Writing



Crafting the Perfect Story: The Art of Narrative Nonfiction


So you’ve shot hours of film, drafted chapters, compiled notes and interview testimony: now what? How do you take all that preparatory work and mold it into something affecting, that can make your audience as passionate as you are about the subject? This class is intended for documentarians of all stripes who are looking to gain a better understanding of story structure. Students will explore and put into practice techniques that make for compelling written and visual art, and the class will discuss the role of beginnings, middles, and ends; how to plant “a hook” and foreshadow; when to cut versus when to deepen; and the problem of pacing. But ultimately, each subject demands its own form; that is the “perfect story” named in the course title. Readings by Joan Didion, Colson Whitehead, and others; films by Barbara Kopple and Spike Lee. (12 hours/All Levels)

Benjamin Hedin is the writer and producer of the documentary feature Two Trains Runnin’ as well as 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 Oxford American, the Chicago Tribune, Poets and Writers, the Georgia Review, and more.

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WR204SP18
Center for Documentary Studies
CDS Library
Hedin 2/28 - 4/4 We 07:00 PM - 09:00 PM $230.00 View

From Pitch to Publish: Getting Your Writing into the Marketplace (Online)


This class is designed to help you publish your work. Its emphasis, first, is on making that work more lucid, balanced, and convincing—on giving it the shape and authority we associate with published prose. We will also focus on practical questions: How do you get an agent? What are the elements of a successful pitch? What do the best book proposals have in common? Meetings will cover every step of the process, from contacting an editor and pitching a story to doing research and interviews, writing the initial draft and revising until the piece is ready for publication. Readings by Cheryl Strayed and Toni Morrison, among others, will be complemented by visits with agents, editors, and publishers. (16 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 the writer and producer of the documentary feature Two Trains Runnin’, as well as 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 Oxford American, the Chicago Tribune, Poets and Writers, the Georgia Review, 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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WR208oSP18
Center for Documentary Studies
Virtual Classroom
Hedin 4/11 - 5/30 We 07:00 PM - 09:00 PM $295.00 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 29.

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WR192SP18
Center for Documentary Studies
Virtual Classroom
Cooke 2/22 - 4/5 Th 07:00 PM - 09:00 PM $275.00 View

Journaling for Documentarians


Find your creative voice, write your way to personal growth, and rediscover the real you! The popularity of journal-writing as a self-help tool has never been greater. Learn why so many self-help authors, health and wellness programs, recovery methods, spiritual practices, and management experts recommend journal writing as a path to self-awareness. Writing your truth and shaping your own narrative will propel you toward life-changing discoveries. (9 hours/All Levels)

Dr. Jean Donnell is a teacher, writer, minister, and filmmaker. She is a graduate of the University of Baltimore and earned a Certificate in Documentary Arts at CDS in 2010. A journal writer for over fifty years, she produced the short documentary Journeys of the Heart, about women and creative writing. She has taught screenwriting at Boston University, and is an alumna of the ACTONE Hollywood program, in which industry professionals mentor select writers to influence the entertainment industry through art and spirituality. Donnell resides in Baltimore, where she is the senior pastor of Restoration Temple, and continues to pursue the integration of the Gospel and the arts.

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Cancelled
WR211SP18
Center for Documentary Studies
CDS Library
Donnell 2/15 - 3/22 Th 07:30 PM - 09:00 PM $190.00 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 10: 5 p.m.–9 p.m.
Monday–Thursday, June 11–14: 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Friday, June 15: 9 a.m.–8 p.m.

Section B
Taught by Janine Latus and Barry Yeoman
Sunday, August 5: 5 p.m.–9 p.m.
Monday–Thursday, August 6–9: 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Friday, August 10: 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 6/10 - 6/15 Mo Tu We Th Fr Su Varied $675.00 View
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WR535SU18B
Center for Documentary Studies
CDS Auditorium
Yeoman 8/5 - 8/10 Mo Tu We Th Fr Su Varied $675.00 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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WR206oSP18
Center for Documentary Studies
Virtual Classroom
Raynor 3/3 - 3/4 Sa Su 01:00 PM - 04:00 PM $190.00 View