Introduction to Nonfiction

Dates: August 5-September 23. Tuesday evenings, 4-6 pm (No class August 27.)
Location: The Abigail Stuart House
$125 for Members, $175 for Non-Members
Facilitator: Elizabeth Corcoran Murray
Space Available: 3 spaces available out of 12
Registration: available down the page, or call 360-531-1472.

Compelling non-fiction captures the reader’s attention and grips it through the duration of a piece. Whether you are writing a magazine article or a book, essay, memoir, or travel piece, a successful story will convey fresh ideas, intriguing facts, and spark emotion. In this class, we discuss how to begin from the point of passion or curiosity, then continue on to write with clarity and simplicity, even when the topic is profound and complex.

We examine techniques for interviews, research, and fact checking; how to move from a singular example to the universal; and how to integrate the foundational blocks of fiction into your non-fiction piece. We discuss creating vivid scenes, revealing characters, building tension as well as how to organize thoughts, reflection, and analysis. Finally, we will touch on publication and how to get your stories out into the world. This fun class offers support and encouragement as we explore the extensive breadth of non-fiction writing, with focus on the individual needs of the participating students.

Reading will include excerpts from travelers, memoirists, essayists, and authors including Philip Lapote, Tara Westover, Ariel Gore, Rick Steves, and Erik Larson. Additionally, we’ll read pieces from the New Yorker, the Atlantic, and New York Times Modern Love.




Elizabeth Corcoran Murray, a freelance writer and author, has published articles ranging from Lady Gaga to Paralympics. She visited forty-nine states by the time she was twenty-eight, and made her fiftieth ten years later. Her current goal is to travel to Antarctica, her final continent. Her short story, “The Urban Goatherd,” a Pushcart nominee, is about her transformation living off the grid in the mountains of France.

Written under the name, E.C. Murray, her book A Long Way from Paris, was named a KIRKUS Best Book of the Year. Elizabeth teaches creative writing at Seattle Central College and founded Writers Connection, Excerpts from interviews about writing are in her Writers Unblocked: Insightful Tips from Readers and Writers in and around Seattle by E.C. Murray.