Professional Writer | Editor | Writing TeacherHelping literary and business writers harness the power of personal storytelling.
Learn to write a kickass true story in 30 days.
Join three-time BlogHer Voices of the Year award-winning
writer Cindy Reed of The Reedster Speaks for
What’s Your Story?
A 30 Day Online Creative Nonfiction Writing Boot Camp
~ mastering short form true stories for writers and bloggers ~
Now taught exclusively through one-on-one INDEPENDENT STUDY so you can START TODAY. Top-notch curriculum, weekly Skype check-ins, and substantive feedback on your personal essay.
* Do you struggle to make your true stories compelling?
* Would you like to feel confident publishing your personal essays?
* Are you ready to take your blog writing to the next level?
You’re in luck. My creative nonfiction bootcamp will help you master the elements of good storytelling to make your true stories read like fiction.
The class is for all writers of shortform nonfiction — whether you are a blogger or a writer looking to submit essays to online and print publications or just someone working on scenes for a memoir or other longer work in progress.
So join me for “What’s Your Story?” my creative nonfiction boot camp for writers and bloggers. We’ll whip your storytelling skills into shape so that at the end of 30 days, you’ll have your best 750-word personal essay ever.
Each week in the online creative nonfiction writing class, you’ll:
- Get thorough, substantive materials to teach you the essentials of good storytelling
- Meet live for a weekly Google hangout to bond with your classmates, ask questions, and check in on each other’s progress
- Participate in a lively private Facebook group that endures as your writers’ group even after the course is done
- WRITE ACTUAL STUFF and
- Receive my personal feedback on your work.
This isn’t some phone-it-in email class. I’m looking for people who are READY TO WORK HARD and ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE.
Keep up the pace and at the end of 30 days you’ll be rewarded with a 750 word creative nonfiction story you can be proud of.
Check out the syllabus below for all the details.
WEEK 1 | Introductions + Literary Conflict
LITERARY CONFLICT is the essence of story. I like to call it “the thing that makes your reader give a shit.” Take away the conflict? You’ve lost your story. Without that central tension moving your narrative from Point A to Point B, what you’re usually left with is a list of facts, an opinion, a bunch of free-floating emotions, or some horrifying combination of the three.
And that’s what story isn’t.
This week, I’ll give you the course writing prompt. We’ll focus on finding the CORE CONCEPT in your ideas so that you can tease out ONE FUN-SIZED LITERARY CONFLICT just right for a 600-750 word blog post.
750 word first draft due Friday.
WEEK 2 | Narrative Structure + Flow
NARRATIVE STRUCTURE is how your literary conflict unfolds. When does your story begin? How is the conflict set up? In what order are the events told? How and when do you introduce your characters? What’s the climactic moment? How is your conflict resolved?
Narrative structure gives your story SENSE, PACING, and FLOW. This week we’ll concentrate on shaping your narrative hook, rising action, climax, and resolution. We’ll examine your transitions between every scene, paragraph, and sentence and make sure every word is essential to moving your plot forward and resolving your conflict.
Redraft, paying special attention to structure and flow.
Submit your entire story on Friday.
WEEK 3 | Story Elements + Show, Don't Tell
Works of creative nonfiction are true stories that use the literary tools of fiction to create interest and engagement. This week we’ll focus on two aspects of the storyteller’s toolkit:
Story Elements: Learn how to deploy the building blocks of story – action, dialogue, plot, character, and setting – to create your story scene by scene.
Literary Devices: These tools – imagery, framing, point of view, mood, tone, backstory, and much more – help you choose the right words to add interest, variety and, most importantly, your authentic voice to your story. Use literary devices to execute the writing teacher’s favorite adage: Show, don’t tell.
Redraft, paying special attention to SHOWING, instead of TELLING.
Submit two or three paragraphs of your redraft for review on Friday.
WEEK 4 | The Final Polish
This week we’ll engage in two types of editing: (1) editing the piece as a whole for structure, voice, meaning, and flow, and (2) scrutinizing the piece at a word level to ensure that every noun, verb, adjective, and adverb is essential to move your plot forward and precise in its meaning.
After a final proof for errors in grammar, spelling, tense, punctuation, and typing, you’ll be ready to share your story out loud as The Storyteller’s Studio comes alive with your voices reading aloud in the final class next week.
Edit and polish your story.
Rehearse your story to share aloud with the group in our final Google hangout.
WEEK 5 | Sharing Our Stories
This week in our final Google hangout, The Storyteller’s Studio comes alive with your voices.
Come prepared to share your story with your classmates.
Download a Sample Independent Study Schedule:
What Students Are Saying
What I love most about Cindy is her ability to see nuggets of inspiration in a student’s writing and to develop those nuggets into something real. Cindy is a cheerleader in the best way; she’s candid about what works and what doesn’t. She’s quick with suggestions but knows when to hold back and let her student do the work. She GETS storytelling. She listens. She has an innate ability to know what each student needs and adapts so that it’s the writing that shines, not the teacher. I participated in an online class that included seasoned writers and novices, and was amazed at how Cindy was able to meet each writer exactly where she or he was. I wholeheartedly recommend her as a writer, an editor, and a teacher.Lisa Allen
When I joined Cindy’s class, I didn’t expect to want to make time for the weekly hangouts even when I was on vacation. I didn’t expect that I would miss seeing my classmates’ faces each week once the course was done. I didn’t expect it to be a journey of self-discovery. Cindy’s storytelling class does teach the technical aspects of creating compelling content, but it is so much more. Because of her class, I wrote several story driven blog posts for The NotMom about experiences that were deeply personal. People called me brave, but all I could think about was the bravery of Cindy putting herself out there that gave me the catalyst to tell my story. You do not want to miss this opportunity.Laura LaVoie
Cindy helped me understand that I could better convey my love for people, nature, and adventure through stories with powerful words. Her ideas and guidance changed the way that I think about writing and speaking. I learned about showing people the power of my experience instead of merely telling them what happened. Now I strive to create visual adventure stories with more passion (and fewer adverbs). My time invested with Cindy was invaluable and I look forward to learning more from her in the future.Lee Watson
Before I took a writing course from Cindy, every piece sounded like the last. She taught me to focus on the story. Her courses have turned hundreds of people from different professional backgrounds into masters of storytelling. She’s a true inspiration.Cristina Kollet
Cindy has been fantastic as my guide and sensei! Her lively spirit and coaching infused each session, and that spirit instilled joy and confidence in me and my ability to succeed. She is supportive, knowledgeable, and a whole lot of fun! I continue to benefit from her encouragement.Diane Wilkerson
Cindy’s well-rounded curriculum provided excellent tools for writing and crafting. She helped to demystify the process and gave me a solid foundation. Her insightful teaching has been pivotal to my career.Elizabeth Phaire
I am a writer, teacher, and speaker. My passion is the science of storytelling — how humans are hard-wired to connect with each other through story. Story bonds us by creating shared communal experiences.
Writing. I blog at The Reedster Speaks, where I write with humor about family life, mental illnesss, and my underwear. I’m a three-time winner of BlogHer’s Voices of the Year award, in the humor and Op-Ed categories, and my work has appeared on The Huffington Post, Vibrant Nation, In the Powder Room, yeah write, Aiming Low, I Just Want to Pee Alone, and WhatToExpect.com.
Teaching. I’ve taught writing in one form or another since I was in law school back in the Reagan era, continuing throughout my careers as a lawyer, an academic, and a writer. I’m a Master Online Teacher certified by the Illinois Online Network, and I’ve been teaching online since 2004.
Speaking. I started speaking in front of audiences at my high school graduation and I pretty much haven’t shut up since. In addition to presenting on the craft of writing, I also speak about the oldest story of all – the hero’s journey. Now at the half-century mark, I’m on career three and I use my story to inspire others to accept their calls to adventure and follow their passions.
I live in Asheville, North Carolina, with my husband, two daughters, and three dogs, including a giant Saint Bernard. You might think I thrive on chaos. I do not.