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Tell It Slant: Writing and Shaping Creative Nonfiction
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Tell It Slant: Writing and Shaping Creative Nonfiction

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  367 ratings  ·  43 reviews
A series of lessons on writing and creating non-fiction
Paperback, 464 pages
Published August 1st 2003 by McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
This is a great book, and if you look for it, try for the earlier edition with the anthology in the back. The most recent edition took the essays out and that makes no sense. Why read about how to write creative nonfiction and not immediately have an example?

At this point I have read most of the book in a class I am auditing, and need to return it to the library I borrowed it from. I will be on the hunt for my own copy because this is a keeper, and I can see myself returning to it for a refreshe
I'm glad I read this book, although I don't know how useful it would be to teach a very beginning writer. It's written for someone new to the genre of creative nonfiction, but often speaks in a register that's a little too advanced, I felt. The structure of it is a little strange and it wasn't always as straightforward or as clear as I would have liked, but there is still tons of helpful ideas I found and I was very glad to have read it. It includes an anthology of creative nonfiction essays of ...more
Anna Vincent
I bought this book because it reviewed well on It was a mistake. This book is for people who do not know anything about writing and who think for a second, “Maybe I’ll write a book,” perhaps because they’ve lived through some trauma. The premise for my complaints is this: The book was overly simplistic and it attempted to provide motivation.

Overly simplistic: “A metaphor is a way at getting at a truth that exists beyond the literal." This is the first chapter, which then goes on to
Patricia Florio
I used this book in my nonfiction classes at Wilkes. Let me say I'm still using this book three years later to refer to because the information in Tell It Slant must always be at my fingertips to refer to, to ingest, to get to penetrate in my head. Nonfiction is such a special genre that I want to give my readers my best writing. This book helps me reveal the creativity locked up inside my brain.
Judie Holliday
I don't think I'm a self-help-book kind of person. While I enjoyed each section of this book for a little while, I soon lost interest and had to struggle through to the next topic shift. In the first section, the authors concentrate on the 'what' of creative non-fiction. I felt that too much of what the authors said was obvious and I wasn't inspired by the prompts. I enjoyed the second section of the book best, the bit where they talked about the 'how' of writing creative non-fiction. As with se ...more
Ericka Scott Nelson
Writing something—let alone publishing it!—can seem like an impossible goal. Tell It Slant approaches writing creative nonfiction in a way I would call…comforting. Brenda Miller and Suzanne Paola are both writing teachers and accomplished writers themselves. They offer not only advice but their own experience with writing, their own creative texts, and also their own insights in a way that makes successful writing seem within reach. They emphasize the insights anyone can develop from one’s own ...more
Susan Tekulve
This was always been my favorite creative nonfiction textbook because it is both a guide to writing and an anthology. The chapters on craft are well organized and well illustrated, and the reading selections are quite good. Unfortunately, in 2004, the textbook industry made the editors of this wonderful 2003 edition create a newer edition, and in this newer 2004 edition, most of the readings are gone. The 2004 edition is just a slim volume, a shadow of this former glorious edition, and I've neve ...more
A fine quote: ""at the core of the essay is the supposition that there is a certain unity to human experience." - Yes!
"Every man has within himself the entire human condition."...These two poles --intimacy of voice and universality of significance--go to the heart of the personal essay tradition. The essay speaks confidingly, as a whispering friend, and these whispers must be made meaningful in a larger context--capturing a piece of larger human experience within the amber of your own." p 94.
Laryssa Wirstiuk
This book has something for writers at every level. Some sections - like the one that describes different types of creative nonfiction - were very basic, while others - like the one about honing craft - were more advanced. I found a lot of great stuff to share with my students, and not just about creative nonfiction. Must of the advice in this book can be applied to any genre. The writing itself is really a pleasure to read, and I can tell that Brenda and Suzanne are masters of their craft. I al ...more
This book is an introduction to writing creative nonfiction. It introduces the reader to the subgenres of creative nonfiction, gives ideas for subjects to write about, and gives advice for the writing and revising processes. Also, after every chapter, there is a selection of writing prompts, for the readers to put into practice what they have learned.
If you're trying to learn how to write creative nonfiction (or if you want to know what creative nonfiction is all about), then I think this is a g
A solid overview of the writing of creative nonfiction that worked really well as a teaching text; it's full of writing prompts and ideas, and it leaves lots of room for students, teachers, and writers to stretch out and find their places within the genre. Prescriptive enough for clarity but not so prescriptive that it's constricting. It's the best introduction to writing creative nonfiction that I've found; my students responded to it with enthusiasm and interest.
I teach out of this book, mostly because we're required to teach from something and I don't like the 4th Genre anthology. Even with 436 page version (I couldn't find it here) it's still surprisingly compact and the "try it" exercises are sometimes okay. I also like the pictures of the authors at the start of each there essays. It's the least dreary of a dreary bunch. Why can't some one publish an instructive text that is actually enjoyable to flip through?
I enjoyed the power of this book. I was in a creative writing class where this book was used and fell in love with it automatically. It offers many ways to get started on your writing...and sometimes that's all I need is a starting place. It asks you to dig deep within yourself and drag out memories which maybe you thought you'd keep hidden. I loved the class and the writing that came from it!
This book was used as a text for a Creative Non-Fiction class I audited last year. This book will remain on my shelves for as long as I need advice on my own forays in to memoir and travelogue writing...OK for as long as I live because you never know when you will need to affirm or revise your creative non-fiction writing style and techniques!
Jessica Kluthe
I find myself recommending Tell It Slant to anyone struggling with structure, and I consult it all the time myself. This book does a great job detailing different structures, and then it provides examples of stories that implement them in the second half of the book. Practical writing guide that you will likely fill with sticky-notes.

Cory Fosco
A great book for people who are either interested in writing creative nonfiction or teaching the genre. I teach from it because it helps me define the genre with concrete examples and exercises for the students. There is a longer version that includes essays from published authors.
This is an exceptionally good text on creative nonfiction. Its concise and straightforwad information covers craft, structure, and provides writing examples and practice prompts. I will use this book in my writing classes.
Kate Savage
The important thing to remember is it will come back. Your passion for writing will always return, doubled in force, after its period of dormancy. The writing life is one of patience and faith.
i wish i could give a 3. rating, because that's about where this book would land for me. better than good, but not really great. (5 stars is reserved for blow-your-socks-off amazing)
In spite of a rather amateurish page design, this is a thoughtfully designed book. I'm pulling bits and pieces of it for the 300-level Personal Essay class I'm teaching this spring.
Julie M
One of the best books on writing I've ever read - and I've read A LOT. Right up there with Stephen King's "On Writing" and Anne Lamott's "Bird by Bird." Really. Go. Read. Now.
Okay, this is one of the texts for my creative writing nonfiction class. But it's good. Great anthology in the back. A really great mix of essays from a wide range of writers.
This book explains how to write about your life in a way that is creative and people want to read. Has helped to inspire me and I will keep it as a reference book.
Scott Muck
This was a decent book on how to write creative nonfiction. If anything it is more of an motivator to get me back into writing my memoir. If only I had the time.
I have a feeling I will be referring back to this book in the future, but the initial read-through wasn't that inspirational for me. It was just okay.
Emma Sea
I haven't tried any of the writing prompts, but I found it quite an inspiring read with some interesting strategies for non-fiction writing.
Ann Lewis
Really enjoyed this book, which is the text for a Creative Nonfiction class I'm taking this semester. Be sure to get the 2nd Edition.
This was a text book for a class in creative non-fiction I'm taking.
Wonderful book. Very readable and has great prompts and ideas.
Titus Hjelm
Started sluggishly, but got better towards the end. I've liked Lee Gutkind's books better, but this is not a bad place to start.
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  • Writing Creative Nonfiction
  • The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative
  • Fearless Confessions: A Writer's Guide to Memoir
  • Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir
  • Keep It Real: Everything You Need to Know about Researching and Writing Creative Nonfiction
  • Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir
  • Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art, Second Edit
  • Creative Nonfiction: Researching and Crafting Stories of Real Life
  • The Fourth Genre: Contemporary Writers Of/On Creative Nonfiction
  • The Art of Time in Memoir: Then, Again
  • I Could Tell You Stories
  • Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do
  • Page After Page: Discover the Confidence & Passion You Need to Start Writing & Keep Writing (No Matter What!)
  • Turning Life into Fiction
  • Your Life as Story
  • Leaving a Trace: On Keeping a Journal
  • Damn! Why Didnt I Write That?: How Ordinary People are Raking in $100,000.00 or More Writing Nonfiction Books & How You Can Too!
  • The Artful Edit: On the Practice of Editing Yourself
Brenda Miller is the author of Season of the Body and co-author of Tell it Slant: Writing and Shaping Creative Nonfiction Her newest collection of essays, Blessing of the Animals, is forthcoming from Eastern Washington University Press. Her work has received five Pushcart Prizes and has been published in many journals, including Fourth Genre, Creative Nonfiction, The Sun, Utne Reader, The Georgia ...more
More about Brenda Miller...
Season of the Body: Essays Tell It Slant, 2nd Edition Blessing of the Animals The Pen and the Bell: Mindlful Writing in a Busy Listening Against the Stone: Meditations

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