• $99

Generative Essay Lab (independent study)

    Whether you’re in a creative drought and need help coming up with new essay ideas, or you just feel like you keep repeating the same essay forms and want to try something new, this Generative Essay Lab is for you.

    Each section of the course will focus on a different way into telling personal stories, including some familiar forms like the flash essay and the investigative essay, as well as some hyper-specific prompts like using a single defining scene as a container for a larger story, and writing a personal essay about a piece of art. Each section includes example essays, a written lecture/craft essay, and a detailed multi-step prompt. By the end of the course, you’ll have five brand new essay drafts.

    Note: This is a fully independent, self-paced course with no live component or feedback.

    Course Outline

    0: Before We Begin

    Just a little bit of prep work

    Generating a list of essay topics

      1: Flash

      Super short essays that pack a punch in under 1,000 words

      Example essays by Jill Christman, Kristin M. Distel, and Shahnaz Habib
        Craft lesson: What differentiates a flash essay from a fragment
          Prompt: Four options for a flash essay

            2: A Framing Scene

            Essays that use a single defining moment (rendered in a vivid, tangible scene) as a container for a big, complicated story

            Example essays by Alexander Chee, Amalia Melis, and Devin Odell
              Craft lesson: Building a container for an unwieldy story
                Bonus lesson on writing vivid scenes
                  Prompt: Write an immersive scene that can hold a whole story

                    3: The Investigative Essay

                    Essays driven by questions

                    Example essays by Jeannie Vanasco, Brooke Randel, and Alisson Wood
                      Craft lesson: Write what you *don't* know
                        Bonus lesson on researching your own life
                          Prompt: Write the story of a search

                            4: Social Context

                            Using personal experience to make a big, complicated social issue feel tangible and urgent

                            Example essays by Esmé Weijun Wang, Alex Marzano Lesnevich, and Darryl Robertson
                              Craft lesson: How and why to bring the news and social issues into personal essays
                                Prompt: Use your personal experience to add to a broader conversation

                                  5: The Personal/Critical Essay

                                  Writing about art as a way to articulate a personal experience

                                  Example essays by Brandon Taylor, Abigail Hadfield, and Deena ElGenaidi
                                    Craft lesson: Art as a mirror
                                      Prompt: Write a personal essay about a work of art