Writing



Documentary and the Three-Act Structure Workshop (Onsite and Online)
At heart, documentarians are storytellers. Telling stories that people want to watch means engaging audiences in your narrative, which requires an understanding of their needs and desires and of the tools developed over time to answer those needs. This class is designed to provide those tools. In this class, students will view and learn to dissect narrative films for the elements of traditional three-act structure, the most common storytelling format in the industry, and then apply those lessons to their own work. By understanding how and why this structure creates memorable and tightly paced Hollywood films, students will be able to apply it to their own nonfiction work. In melding the sensibilities and conventions of documentaries with an easily identifiable narrative structure, students will not only identify ways to adapt their subject matter to the appetite of a story-hungry contemporary documentary audience but also learn how to deliver commercially viable documentary films for today’s selective environment. (5 hours/All Levels)

Please note: This is a hybrid on-site/online class. Distance students will participate via teleconference.

Josh Dasal has taught at CDS since 2010. He is an Emmy- and Silver Telly–winning director, producer, screenwriter, and video marketer. A master’s graduate of the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television, he has created projects and/or consulted for Discovery Channel, PBS, Sony Screen Gems, and director Wes Craven. He has taught filmmaking courses at UNC-Chapel Hill and Missouri State University, and his films have screened at venues like the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Director’s Guild of America, and USC’s First Look Film Festival. He is the owner and chief creative officer of Kaboonki Creative, a video production and marketing firm based in Raleigh.

Additional information:
To participate from off-site, a late-model computer, fast internet connection, and built-in camera are recommended, though not required. Students with less than optimal hardware or internet connections are welcome to take the course, though it may be difficult to participate fully.

There will be a one-hour break for lunch.


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VI152SP19
Center for Documentary Studies
Room 201
Dasal 3/23 - 3/23 Sa 10:00 AM - 04:00 PM $160.00 View

Interviewing for Story (Online)


Interviews form the basis of most documentary projects, providing the raw material for written pieces, audio stories, and documentary films. What creators are able to unearth during interviews often has a profound effect on what they're able to produce in the end; the more fruitful the dialogue, the richer the finished product. In this course, students will learn the interviewer's skills: How to prepare for an interview, build rapport with subjects, formulate questions that elicit interesting or thoughtful responses, and effectively structure their conversations. In addition, they will learn the more technical aspects of the craft: how to work with recording tools, transcribe and edit, and otherwise make use of the content they glean.

Listening to and reading edited interviews, as well as pieces that make use of them, students will examine various interviewing techniques and approaches. They will practice interviewing on their own and explore different ways of bringing the material they gather to life through written exercises. On the class blog and during regular videoconferencing sessions, they will engage with their classmates and instructor, discussing the practical, ethical, and compositional aspects of gathering and working with other people's stories. By the end, students will develop—and receive peer and instructor feedback on—a written profile or an audio, video, or captioned-photo project that incorporates the interviews they've conducted. They will walk away with the skills and understanding to interview with confidence—and the potential to tell deeper, more compelling stories. (12 hours/All Levels)

Please note: This course is offered in an online format and will not meet at CDS but will instead take place in regularly scheduled virtual sessions.

Christina Cooke is associate editor at the daily food-policy website Civil Eats and a Durham-based freelance writer. Her stories about people, place, and culture appear in venues including the New Yorker, the Atlantic, the New York Times, the Guardian, the Oxford American, Our State, and High Country News. Previously, she worked two years as a staff writer for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, and another year as the only full-time reporter for a weekly paper in Portland, Oregon. Cooke finds herself drawn to tell stories at the fringes of society, about people who are offbeat and unconventional, passionate and obsessed, and masters of their own, very specialized domains. She holds an MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Portland State University and is a graduate of the nonfiction writing program at the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies. Find out more at christinacooke.com.

Additional information:
A late-model computer, fast internet connection, and built-in camera are recommended, though not required. Students with less than optimal hardware or internet connections are welcome to take the course, though it may be difficult to participate fully.

There will be no class on March 28.

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WR192SP19
Center for Documentary Studies
Virtual Classroom
Cooke 2/21 - 4/4 Th 07:00 PM - 09:00 PM $300.00 View

Master Class: Nonfiction Writing

 
This workshop brings students together with professional writers and editors for an intense week of collaborative discussion, revision, and writing. Students in the workshop will read and discuss the ongoing projects of fellow students, work individually with the instructors to refine and shape their own projects, and participate in readings and round-table discussions with top figures in the publishing world. Throughout the week, students will have the space and time for sustained, concentrated writing, as well as access to the world-class Duke University Libraries system. This is a workshop on craft, structure, and the art of writing great nonfiction, and a rare opportunity to be guided closely by top editors and writers. (38 hours)

Haven Kimmel is the author of eight books: Two memoirs, the #1 New York Times bestseller A Girl Named Zippy and She Got Up Off the Couch, and Other Heroic Tales from Mooreland, Indiana; four novels; and two books for children. She graduated from Ball State University with a degree in creative writing and studied with the novelist Lee Smith at North Carolina State University. She is currently working on a horror novel and a non-fiction collection of essays about Quakerism. She lives in Durham.

Janine Latus is a freelance journalist and the author of If I Am Missing or Dead: A Sister’s Story of Love, Murder and Liberation, which made bestseller lists in New York, London, and Toronto. She is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a former board member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Her work has appeared in Discover, O, The Oprah Magazine, Parents, Fitness, More, and dozens of other magazines and websites. She is at work on her second book, about her recent year living as a nomad.

Barry Yeoman is a Durham-based freelance magazine journalist whose recent work has appeared in The American Prospect, Saturday Evening Post, onEarth, Audubon, and Parade. He is the author of “The Gutbucket King,” a longform multimedia profile of New Orleans bluesman Little Freddie King, published by The New New South. He specializes in putting human faces on complex social, political, and environmental issues. His website is barryyeoman.com.

Additional information:
The enrollment fee includes dinner the first night and all lunches during the week. Students are responsible for housing and transportation.

Two sections will be offered. Hours for the intensive are:

Section A
Taught by Haven Kimmel and Barry Yeoman
Sunday, June 9: 5 p.m.–9 p.m.
Monday–Thursday, June 10–13: 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Friday, June 14: 9 a.m.–8 p.m.

Section B
Taught by Janine Latus and Barry Yeoman
Sunday, August 4: 5 p.m.–9 p.m.
Monday–Thursday, August 5–8: 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Friday, August 9: 9 a.m.–8 p.m.

Friday's sessions conclude with a public presentation of student work.

See the course blog for a schedule, information on housing options, and more.

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WR535SU18A
Center for Documentary Studies
CDS Auditorium
Yeoman 6/9 - 6/14 Mo Tu We Th Fr Su 05:00 PM - 09:00 PM $675.00 View
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WR535SU19B
Center for Documentary Studies
CDS Auditorium
Yeoman 8/4 - 8/9 Mo Tu We Th Fr Su 05:00 PM - 09:00 PM $675.00 View

The Nonfiction Story: Beginning to End (Online)


This class explores the rudiments of documentary storytelling, with the goal of taking you from the stage of having an idea to crafting something presentable and publishable. Since all narrative possesses the same formal characteristics regardless of genre, we will study examples of film and audio documentary as well as writing, covering such topics as how to utilize interview testimony; introducing character; foreshadowing; planting a hook; exposition; surface text versus subtext; the problem of pacing; endings and resolution; and revision. The instructor closely monitors your progress and drafts, making sure that by the end of the eighth week your piece is done. Syllabus includes readings by Toni Morrison and Colson Whitehead; episodes from the Criminal and Home of the Brave podcasts; and films by Barbara Kopple and Raoul Peck. (12 hours/All Levels)

Please note: This course is offered in an online format and will not meet at CDS but will instead take place in regularly scheduled virtual sessions.

Benjamin Hedin is a Grammy-nominated film producer and the author of In Search of the Movement: The Struggle for Civil Rights Then and Now. He also edited one of the most widely respected anthologies of music writing, Studio A: The Bob Dylan Reader. His work has been published by the New Yorker, the Atlantic, Slate, the Nation, the Oxford American, the Chicago Tribune, Poets and Writers, and more.

Additional Information:
The class will be conducted online. A late-model computer, fast internet connection, and built-in camera are recommended, though not required. Students with less than optimal hardware or internet connections are welcome to take the course, though it may be difficult to participate fully in virtual meetings.

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WR213oSP19
Center for Documentary Studies
Virtual Classroom
Hedin 2/27 - 4/3 We 07:00 PM - 09:00 PM $300.00 View

Writing About Trauma, Conflict, and Loss (Online)

Flooding caused by Hurricane Matthew, October, 2016. Photo by Sharon Raynor.

Paul Valéry wrote, “Our memory repeats to us what we haven’t yet come to terms with, what still haunts us.” Trauma survivors often sense a loss of control over their own lives and circumstances and feel deeply conflicted because they have undergone a changed sense of self, a changed way of relating to others, and a changed worldview. This course will deepen and broaden students' understanding of how trauma, conflict, and loss are intertwined, and what it means to write about these entities in the “post-traumatic age” we live in. The class will examine man-made disasters (war, terrorist attacks, school shootings, bombings), natural disasters (floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis), personal traumas (health issues, rape, abuse, disabilities, suicide, death, accidents), and even technological catastrophes (everything that can go wrong when systems fail), in order to investigate and produce writings that recapture the past, face the loss, and reconcile their two conflicting realities—the one destroyed by trauma, and the one that is different, yet remains. Writers will focus on the evolution of their narrative and how to share these narratives with others in safe places. (6 hours/All Levels)

Please note: This course is offered in an online format and will not meet at CDS but will instead take place in regularly scheduled virtual sessions.

Sharon D. Raynor is the director of graduate education and a professor of English at Elizabeth City State University. She is the coproducer of The Silence of War, an enhanced eBook and documentary multimedia project that documents the wartime experiences of Vietnam War veterans in North Carolina. It was produced in collaboration with the Wake Forest University Documentary Film Program and The Imagination Project. Raynor worked with the North Carolina Humanities Council to produce two community oral history projects: Breaking the Silence: The Unspoken Brotherhood of Vietnam Veterans and Soldier-to-Soldier: Men and Women Share Their Legacy of War. Her most recent work appeared in History Now, the Oral History Review, CLCWEB: Comparative Literature and Culture, (In)Scribing Gender: International Female Writers and the Creative Process, the Australian Feminist Review, and 27 Views of Charlotte: The Queen City in Prose and Poetry. See more of her work at theunspokenbrotherhood.org.

Additional information:
A late-model computer, fast internet connection, and built-in camera are recommended, though not required. Students with less than optimal hardware or internet connections are welcome to take the course, though it may be difficult to participate fully in virtual meetings.

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WR206oSP19
Center for Documentary Studies
Virtual Classroom
Raynor 3/2 - 3/3 Sa Su 01:00 PM - 04:00 PM $210.00 View