• $250

Generative Essay Lab (supported)

    Saturdays, Oct 21-Nov 18, 12-1pm EDT
    Online via Zoom

    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.

    Capped at 20 participants.


    • Registration closes Oct 13.

    • This course includes weekly check-in meetings via Zoom to discuss progress and ask questions. For the fully independent, self-paced version of the course (at half the price), click here.

    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
            Check-in meeting 10/21

              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
                      Check-in meeting 10/28

                        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
                                Check-in meeting 11/4

                                  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
                                        Check-in meeting 11/11

                                          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
                                                Check-in meeting 11/18