Level 1: The Art of Narrative Nonfiction (starts May 5)


Are you captivated by the art of storytelling? Do you yearn to weave real-life events into narratives that grip readers from start to finish? Have you long been curious about a creative nonfiction writing course?

Join New York Times bestselling author Kathryn Aalto on an immersive journey into the world of narrative nonfiction. In this transformative and introductory creative writing course, you’ll delve deep into the craft of crafting compelling true stories that resonate with authenticity and emotion. Drawing upon Kathryn’s wealth of experience as both an author and educator, you’ll uncover the techniques and strategies used by master storytellers to bring real-life events to life on the page.

Through engaging lectures, insightful discussions, and hands-on exercises, you’ll learn how to do the following:

  • Develop captivating story ideas rooted in reality
  • Craft dynamic characters and settings that leap off the page
  • Use narrative techniques to build suspense, evoke emotion, and keep readers hooked
  • Conduct thorough research and fact-checking to ensure accuracy and credibility
  • Structure your narrative for maximum impact and resonance

Whether you’re a seasoned writer looking to sharpen your skills or a newcomer eager to explore the world of creative or narrative nonfiction, this live online course offers something for everyone. Join Kathryn’s community of award-winning writers and discover the power of creative nonfiction to inform, inspire, and entertain.

This is a live online creative nonfiction writing course limited to 16 people.


  • 7:00 to 9:30 PM BST
  • Every other Sunday
  • May 5/19, June 2/16/30, July 14/21/28



The Art of Narrative Nonfiction is a lively and enriching introduction to the personal essay and narrative nonfiction. 

You will become a cinematic storyteller immersing the reader in scenes that show rather than tell as you learn eight essential foundational techniques to elevate your writing, including narrative presence, narrative arc, setting, characterisation, dialogue/monologue, language, voice, and research.

This course follows a rhythm of in-depth lectures, engaging discussions of readings, supportive writing workshops, in-class writing exercises, and at-home essay writing.  We begin with a study of the personal essay and embark on a journey into memoir, travel writing, nature writing, and more.

Kathryn will also model how to create create an intentional writing practice and help you find a rhythm and mindset that works best for you and your life. This includes an understanding of the different phases of writing, learning when you write best, becoming an active rather than passive reader, integrating personal journaling into your practice, and writing for well-being.

Each class follows a lecture, discussion, and workshop format with reflective writing exercises sprinkled throughout the 2.5 hour courses. Though classes are structured, Kathryn takes cues from students about their needs and intuitively shortens or lengthens the structure of the course based on the needs of students. There is a 10-minute tea break mid-way through each class.

Learn more about creative nonfiction here.


Writing can often be a solitary pursuit, but Kathryn’s writing courses are characterised by a warm fellowship and positive accountability that keep you comfortably supported and focused on your writing goals. Each session you gather with your classmates, you will learn from and teach each other while gaining a new set of friends who share your writing aspirations and growth mindset.

Kathryn’s teaching philosophy is focused on encouraging a uniquely personal exploration of writing. At its core, she believes teaching is about responding to each student, whether they are an emerging writer or writing beyond the level of content mastery. She cultivates a mindful and supportive learning environment that fosters personal expression, critical thinking, and artistic growth in the literary arts. Strongly influenced by the Harkness method founded at the Phillips Exeter Academy where her three children were educated, Kathryn provides a democratic learning space that emphasizes the art of conversation and active listening. 

Kathryn is a passionate practitioner and teacher of narrative nonfiction.  For more than twenty-five years, she has taught writing and literature courses at colleges and universities including Western Washington University, Everett Community College, and Plymouth University, and has given guest lectures at Cambridge University, Vanderbilt University, Cornell University, and more. She has a global mentoring practice, guides students in a vibrant online writing school, and leads in-person retreats, courses, and workshops in the United States and United Kingdom.

She is a judge for The Nature Chronicles Prize, an international bi-annual award for nature writing in the English language. She is represented by Peter McGuigan at Ultra Literary in New York City. As a public speaker, she has given hundreds of talks at distinguished speakers’ series and is represented by Chartwell Speakers in New York City. 



“Kathryn possesses a rare talent to hold a learning space in such a way each participant is supported while doing the hard work of being vulnerable. She extends an invitation to share space together in a small circle across time and distance as writers gather from around the world in a digital classroom with warmth and grace.  As a new writer, I felt unsure and intimidated. Was I ready? Did I have anything interesting to say?  Kathryn dispelled my fears, welcomed me and never stopped encouraging me to stretch just a little further.  She weaves and layers lectures, writing prompts with workshopping along with insightful feedback (often with sketches!) for every session. Kathryn is attentive to the temperament of each class, pausing a little longer here, waving a brief hello to something over there. I rave about these classes! Not only for how each has helped me to learn the craft of writing but for how she has helped me discover my voice. Quite honestly, growing as a writer has profoundly affected my relationships. Deepening my relationship to self, to loved ones and the world I habit. What a joy!” — Beth Anne, New Jersey

“Margaret Atwood said ‘If you really want to write, and you’re struggling to get started, you’re afraid of something.’ Kathryn fixes those nagging fears by showing writers what we have that is already good, and what we can do better tomorrow. It’s win-win, and she remakes a traditional “class” into such an enjoyable, productive journey. I’ve also been lucky enough to experience the awe-inspiring surroundings and warm community that form the bedrock of the Rural Writing Institute. It’s not often that you can genuinely say that one long weekend shifted the way you look at the world, but the effects are still with me in my reading and writing years later.” — Caroline, Aberdeen, Scotland

“After six months of working with Kathryn–which is a bit like entering the space of a handwritten letter, what with her sharp aesthetic sense, far-ranging intelligence, wit, and curiosity–I’ve made tangible progress on an unwieldy, long-form project I was struggling to articulate. I came to her Memoir and Life Writing class for accountability, and came away having experienced the kind of support, writing insight, and real feeling of friendship that can be difficult to find in a workshop environment. Kathryn fostered a warm, charming atmosphere in class (a real feat online), allowing for life-long connections to develop among our group of writers. She cares about the arc of her student’s writing lives–a form of attention that encourages artistic growth and positive risk-taking. She not only brought her years of writing and publishing experience to class and to our bi-monthly writing assignments (her personal feedback, often handwritten, is invaluable), she also brought her unique perspective. Writer-gardener-historians are, I think, particularly adept at imagining the possibilities for a piece, no matter your subject. Kathryn pushed me to dig deeper, moving my writing in new directions. No matter where one is in their writing life, working with Kathryn will be an experience of profound joy, insight, and artistic deepening.” — Veronica, Portland, Oregon