be finalized on the first day of class:


The Best We Could Do, Thi Bui. Harry N. Abrams; Reprint edition (April 17, 2018) ISBN 978-1419718786


Among the Living and the Dead, Inara Verzemnieks. W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (September 25, 2018) ISBN 978-0393356199


Heavy, Kiese Laymon. Scribner; First Edition edition (October 16, 2018)  ISBN 13 978-1501125652


The Body: An Essay, Jenny Boully. Essay Press, (March 1, 2007) ISBN-13: 978-0979118920


Don’t Come Back, Lina María Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas, Mad River Books; 1 edition (January 1, 2017) ISBN-13: 978-0814253953





An original first chapter of a nonfiction manuscript (at least 2500-3500 words), plus an outline of the entire manuscript.


A presentation, summary, and series of discussion questions on one book in the course.


Written workshop comments on classmates’ drafts.




Explore the cultural context and broader significance of the genre.


Interpret nonfiction works in a variety of media through close reading.


Engage the reading and writing of others in active, critical ways.


Write, critique, and revise works of original nonfiction on deadline.


Identify the detail, intention, execution, and possibilities of individual nonfiction works.


Cultivate critical reflection while acknowledging your individual feeling.


Discover and articulate your own ethics and aesthetics within the genre.