Visual story forms like the photo essay, concrete essay, pictorial essay, and paper craft essay combine textual and visual storytelling to create greater depth, meaning, and impact for the reader. In this exciting 6-week course we’ll craft innovative personal narratives that bend–and blend–genres.

spark your story is more than a writing program

For many life writers, just getting through a first draft can be a struggle—let alone realizing their dreams of being published.

I spent twenty years as a student of writing before I felt I could tell my stories artfully and finally got serious about submitting my work.

For years I focused on learning the tools and techniques poets and fiction writers use to tell their stories beautifully.

The feedback to my writing was always positive. But my writing–and my writing life–changed dramatically after I took a course on the lyric essay and learned the power of form.

IT’S AN APPROACH TO STORYTELLING THAT WILL TRANSFORM YOUR WRITING

Since I launched my first writing course in January 2016 I’ve witnessed dozens of writers shape their experiences into powerful memoir.

Many have realized their dream of getting published, and finally feel comfortable calling themselves “real” writers.

Several have been nominated for awards for the writing they produced in my course.

These writers made incredible

art

when they gave careful consideration to their story’s

architecture

Amazing things happened for my writing, too, when I started experimenting with non-linear forms.

Once I discovered the lyric essay, turning my memories into memoir became a lot easier and more fun. I started consistently crafting work that was accepted for publication–and a few even won awards.

I’ve seen incredible things happen in a very short period of time for the writers with whom I’ve shared what I know about non-linear, hybrid, and fragmented forms, too.

Visual Story Course writer Karen Zey photo

Karen Zey’s

work has been published in a number of literary journals; her lyric essay, “Lessons in Hugs”, was nominated for Crack the Spine’s Best of the Net 2018 award

Visual story course student Karen Zey facebook post

*Spark Your Visual Story was formerly called Outliers 2.

Visual story course writer Rowan McCandless photo

Rowan McCandless

won the 2018 Constance Rooke prize for her essay, “Found Objects”

Visual story course Rowan McCandless facebook post
Visual story course writer Deanna Partridge-David

Deanna Partridge-David’s

first lit mag submission, “Lost and Found”, was published in Room 41.1

“After CNF Outliers sparked what became my first published essay, I was eager to learn more.

Spark Your Visual Story has delivered more inspiration with new, creative forms that have endless possibilities for sharing stories and catching an editor’s eye.

With provocative examples and heaps of encouragement, Nicole deepens the ways we can express ourselves. I’m excited about the parts of the stories that emerge in the negative spaces and in the relationships between the elements of these CNF forms. I’m having so much fun!”

This is one of the best writing courses I have taken.

Each lesson included thoughtful insights from Nicole and carefully selected material that illustrated the different types of visual art and writing that we explored each week. Through these lessons and Nicole’s detailed and thorough feedback, I was inspired to write more creatively and to tell stories that I might not otherwise have told. Nicole is one of the warmest and most constructive instructors I have had the pleasure of working with. Thank you, Nicole, for inspiring me and helping me become a better writer.

Lyndsay Knowles

Transform Your Writing

In Spark Your *Visual* Story I’ll show you to:

Write through blocks and tackle difficult subject matter

Focus and organize your material–making key decisions early in the drafting process on what to include and what to cut

Craft your life-changing experiences into shapely, compelling narratives

Create a deep connection with readers and

Surprise and delight editors who’ve “seen it all”

All by learning about
the combined power of

form and craft.

Visual Story Course Description

Join a small cohort of ten writers for a 6-week exploration into the creative possibilities of the diptych, triptych, visual essay, and decentered hermit crab essay.

We’ll read and discuss genre-bending, non-linear narratives by Katharine Haake, Monet Patrice Thomas, Eric LeMay, Randon Billings Noble, Erica Trabold, and Christine Wilks with an emphasis on how form and craft work together to create powerful narratives.

In addition to weekly readings, discussions in our private forum, and skill-building pre-writing exercises, writers will submit five written assignments—one for each new form, plus a final revision— for instructor feedback.

By the end of the course, learners will understand the importance of structure for crafting memorable stories, and will have the tools to write stronger, more powerful personal narratives.

Whether you’re new to creative non-fiction—or an experienced writer ready to get experimental— this course has everything you need to start telling your stories in innovative new ways that will connect with readers and make an unforgettable impact.

How It Works

reading & resources

You’ll deconstruct non-linear and genre-bending narratives by a diverse selection of writers. You’ll also learn how to revise and where to publish.

CRAFT MINI-LESSONS

You’ll study essential tools and techniques borrowed from poets and fiction writers that will make your stories more compelling and memorable.

q&a

You’ll dig deeper into process, inspiration and craft in interviews with established writers working in each of these visual story forms.

ONLINE DISCUSSION FORUM

You’ll enhance your learning by asking questions, discussing readings, and sharing insights in our friendly online writer’s community.

exercises & assignments

You’ll spark new story ideas with exercises designed to tap intuition, improve craft skills, and ignite a first draft of each written assignment.

Constructive Feedback

You’ll receive personalized, constructive feedback on each draft you submit, centered on what’s working well and recommended next steps.

“I was fortunate enough to stumble upon Nicole Breit’s visual essay course at just the right time—at a point in my life when I was eager to explore new types of writing and when I actually had the time to do so. It’s the kind of course that asks you to go deep, but that rewards you for all your hard work.

I’ve taken other online writing courses over the years and this has proven to be the most valuable by far, both in terms of the skills I have developed and the possibilities it has ignited in my head. This course is a gift to the writing community—as is its instructor.”

Ann Douglas

author of Parenting Through the Storm and weekend parenting columnist for CBC Radio

Creative writing instructor Nicole Breit.

I 'm Nicole Breit

  • Award winning poet and essayist residing on Canada’s gorgeous Sunshine Coast, the traditional territory of the Skwx̱wú7mesh people.
  • Creative writing teacher whose passion is to help writers discover new ways to shape their memories into well-crafted narratives.

Ready to craft your visual story?

Your investment $399 USD

wHAT’S NEXT

Once enrolled in the program you’ll be asked to create an account to access our course platform. It’s an easy, one-step process—just enter your email address and a password to log in!

Sign in for immediate access to some introductory materials, including a welcome letter, the course schedule with assignment due dates, and tips on getting started with our discussion forum.

On the program start date you’ll get access to the first lesson. A new lesson will be unlocked every Monday for the duration of the program, but you’re welcome to connect in our online forum anytime!

“Nicole Breit is changing the landscape of creative nonfiction writing and experimental form in an inviting and innovative environment.

Forms that felt daunting initially quickly transformed into thrilling explorations through lessons bristling with boundary pushing readings, histories, sub-forms, and angles of approach. Spark Your Visual Story could not be more aptly named.”

Shirley Harshenin

“This course helped me push my writing in new ways I didn’t think possible.

Thanks to Nicole’s inspiration and guidance creating within these new forms, I was able to write a concrete essay picked up by Atticus Review, and also win an honorable mention in the Pigeon Pages flash contest judged by Alexander Chee.”

Emily James

“Spark Your Visual Story awakened me to myriad new dimensions in storytelling.

It focused my writer’s eye on the forms and philosophies of the visual arts, where I discovered fresh and arresting ways to shape personal stories that resonate with editors and readers.”

Deborah Elderhorst

“Both of Nicole’s courses helped move the margins of my writing. The lessons are well crafted and provide writers with a variety examples, tools and assignments that comfortably ‘force’ experimentation with new forms. The decentred hermit crab essay and the interactive essays were especially mind-blowing—there is so much unexplored territory to cover in CNF. And the cherry on top?

Nicole’s feedback is invaluable.

Most of the material I produced in Nicole’s courses has been published or is forthcoming. You’ll regret not taking the leap.”

Rachel Laverdiere

get started