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WOW! Women On Writing Workshops & Classes

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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


START DATE: Monday, January 3, 2022

END DATE: Monday, February 7, 2022

DURATION:  6 weeks

LOCATION:  Video, with final live webinar

FEEDBACK:   Both peer critique and instructor critique, via Slack throughout the class, and during final live webinar. Students are invited to submit one story up to 1,200 words for discussion during the final class. (If you haven’t used Slack, don’t worry; it’s easy!)

COURSE DESCRIPTION: When all is said and done, great writing is about great storytelling. Whether you’re writing a personal 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 adding “pizzazz,” 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 ways to add “pizzazz” to your writing. And we’ll end each class with an exercise to get your creative juices flowing. Through the course of the class, you’ll be encourage to work on your own story, which you are invited to present for critique and discussion during our last class—which will be live via Zoom. Weeks one through five will be presented as a video so that you can watch at your leisure. We’ll have a Slack page to connect, ask questions, and share our stories throughout our time together.

This online video webinar course starts on Monday, January 3, 2022.

Every Monday, over the course of five weeks (Monday, January 3, 10, 17, 24, and 31), students will receive a recorded one-hour webinar in their inbox to watch at their leisure. During the sixth week (February 7), 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. The last class will be live via Zoom.


Your sessions have been invaluable to me. The writing examples and the exercises have resonated with me and led me to explore different approaches to my writing. Your detailed lessons on character, POV, voice, settings have been practical and immediately applicable. I love your Pizzazz approach and the extra oomph it adds. Your feedback and that of my classmates was encouraging and insightful. I couldn’t ask for more. ~ Christy Schwan

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, January 3, 2022

Duration: 1 hour

We’ll take a broad look at storytelling through the ages and what it means to us today. What are the universal themes? Start thinking about how this relates to your own stories that you want to tell. We’ll also look at some fun ways to add “pizzazz” to your writing, including the use of metaphors and similes.

Topics covered include:

  • Class overview
  • What is storytelling?
  • Where do great ideas come from?
  • The importance of universal themes
  • Your unique perspective
  • Some tips to get started
  • Sign-off exercise: Twitter stories

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

Class Two: Middles

Date: Recorded webinar to be sent Monday, January 10, 2022

Duration: 1 hour

We start off looking at the essence of your story, how scenes work together to propel the action—a key element is tension. Narrative arcs sound boring—do we need them? (Yes.) We’ll use our readings as models to explore the nuts-and-bolts. Adding “pizzazz” includes cliché avoidance, the importance of details, and listening for the music.

Topics covered include:

  • Scenes as building blocks
  • Building tension
  • Five points of storytelling
  • Narrative arc
  • Sign-off exercise: five-line poem

Assignment: At-home exercise centering on plotting narrative arcs and taking cues from poetry. Read handouts. Work on your story.

Class Three: Beginnings and Endings

Date: Recorded webinar to be sent Monday, January 17, 2022

Duration: 1 hour

Beginnings and endings are the most difficult part of the story to write—and it’s key to get them right. This class presents different solutions to beginning and ending stories, with a deep dive into how the authors of our readings successfully pulled them off. Our “pizzazz” insights this week include pacing, hard-working verbs, and the five-senses rule.

Topics covered include:

  • A smorgasbord of great beginnings and endings
  • Writing a great first sentence
  • A look at successful beginnings and endings in our readings
  • Sign-off exercise: Using the five senses

Assignment: Study beginnings and endings in our readings. Read handouts. Work on your story.

Class Four: Character and Setting

Date: Recorded webinar to be sent Monday, January 24, 2022

Duration: 1 hour

This class delves into creating compelling characters and the world they live in. We take a look at the character arc—the narrative arc’s important sibling—and how to create realistic dialogue. We’ll also look at the fundamental elements of setting and how they can contribute to the overall storytelling. Our “pizzazz” this week takes a look at the multipronged use of color.

Topics covered include:

  • Character arc
  • Devices and techniques to capture character
  • Writing effective dialogue
  • The importance of details
  • Fundamental elements of setting
  • How to bring settings to life
  • Writing tips about place
  • Sign-off exercise: Beyond the face value of color

Assignment: Character arc and character development exercises. Read handouts. Work on your story.

Class Five: You’re Done. Now What?

Date: Recorded webinar to be sent Monday, January 31, 2022

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—and even get it published?

Topics covered include:

  • Sh*tty first drafts
  • Editing and copyediting tips
  • The uber-boring but super-important notion of fact-checking
  • Mini-publishing overview for both books and articles/stories
  • Writing your pitch/proposal and what to do when it’s accepted
  • An inside look ata some of the instructor’s published pieces

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

Class Six: Bringing It All Together

Date: Meet via Zoom sometime the week of February 7, 2022, as agreed upon by the class

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.
  • Assignment: Provide the instructor with your final story that you would like discussed.

Materials needed: All written materials and resources are provided by the instructor. She will provide PDFs of sample stories to read ahead of each recorded 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, BBC Travel, The Points Guy, 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 1/3/22) Limit: 20 students. Early registration is recommended.

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

For Class Session Starting 1/3/2022


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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