Remembering, Reflecting, and Plotting with Nicole Helget

  • Saturday, July 9 – Friday, Aug 12 (5 Weeks)
  • Pay What You Can ($50 – 250)
  • Online, Asynchronous class
  • Register Now

Creative Nonfiction: Remembering, Reflection, and Plotting
Essayist and novelist, Nicole Helget has a unique, 3-step process for tackling a piece of nonfiction writing: remembering, reflecting, and plotting. In this online, summer class, Helget will lead students through selecting the best memories for drama, the best moments for reflection, and the best plot points for structuring a larger story. This class includes weekly CNF craft lessons and writing prompts, submission deadlines, and personal feedback.

This class has no required live meeting times: materials (readings, exercises, assignments) will be posted each week on Saturday morning.

Creative Nonfiction (CNF) is the umbrella genre for many subgenres, including memoir, personal essays, travel journals, true crime narratives, sports literature, prose essays, lyric essays, and more. No matter which subgenre a CNF writer is working in, they go through the sequence of remembering, reflecting, and plotting. 

“Remembering is the hardest, most dense. Reflection is the insight, the flight of meaning. Plotting is the responsibility of communicating to an audience,” says instructor Nicole Helget. “At the end of this class, students will be equipped with the skills to deftly move between these three nonfiction modes in their manuscript.” 

Instructor: Nicole Helget

Instructor: Nicole Helget

Nicole Helget (she/her) is the author of The Summer of Ordinary Ways (Borealis Press/Minnesota Historical Society), The Turtle Catcher (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Stillwater (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Horse Camp (Egmont), Wonder at the Edge of the World (Little, Brown and Company), The End of the Wild (Little, Brown and Company), and the forthcoming essay collection, Love on the Wintry Prairie (University of Minnesota Press). She is a New York Times Editor’s Pick and People Magazine’s Critic’s Choice writer. She has dozens of starred reviews and writing grants for her work in nonfiction and fiction, especially about climate change and water quality. She has written dozens of children’s nonfiction picture books, published under various pen names. She also ghostwrites books for clients. She is the editor-in-chief of Minneopa Valley Press, an independent publishing company devoted to diverse voices from rural America launched in 2018 by Helget and her partners. She is a longtime teacher, editor, and manuscript consultant. She lives in southern Minnesota with her children and husband and dogs.


Research in Creative Nonfiction with Aram Mrjoian

  • Monday, March 28 – Sunday, May 1 (5 weeks)
  • Pay What You Can ($50 – 250)
  • Asynchronous class with no required live sessions for class participation
  • Register now

This five-week course will take a broad approach to the role research plays in writing and potentially publishing creative nonfiction. Each week, students will complete short generative writing exercises and develop strategies for incorporating research into their own work. Each week will also focus on a central theme: the ethical considerations related to writing toward truth, the exploration of memory and personal research, strategies for including outside sources, form and content, and the reviewing and proofreading processes.

Aram Mrjoian is a visiting assistant professor in creative writing at Pacific Lutheran University and an editor-at-large at the Chicago Review of Books. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Electric Literature, Boulevard, Gulf Coast online, The Rumpus, The Millions, Longreads, and many other publications. Find his work at arammrjoian.com

Aram Mrjoian (Photo: John Froschauer)

From Flat to all That: Bringing Dimension to Your Story & Characters with Chris Tebbetts

  • Wednesday, March 16 | 7-9 PM
  • Suggested donation (sliding scale): $5-25
  • Virtual (via Zoom)

“The opposite of a true statement is a false statement, but the opposite of a profound truth is usually another profound truth.” -Niels Bohr

Let’s take a closer look at your work in progress—story arc, individual scenes, settings, character, and theme—and interrogate those elements for what else might be true about them, all with an eye on infusing your story with more dimension, more humanity, and more resonance. Lastly, we’ll focus on how to do all of this with economy, and to make your story elements work harder for you than they already are, by doing more than one thing at a time. The session will include a selection of hands on exercises, a 15 minute work session, and a discussion/Q&A.

This workshop will include an crash course on Visual Outlining which offers a variety of tools for conceiving, outlining, and taking stock of our stories in progress in order to create visual spreads that help us vision (and re-vision) the work we’re trying to accomplish. We’ll cover color coding; visual spreads; grids and tables; storyboarding; map-making; and several other methods that may help writers see their plots and characters in a whole new way. We’ll also look at how writers can draw from the filmmaker’s storytelling vocabulary to inform our own choices on the page.

Hitting a New Note: Musical Forms for Poetry Writing (Section 2)

  • Monday, Feb 21 – Sunday, Mar 27 (5 weeks)
  • Pay what you can ($50 – $250)
  • Asynchronous class with no required live sessions for class participation
  • Register now

Fugues, sonatas, ballads, blues stanzas, the bop—all human history gives us an active dialogue between music and poetic forms. This class uses music theory and poetic forms as an entryway into poetry writing. Students will borrow compositional techniques to write poems that inhabit soundscapes, including explorations of polyphonics, voicing, and “scoring silence”.

By studying both poetry and music, participants will create at least 8 new poems and share work with the instructor and each other for feedback. Readings and listenings will include Tomas Transtromer, Afaa Michael Weaver, Kevin Young, Taije Silverman, William Heyen, Ellen Bryan Voight, John Cage, J. S. Bach, and others. This 5-week class is perfect for both beginning poets and seasoned writers looking to discover a fresh approach to their craft.

Alina Stefanescu was born in Romania and lives in Birmingham, Alabama with her partner and several intense mammals. Recent books include a creative nonfiction chapbook, Ribald (Bull City Press Inch Series, Nov. 2020) and the poetry collection Dor, which won the Wandering Aengus Press Prize (September, 2021). Her debut fiction collection, Every Mask I Tried On, won the Brighthorse Books Prize (April 2018).  She serves as poetry editor for several journals, reviewer and critic for others, and Co-Director of PEN America’s Birmingham Chapter. Alina’s poems, essays, and fiction can be found in Prairie Schooner, North American Review, World Literature Today, Pleiades, Poetry, BOMB, Crab Creek Review, and others. She is currently working on a novel-like creature. More online at www.alinastefanescuwriter.com.

YOUR UNIVERSE: Worldbuilding for Fiction Writing

  • Monday, February 21 – March 25
  • Pay What You Can ($50 – 250)
  • Asynchronous class with no required live sessions for class participation
  • Register now

Worldbuilding (the process of constructing a fictional universe) is an essential element of sci-fi and fantasy, however worldbuilding happens in all fiction. This class explores the role of setting and place by studying worldbuilding across fictional genres, using examples from writers such as Ursula K. Le Guin, Colson Whitehead, Stephen King, Toni Morrison, Edith Wharton, and Megan Giddings (as well as examples from television, such as “Supernatural,” “Stranger Things,” and “The Office”).  As students build their own worlds, they will play with suspension of belief,  practice consistency, and learn how to keep a stylesheet. Each student will write a short story or excerpt employing the worlds they create and will receive personalized instructor feedback. At the end of the course, everyone will be invited to share their work at an optional class reading. 

DeMisty D. Bellinger is the author of the poetry collections Peculiar Heritage and Rubbing Elbows, and the forthcoming novel New to Liberty (Unnamed Press, 2022). A graduate of the MFA program at Southampton College and the PhD program at the University of Nebraska, DeMisty is the poetry editor with Porcupine Literary and with Malarkey Books. She teaches creative writing and women, gender, and sexuality studies at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts as well as creative writing workshops for The Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College. You can find her online at demistybellinger@gmail.com

Saturday, November 13, 1-3 PM, FREE (Donations welcome)

The stakes are high for writing the personal statement for college application essays. This part of the application process is an exciting chance to stand out and share with readers a piece of who you are. In this workshop, we will work on crafting a personal statement with a captivating narrative, powerful prose, and your own specific voice. The virtual workshop will include brainstorming and generative writing exercises, discussion of sample essays, tools and tricks for writing and revision, and more. Writers in all stages of their college essay writing process are welcome to attend

Emily Weitzman is a writer, educator, and performer from New York. She teaches writing to undergraduates at NYU and Columbia University, where she completed an MFA in nonfiction writing. She has taught creative, essay, and college essay writing for various arts organizations around the country and across the world. Her work has been published in LongreadsVol. 1 BrooklynHuffPost, and HAD, among other publications, and she has received residencies and fellowships from the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, the Adirondack Center for Writing, the Vermont Studio Center, and others. Find out more at emilyweitzman.com.

This opportunity is generously supported by Lake Placid Education Foundation.

Registration & Payment

Because times are extra tough right now, ACW is offering this class at a Pay What You Can rate, thanks to the generous support of the Lake Placid Education Foundation. If you are able, please consider selecting the $150 or $200 rate to ensure ACW can continue bringing classes like this one to community members like yourself. Registrations are limited, so make sure to register early!

Prefer cash or check? Select deferred payment in the registration form and send a check made out to Adirondack Center for Writing, P.O. Box 956, Saranac Lake, New York 12983.

Did you know? You can give a class to a loved one! Simply enter your payment info and select “gift option.”

About the classes

Each season welcomes a new batch of talented teachers and developing writers from all over the world. The Adirondack Center for Writing’s online classes are easy for you to participate in from your own computer. All you need to participate is a web browser — there’s no technical software involved, so you can work whenever is convenient for you.

Interactive readings, resources, and assignments are the heart of each class. Every student will receive personal feedback from the instructor on their weekly assignments. We welcome any level of writer to join the online writing classes, and offer courses for a variety of genres. Visit the FAQ page for more info about the online writing classes.

Student Testimonials

“Before this class, I had a “loose almost lost” assortment of fiction stories and because of Leah, I pulled the old ones together, re-worked them and wrote a few more.”

“I was a teacher for thirty years, and I can tell you that Julia Shipley knows her stuff and is willing to share her knowledge. She works to better student writing. She’s efficient, friendly and enthusiastic.”

“I have taken 8 online courses from One Story, Grub Street, and Gotham City. Julia Shipley’s preparation and presentation were the most thorough of all.”

“The class was the perfect amount of challenge, stimulation and fun.”

“I loved this course. It forced me to work at my edge. Jessica Hendry Nelson gave detailed feedback. I took risks and learned a lot.”

Previously Offered Courses

The Adirondack Center for Writing has offered a long list of online writing classes with an amazing group of teachers, including the following:

Let’s look forward to the future together

Help ACW continue to support you through the coming months. The future might feel overwhelming, but ACW is committed to infusing joy into your life with upcoming programming! With your continued support, ACW can offer new online classes every month, story nights, a discussion series, writing workshops for teens, and more for all ages.

Make this summer amazing for the ACW family. Be a part of ACW. Give now.