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Learn How to Write Stories for Publication with Barbara Noe Kennedy, former longtime Editor of National Geographic Travel Publishing

Barbara Noe Kennedy


CLASS DATE: Monday, July 6, 2020

END DATE: Monday, August 10, 2020

DURATION:  6 weeks

LOCATION:  Video, with final live webinar

FEEDBACK:  Both peer critique and instructor critique, via Facebook throughout the class, and during final live webinar

COURSE DESCRIPTION: When all is said and done, great writing is about great storytelling. Whether you’re writing an essay, newspaper travel story, nature blog, magazine feature, or food story, you need to be able to tell a story for your writing to be memorable and poignant. So how do you do this? In the simplest terms, the secret sauce is to share your personal experiences, your vulnerabilities, your humanity. Connect to the universal concerns that all of us can relate to, whether it’s being scared or determined or simply curious, and your story will come alive. But there’s more. The power of storytelling also is about knowing the “tricks of the trade,” so that your words pop off the page (or screen).

Each class we’ll take a deep dive into one important aspect of great storytelling, using successful examples from all walks of nonfiction writing. We’ll look at some tried-and-true tricks of the trade. And we’ll end each class with an exercise to get your creative juices flowing. Each class, except for the final one, will be presented as a video so that you can watch it at your leisure; our final class will bring it all together in a live online session. We’ll have a Facebook page to connect, ask questions, and share our stories throughout our time together.

This online video webinar course starts on Monday, July 6, 2020.

Every Monday, over the course of 5 weeks (Monday, July 6, 13, 20, 27, and August 3), students will receive a recorded one-hour webinar in their inbox to watch at their leisure. On the sixth Monday (August 10), we will meet live online for one hour, at a mutually agreed upon time.

The webinars can be viewed on a tablet, phone, or computer (both Mac and PC). The final class will be conducted via Zoom, for which students will receive a private link.


This course is offered via recorded webinar that are shared each week and you can review at your leisure. Webinars are workshops given online, where you can view the instructor and websites/materials she shares on her screen, making it an interactive experience. Webinars make learning from your home or office convenient.


I’ve just completed Barbara Noe Kennedy’s “Travel Writing in a Digital World.” I learned more in this class in six weeks than I did at four writing conferences combined. Barbara is obviously a professional, with a great deal of knowledge and experience. She was completely accessible, and always encouraging. I will watch for more classes from her—and I’ll be the first to sign up! ~ Shirley Drew

Barbara was the perfect travel writing teacher. She’s experienced in the industry and appreciates students’ unique voices. She’s very encouraging and worked with me on my first published story. ~ Peter J.

I was privileged to be in Barbara’s Creative Nonfiction writing class at Graduate School USA last spring. I was nervous for my first-ever writing class, but Barbara’s welcoming spirit quickly turned my trepidation into excitement that grew from week to week. She had just the right mix of encouragement and constructive feedback that gelled our small class, helping us learn from one another and begin to formulate our own comments and suggestions on the fly. That is not easy to do with a class of mostly new writers! I also appreciated how she selected readings that prompted us to think about our work differently, while encouraging us to explore topics and areas that spoke to us. I will always be grateful for her support, advice, and enthusiasm about my writing. ~ Andrea L.P.

Besides having a mastery of the subject, Barbara had a distinct rapport with everyone in our class. Her comments and constructive criticism were always right-on. ~ Barry G.

Barbara is a top-notch teacher. She uses an excellent mix of hands-on writing skills and real world examples of writing. She helps guide writers without trying to change their style or voice. I learned so much from her class that I use in my personal writing and my professional life. ~ Cat E.

Genuine and kind, Barbara’s skillful instruction inspires. Barbara facilitates a comfortable atmosphere for learning and exploring. ~ Lisa B.


Class One: Introduction to Storytelling

Date: Recorded webinar to be sent Monday, July 6

Duration: 1 hour

We’ll take a broad look at storytelling through the ages and what it means to us today. Start thinking about how this relates to your own stories that you want to tell.

Topics covered include:

  • Class overview
  • What is storytelling?
  • Your unique perspective
  • Why do some stories pull you in?
  • Some tips to get started

Assignment: Start making a list of possible stories that you want to tell. Read handouts.

Class Two: Beginnings, Middles, and Ends

Date: Recorded webinar to be sent Monday, July 13

Duration: 1 hour

This class we’ll take a deep dive into the story structure, whether it’s a magazine feature or a sports article. Where should you start and end your story? Narrative arcs sound boring—do we need them? (Yes.) And why do we need a universal theme? Tricks of the trade include tapping into our five senses.

Topics covered include:

  • What Ifs
  • Writing a great first sentence
  • Narrative arc
  • Universal theme
  • Detailed reporting
  • Tricks of the trade: five senses

Assignment: At-home exercise centering on “what if” statements and how they are seeds to your stories. Read handouts.

Class Three: Building Character

Date: Recorded webinar to be sent Monday, July 20

Duration: 1 hour

This class delves into developing your characters. How do you come up with compelling characters and bring them to life? Tricks of the trade include the importance of color (it’s fun, you’ll see!).

Topics covered include:

  • How to create memorable characters
  • Internal vs. external features
  • Wants vs. needs
  • Character arc
  • Stakes
  • Dialogue
  • Tricks of the trade: a palette of colors

Assignment: Studying characters through favorite movies (you’ll see—it’s fun!). Read handouts.

Class Four: Building Your World

Date: Recorded webinar to be sent Monday, July 27

Duration: 1 hour

You have your characters and your plot. But they need a world to live in. How do we create a realistic one?

Topics covered include:

  • Elements of setting, including time, place, context
  • How do you make your world real?
  • Tricks of the trade: a toolbox of verbs

Assignment: Studying different worlds (again, you’ll see!). Work on the story that you would like to share in the final class. Read handouts.

Class Five: You’re Done. Now What?

Date: Recorded webinar to be sent Monday, August 3

Duration: 1 hour

Congratulations! You’re done with your story. But chances are, you’re not quite there yet. How do you take your story to the next level? And how do you turn it into a polished, published piece?

Topics covered include:

  • Sh*tty first drafts
  • Editing and copyediting tips
  • Mini-publishing overview (based on preferences of the class, we’ll look at article publishing and/or book publishing)
  • Tricks of the trade: end sentences with gusto

Assignment: Finish stories that you want to share for in-class critique. Read handouts.

Class Six: Bringing It All Together

Date: Recorded webinar to be sent Monday, August 10

Duration: 1 hour

We will have a live seminar in which the instructor shares insights based on your own writings that you have created during this class. She will be available to answer questions and provide guidance in a free-flowing and fun ending to the course.

Topics covered include:

  • The instructor will ask everyone beforehand what they would like covered and cater this final class to that.

Materials needed: All written materials and resources are provided by the instructor. She will provide PDFs of sample travel stories to read ahead of each class.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR: Barbara Noe Kennedy is a former longtime editor with National Geographic Travel Publishing. She currently works as a fulltime freelance travel writer, with credits including Fodor’s, Lonely Planet, London Telegraph, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, National Geographic, and more. She also teaches travel writing and creative nonfiction.

COST:  $150, which includes six 60-minute webinars (including a final live one), and virtual communication with your instructor.

BUY NOW: The Power of Storytelling with Barbara Noe Kennedy (6 weeks, starting 7/6/2020) Limit: 10 students. Early registration is recommended.

This class is now closed. Please check out the WOW Classroom for the current schedule.

For Class Session Starting 7/6/2020


Notes:  Upon successful completion of payment, your name, email address, and contact info will be submitted to your instructor. Just before class begins, she will e-mail you with instructions on how to get started.

Questions? Email Marcia & Angela at:

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