Pub. Date:
McGraw-Hill Companies,Inc.
Tell It Slant: Writing and Shaping Creative Nonfiction / Edition 1

Tell It Slant: Writing and Shaping Creative Nonfiction / Edition 1

by Brenda Miller, Suzanne Paola
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Creative nonfiction is the fastest-growing segment in the writing market. Yet, the majority of writing guides are geared toward poetry and fiction writers. Tell It Slant fills the gap. Designed for aspiring nonfiction writers, this much-needed reference provides practical guidance, writing exercises, and a detailed discussion of the range of subcategories that make up the genre, including memoir, travel writing, investigative reporting, and more.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780071444941
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Companies,Inc.
Publication date: 09/16/2004
Pages: 195
Product dimensions: 8.96(w) x 10.90(h) x 0.51(d)

About the Author

Brenda Miller has received four Pushcart Prizes for her work in creative nonfiction. Her essays have twice been selected as Notable Essays by The Best American Essays series, and her collection, Season of the Body, was a finalist for the Pen American Center Award in creative nonfiction. She is an associate professor of English at Western Washington University.

Suzanne Paola is the author of Body Toxic, a New York Times Notable Book and winner of the American Book Award. She was awarded the Brittingham Prize for her third volume of poetry, Bardo.

Table of Contents

How to Use This Book

Introduction: Where to Begin?

Part I: The Foundations of Creative Nonfiction

Chapter One: The Basics of Good Writing in Any Form

Scene Versus Exposition

Specificity and Detail

Developing Character


Point of View

Image and Metaphor

The Rhythm of Your Sentences

Try It

Suggestions for Further Reading

Chapter Two: The Particular Challenges of Creative Nonfiction

The "I" and The Eye: Framing Experience

The Autobiographical Act

The Pact with the Reader: Creating Trust

The Permutations of "Truth"

Cueing the Reader

Some Pitfalls to Avoid: "Revenge Prose" and "The Therapist’s Couch."

Try It

Suggestions for Further Reading

Part II: Unearthing Your Material

Chapter Three: The Body of Memory

The Earliest Memory

Metaphorical Memory

"Muscle Memory"

The Five Senses of Memory

Try It

Suggestions for Further Reading

Chapter Four: Writing the Family

Situating Yourself in Relationship to Family

The Use of Form

The Writer as Biographer

The Obstacle Course

Permission to Speak

Bearing Witness

Try It

Suggestions for Further Reading

Chapter Five: "Taking Place": Writing the Physical World

Start Looking

Writing About Home

Setting Scenes: Place As Character

Writing About Nature

Writing About the Environment

Witnesses to our World

Travel Writing

Try It

Chapter Six: Gathering the Threads of History

Our Historical, Universal Selves

The Ontological Layer

You Are A "Privileged Observer"

The Moose At The Window

The "When" In Addition to "What"


Suggestions for Further Reading

Chapter Seven: Writing the Arts

The Visual Arts

The Moving Image Arts


Literature: The "Reading Narrative"

Try It

Suggestions for Further Reading

Chapter Eight: Writing the Larger World

Turning Outward: Finding Your Material Outside of the Self


The Layperson’s Approach

The Expert’s Approach

Sports Writing

The Myriad Things Around Us

The Essay of Ideas

Try It

Suggestions for Further Readings

Part III: The Forms of Creative Nonfiction

Chapter Nine: The Personal Essay

The Personal Essay Tradition

The Ways Essays Work


Literary or New Journalism

The Sketch or Portrait

The Persuasive Essay


Capacity of the Personal Essay

Try It

Suggestions for Further Reading

Chapter Ten: The Lyric Essay

What is the Lyric Essay?

The Role of Intuition

Finding the "Container": Forms of the Lyric Essay

Flash Nonfiction


The Braided Essay

The "Hermit Crab" Essay

Try It

Suggestions for Further Reading

Chapter Eleven: The Elements of Personal Reportage

Cultivating The Need To Know

Using Fact As Metaphor

Researching a Key Fact Or Detail

Working With Immersion

Developing Interview Skills

Developing Print Research Skills

Winnowing Down

Try It

Suggestions for Further Reading

Chapter Twelve: The Writing Process and Revision

The Drafting Process

Global Revision vs. Line Editing

Awareness of Audience

Three Quick Fixes for Stronger Prose

An Example of the Writing Process

Try It

Suggestions for Further Readings

Last Words

Part IVThe Anthology

Preface to the Anthology

Atwood, Margaret, "Nine Beginnings"

Baker, Will, "My Children Explain the Big Issues"

Baldwin, James, "Notes of a Native Son"

Bausch, Richard, "So Long Ago"

Beard, JoAnn, "The Fourth State of Matter"

Berry, Wendell, "Enterance to the Woods"

Cooper, Bernard, "The Fine Art of Sighing"

Didion, Joan, "Goodbye To All That"

Dillard, Annie, "Total Eclipse"

Duncan, David James, "The Mickey Mantle Koan"

Fisher, M.F.K., "The Measure of My Powers" and "A Thing Shared"

Goldbarth, Albert, "After Yitzl"

Gordon, Mary, "Notes on Pierre Bonnard and My Mother’s Ninetieth Birthday"

Hemley, Robin, "Reading History To My Mother"

Iyer, Pico, "Where Worlds Collide"

Kapil, Bhanu, "Three Voices"

Kingston, Maxine Hong, "No Name Woman"

LaMott, Anne, "Why I Don’t Meditate"

Morabito, Fabio, "Screw" and "Sandpaper"

Mukerjee, Bharati, "A Four-Hundred Year Old Woman"

Price, Jennifer, "A Brief Natural History of the Pink Flamingo"

Rekdal, Paisley, "The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee"

Sanders, Scott Russell, "Buckeye"

Sedaris, David, "The Drama Bug"

Selzer, Richard, "The Knife"

Simic, Charles, "The Necessity of Poetry" (or excerpted as "Three Fragments" from In Short)

Staples, Brent, "The Coroner’s Photographs"

Sutin, Lawrence, from A Postcard Memoir

Walker, Alice, "Becoming What We're Called"

White, E.B., "Afternoon of An American Boy"

Williams, Terry Tempest, "The Clan of One-Breasted Women"

Woolf, Virginia, "The Death of The Moth"

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