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

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  552 Ratings  ·  51 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
Sep 20, 2009 Jenny rated it liked it
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
Patricia Florio
Apr 08, 2012 Patricia Florio rated it really liked it
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.
Ericka Scott Nelson
Sep 30, 2012 Ericka Scott Nelson rated it really liked it
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
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
Lila Kladreau
Apr 30, 2016 Lila Kladreau rated it liked it
I read this book initially for a creative nonfiction class then repurchased it many years later for a re-read as I couldn't get some of the stories out of my head.

Reading it both then and now, I found the actual teaching section of the book to be light on concrete advice. However, they used examples to excellent effect regularly. A particularly memorable section quotes a paragraph from a story written by a surgeon describing a surgery. It is a spectacular moment in a fairly bland tale and works
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
Susan Tekulve
Sep 09, 2012 Susan Tekulve rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 12, 2010 Sandy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 01, 2011 Laryssa Wirstiuk rated it really liked it
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
John Hawkins
Apr 08, 2016 John Hawkins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful writing about how to write non-fiction creatively. The back cover quotes Emily Dickenson "Tell all the truth but tell it slant."
Jun 05, 2016 Bob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Invaluable tool to hone your writing and story telling skills in the genre of creative nonfiction in particular.
Jul 06, 2015 Christine rated it it was amazing
Useful, easy to use, not-the-usual "how-to," although it will teach you and your students how to braid narrative.
Sep 23, 2015 Carolyn marked it as to-read
Loved her essay from the Seneca Review "A brief history of sex"
Heather Carreiro
Feb 01, 2016 Heather Carreiro rated it really liked it
Solid advice. Every chapter has detailed writing prompts.
Sep 02, 2015 Abby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Ori Fienberg
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?
Dec 19, 2011 Andrea rated it it was amazing
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!
B.B. Morgan
Jun 13, 2016 B.B. Morgan rated it liked it
Read this for a class on creative nonfiction. I didn't know much about the genre and after reading this book along with the class, I know little more than I did. I think. It has a bit more writer-speak than I like, which I categorize as flowy prose and metaphors that doesn't really say anything. They sound pretty and cool, but what does it mean?
Oct 29, 2012 Patricia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
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
Nov 16, 2012 Jessica Kluthe rated it really liked it
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
Dec 19, 2007 Cory Fosco rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 23, 2014 Steven rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 13, 2013 Kate Savage rated it liked it
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.
Jun 01, 2010 trisha rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 18, 2011 Julie M rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 02, 2009 Charlz rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-school
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.
Aug 17, 2012 Cyndi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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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
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