Crafting The Personal Essay: A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative Non-Fiction

Crafting The Personal Essay: A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative Non-Fiction

by Dinty W. Moore
Crafting The Personal Essay: A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative Non-Fiction

Crafting The Personal Essay: A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative Non-Fiction

by Dinty W. Moore


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Award winning essayist Scott Russell Sanders once compared the art of essay writing to "the pursuit of mental rabbits"—a rambling through thickets of thought in search of some brief glimmer of fuzzy truth. While some people persist in the belief that essays are stuffy and antiquated, the truth is that the personal essay is an ever-changing creative medium that provides an ideal vehicle for satisfying the human urge to document truths as we experience them and share them with others—to capture a bit of life on paper.

Crafting the Personal Essay is designed to help you explore the flexibility and power of the personal essay in your own writing. This hands-on, creativity-expanding guide will help you infuse your nonfiction with honesty, personality, and energy. You'll discover:

 • An exploration of the basics of essay writing
 • Ways to step back and scrutinize your experiences in order to separate out what may be fresh, powerful, surprising or fascinating to a reader
 • How to move past private "journaling" and write for an audience
 • How to write eight different types of essays including memoir, travel, humor, and nature essays among others
 • Instruction for revision and strategies for getting published
Brimming with helpful examples, exercises, and sample essays, this indispensable guide will help your personal essays transcend the merely private to become powerfully universal.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781582977966
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/08/2010
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 211,943
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Dinty W. Moore earned a BA in writing from the University of Pittsburgh, worked briefly as a journalist, and also served short stints as a documentary filmmaker, modern dance performer, zookeeper, and Greenwich Village waiter. It was only after failing at each of these professions that he went on to earn an MFA in fiction writing from Louisiana State University. He has guest taught creative nonfiction seminars across the United States and in Europe. In addition to editing the internet journal, Brevity (, he is on the editorial board of Creative Nonfiction and is coordinating editor for the annual anthology Best Creative Nonfiction (W.W. Norton). Moore teaches writing at Ohio University and serves on the Board of Directors of The Association of Writers & Writing Programs.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Personal Essay, Here and Now 1

Part 1 Writing The Essay

1 The Gentle Art of the Personal Essay 4

2 The Personal (Not Private) Essay 7

3 Writing the Memoir Essay 26

4 The Woolf and the Moth 38

5 Writing the Contemplative Essay 51

6 A Closer Look: "Leisure," by Agnes Repplier 59

7 Pursuing Mental Rabbits 75

8 Writing the Lyric Essay 92

9 Of Conflict 99

10 A Closer Look: "Ah Wilderness!" Dinty W. Moore 113

11 Writing the Spiritual Essay 132

12 Who Am I Today? 139

13 Writing the Gastronomical Essay 152

14 Writing the Humorous Essay 159

15 A Closer Look: "Pulling Teeth," Dinty W. Moore 166

16 Write What you Wish you Knew 172

17 Writing the Nature Essay 186

18 Writing the Travel Essay 193

Part 2 Reaching Readers

19 On a Regular Writing Routine 200

20 Blogging and the Essay 208

21 Red Light, Green Light: Tips for Conquering Writer's Block 214

22 On Becoming an Excellent Rewriter 219

23 On Publication, Rejection, and Being Stubborn 226

Appendix A "Of Idle People who Rove About" Dinty W. Moore 234

Appendix B Recommended Readings for Writers 245

Appendix C Web Sites for Essay Writers 251

Permissions 256

Index 258

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