Introduction to Autobiographical Non-Fiction

“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.” - Mark Twain

Truth may be strange, but can it also be compelling and imaginative? How do craft and truth come together on the page? Introduction to Autobiographical Non-Fiction explores how to shape factual material into creative prose. In this four-week course, we'll focus on writing short works of autobiographical and biographical non-fiction and personal essays, emphasizing the writing process itself rather than research or fact-checking. You'll develop your voice through a combination of reading and discussing selected texts, as well as participating in in-class and take home writing exercises. We encourage you to bring one or more stories you're passionate about to the first day of class.

About the instructor

  • Jane Silcott

    Jane Silcott writes fiction, poetry and non fiction. Her work has been published in several anthologies and magazines including Geist, The Malahat Review, Utne, and CV2 . In 2005 she placed second in the CBC Literary Awards in Creative Nonfiction, and in 2008 she was a finalist in Fiction. Jane has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. She teaches at the UBC Writing Centre, Langara College’s Continuing Studies Program and Vancouver Community College as well as at SFU.

Currently not available for registration.

Instructional hours: 12

For campus-based courses, registration may close up to one week before the course begins.  

For online offerings, registration may close up to two business days before the course begins. Your course begins on the first date listed and ends six days after the last date listed. The interim dates/times are not your actual online class times.

What will I learn?

By the end of the course, you will be able to do the following:

  • Identify and comfortably discuss different literary techniques used in creative non-fiction
  • Write in your own unique voice and style
  • Create a portfolio-quality short work of creative non-fiction (2,000–5,000 words) that is focused, accessible, and engaging

How will I learn?

  • Reading sample texts provided by the instructor
  • Short lectures and in-class discussions
  • Peer-driven participation

How will I be evaluated?

  • Written feedback from the instructor
  • Peer-driven feedback in the classroom

Textbooks and learning materials

We will provide custom course materials.

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