Winding Roads: Exercises in Writing Creative Nonfiction / Edition 1

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Written by an award-winning author Diane Thiel, Winding Roads: Exercises in Composing Creative Nonfiction offers exciting and challenging exercises with accompanying models which help focus student writing and allow instructors to address specfic elements of writing creative nonfiction. Vital examples in an extensive selection of readings serve as models and exercises address each element of writing creative nonfiction separately, while building towards an understanding of all the elements which go into creating an effective piece of writing.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780321429896
  • Publisher: Longman
  • Publication date: 1/1/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.29 (w) x 9.05 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

Diane Thiel is the author of six books of poetry, nonfiction, and creative writing pedagogy: Echolocations (Nicholas Roerich Prize, 2000),

Writing Your Rhythm (2001), The White Horse: A Colombian Journey (2004), Resistance Fantasies (2004), Crossroads: Creative Writing Exercises in Four Genres (Longman, 2005) and Open Roads: Exercises in Writing Poetry (Longman, 2005). Her work appears in major journals including Poetry, The Hudson Review,The Sewanee Review, Best American Poetry 1999, among numerous others, and is reprinted in more than 30 major anthologies, including Twentieth Century American Poetry (McGraw Hill, 2004) and Contemporary American Poetry (Longman, 2005). Thiel received her BA and MFA from Brown University and has traveled and lived in various countries in Europe and South America. She has been a professor of creative writing for more than 15 years. A recipient of numerous awards including the Robert Frost and Robinson Jeffers Awards, and a recent Fulbright Scholar, she is on the creative writing faculty at the University of New Mexico.

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Preface to the Instructor


I. Beginning/Points of Inspiration

Keeping a Journal

Family Stories: History as Heartbeat

Memory and Imagination

Telling Lies to tell the Truth

Making the Old Story New

A Picture Brings Forth a Thousand Words

Object Lessons

II. Exercises for Developing Craft and Technique

Voice and Style

Finding Your True Subjects

A Question of Style

Conditional Voice

Breaking the Rules

Perspective and Point of View

Choosing Points of View

Innocent Perspective

Using Biography

Detail, Image, and Symbol

Detailing a Narrative

Turning Abstractions into Images and Action

Using all of Your Senses

Writing from Art

Symbols, not Cymbals

Figurative Language


Origins of Words

Foreign Flavor


Tell-Tale Dialect


Setting with Personality

Setting from Family History

Setting Your Hometown

Creating Tension

Foundations of Tension

A Spell of Trouble: Conflict and Tension

Reversing the Action

Trading Characters, Settings, Conflicts

Reverberating Closure


Finding Your Rhythm

Song and Story

Listening to Nature

Character and Dialogue

Populating a Piece

Inside a Character’s Mind

Compelling Characters

Dialogue Dropping from the Eaves

III. Exercises for Exploring Revision, Sub-genres and Frequent Concerns of Creative Nonfiction


Re-reading, Re-imagining, Re-shaping

What’s in a Name: Finding a Title

Revision: Beyond the Frame

Revision: Re-imagining Character and Conflict

Creating Scenes: A Revision Narrative

Workshop: Thirteen Ways of Looking for Revision

Exploring the Sub-genres of Creative Nonfiction

From Memory to Memoir

Biographical Sketch: Researching a Life

Personal Opinion Essay: Taking a Stand

Living Sources: Gathering and Using Information

Reflective Writing: Reflecting on the World

Writing About Place

A Piece of History

Exploring Frequent Concerns of Creative Nonfiction

Finding the Emotional Truth

Writing Between the Lines: Subtext

Time-lines and the Larger Context

The Passage of Time

Mapping Your Memory


Writing Inside the Story: Meta-writing

IV. A Collection of Creative Nonfiction

Diane Ackerman, “The Truth about Truffles”

Sherman Alexie, “Superman and Me”

Rudolfo Anaya, “Why I Love Tourists: Confessions of a Dharma Bum”

Wendell Berry, “An Entrance to the Woods”

Philip Brady, “Myth and Uncertainty” from To Prove My Blood: A Tale of Emigration and the Afterlife

Bruce Chatwin, from In Patagonia

Wayson Choy, from Paper Shadows: A Chinatown Childhood

Judith Ortiz Cofer, “Silent Dancing”

Fred D’Aguiar, “A Son in Shadow”

Edwidge Danticat, “Westbury Court”

Rhina Espaillat, “Bilingual/Bilingue”

Shirley Geok-lin Lim, “Splendor and Squalor” from Among the White Moon Faces: An Asian-American Memoir of Homelands

Dana Gioia, “Lonely Impulse of Delight: One Reader’s Childhood”

Joy Harjo, “The Flying Man”

Jamaica Kincaid, “Biography of a Dress”

Barry Lopez, “Landscape and Narrative”

Naomi Shihab Nye, “Three Pokes of a Thistle”

Hilda Raz, “Looking at Aaron” from What Becomes You

Leslie Marmon Silko, “Landscape, History, and the Pueblo Imagination”

Jonathan Swift, “A Modest Proposal”

Diane Thiel, “Crossing the Border” from The White Horse: A Colombian Journey

Henry David Thoreau, “Walking”

Alice Walker, “Am I Blue”

Anthony Walton, from Mississippi

Terry Tempest Williams, “Peregrine Falcon,” from Refuge

V. Writers About the Art of Creative Nonfiction

Margaret Atwood, “Nine Beginnings”

Lee Gutkind, “The Creative Nonfiction Police”

Tracy Kidder, “Making the Truth Believable”

Brett Lott, “Toward a Definition of Creative Nonfiction”

Gregory Martin, “Other People’s Memories”

John McNally, “Humor Incarnate”

Sue Miller, “From a Lecture on Revision”

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