Tell It Slant: Author Brenda Miller on Writing Creative Nonfiction and a Generous Excerpt from the Book

Introduction to an Excerpt from Tell it Slant (Available from Powell’s and Amazon as well as your favorite bookseller). By Brenda Miller In 2001, when Suzanne Paola and I began talking about writing a textbook for creative nonfiction, no such book existed. We had been cobbling together our own instructional materials for years, and together … Continue reading

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We All Have Opinions: The Argument and Persuasion Essay

Following the opinion pieces by Amy Hewes posted over the past two weeks, here is instruction on writing the argument and persuasion personal essay. It appeared in Writing It Real in 2014. I look forward to hearing from you in the comment section about your own experience writing in this form and about how this … Continue reading

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Keeping the Political Personal: “To Give or to Deny” by Journalist Amy Hewes

As I wrote last week, I feel lucky to have recently had journalist Amy Hewes on my KPTZ FM radio program, “In Conversation: Discussions on Writing and the Writing Life.”  Here’s the link to listen to our conversation.  In it, Amy explains how she goes about writing her opinion pieces, and her explanation will help those … Continue reading

The Opinion Piece: The Great Connector by Amy Hewes

I was lucky enough to have recently had journalist Amy Hewes on my KPTZ FM radio program, “In Conversation: Discussions on Writing and the Writing Life.”  Here’s the link to listen to our conversation.  In it, Amy explains how she goes about writing her opinion pieces, and her explanation will help those of us interested in … Continue reading

In My Opinion: Letter to My Husband’s Uncle

5/9/19 Hello Harlan, We had a wonderful time recently celebrating my mother’s 92nd birthday with my daughter’s family and her in-laws, who have moved from the Midwest to a town just north of Seattle to be near their son and grandsons. They are originally from the southern part of India and came here years ago … Continue reading

Tender is the Harvest, A Winning Essay by Laurie McConnachie

Our contest judge Holly Hughes  wrote these words in choosing Laurie McConnachie’s essay as one of our three winners: This is a deeply moving account of a daughter who lost her mother to a brain tumor when she was in her late 20s—and how she learns to move through grief and open her heart to … Continue reading

Beginning Again with Tree Spirits by Katlaina Rayne

I am pleased to share another essay by a Writing It Real member. “Beginning Again with Tree Spirits” illustrates the diverse topics our members write about. Reading Katlaina’s essay will definitely change your relationship to the trees and forests in your towns and counties as well as inspire courage to write about topics you fear … Continue reading

“In Honor of Mr. Alfred Scott,” by Jean Peelen

As Black History Month ends and we have learned more about black religious leaders, scientists, politicians, professors, film directors, sports figures, journalists, poets and authors, among many other professions, those of other ethnicities have had an opportunity to reflect on how learning of the strife of an oppressed group changed the trajectory of their own … Continue reading

Tornado Watch by Carol Smallwood

Writing It Real contributor Carol Smallwood is a poet with several volumes to her name, a retired career librarian who has produced books of value to those who direct and run libraries and educational programs, and she is the editor of writing books for new and experienced writers and teachers of writing. In 2018 she … Continue reading

A Writing Buffet-Help Yourself!

It’s time for some post-New Year’s inspiration so I am reposting a slightly updated article that is full of quotes to inspire and approaches to creating new material from that inspiration. Thirteen years ago, my grandson Toby turned three.  All of his grandparents attended his party in Seattle.  The day after, a work team was … Continue reading

The Past is Always in the Present, A New Year’s Greeting

About the size of my palm, the orange glass turtle with stout yellow feet has been with me since 1972. We started out in Matawan, New Jersey, where my 7th-grade class presented him to me as a goodbye gift–I was moving to the West Coast with my husband, a transferring medical student. The turtle was … Continue reading

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Writing Our Personal Stories for Others: Susan Smith’s “My Heart Attack Saved My Life”

I haven’t posted in the Writing It Real category of “Writing Makes a Difference” in a while now as I’ve concentrated on writing exercises to keep you inspired. This week, though, I am returning to that category to share Susan Smith’s account of having a heart attack. She wrote this piece because little is discussed … Continue reading

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Moving an Essay Toward Completion — Pam Robinson’s “Table of Plenty”

Pam Robinson’s entry into the fall 2011 Writing It Real contest is an essay about her memories of her mother’s cooking and life on a farm. As I spend time harvesting onions, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, various beans, Asian pears and soon apples and second crop radishes from my own garden, I resonate with the harvest … Continue reading

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An Approach to Writing Flash Nonfiction

Flash prose, sometimes called flash literature, is creative writing between 500 and 1500 words. This term includes further subgenres prose poetry, short essays and vignettes. Like the longer essay, or something now called short memoir, the flash personal essay evokes experience and arrives at discovery through the writer’s telling. Because it is short, it maintains a firm focus … Continue reading

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More on How to Write the How-to Essay (and Why)

I’ve been teaching the how-to essay again and reading models. I love how the how-to format offers the personal essayist a structure that inspires poignancy, honesty, and humor. Here is an excerpt from my book Writing and Sharing Personal Essays. And for after you’ve read about this style essay and the sample essay in the … Continue reading

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“Disturbing the Calm” by Judith Kvinsland, 1st Place

Our contest judge, Kelli Agodon, wrote this of her first choice piece in the fall/winter 2018 writing contest: Judith Barker Kvinsland’s essay, “Disturbing the Calm,” explores how sometimes, despite the ease of our lives, we need to take a risk. It is a thoughtful exploration of family, responsibility, and location, where the author learns something … Continue reading

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The Flash Sequence: A Form for Saying the Unsayable

The flash sequence uses poetic leaps of association for examining the impact of difficult-to-articulate circumstances. Sometimes it is accomplished in journal entries, other times with meditations about place, or people or objects. Sometimes it is composed of collections of scenes. Whatever the container of the sequence, the form is undoubtedly a psychological exploration, often of … Continue reading

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A Writing Exercise to Help You Arrive at Deep Material

Many say that the hardest part of writing is moving from daily activities to being able to create work that transcends the daily. There are ways, though, to launch new writing that unexpectedly gets you to your deepest material while allowing you to make the shift easily. What follows is an exercise that is meant … Continue reading

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Write Your Own Manifesto

For several years now, I have been interviewing writers, editors, writing program directors and publishers for ?In Conversation: Discussions on Writing and the Writing Life,? my regular program on KPTZ FM radio. At Writing It Real, we archive the programs, after they have aired, to maintain permanent links to all of the interviews. Over the … Continue reading

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A Must Read for Personal Essayists: “Learning to Drive” by Katha Pollitt

This is a revised and updated article based on one from 2002 when I first read “Learning to Drive: A Year of Unexpected Lessons” by Katha Pollitt, published in The New Yorker magazine. I hope you’ll read the essay and go on to read my discussion of it, which includes an excerpt of review of the film (now … Continue reading

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