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

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  799 ratings  ·  69 reviews
A series of lessons on writing and creating non-fiction
Paperback, 464 pages
Published September 1st 2003 by McGraw-Hill Higher Education (first published August 1st 2003)
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4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  799 ratings  ·  69 reviews

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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
Patricia Florio
Apr 08, 2012 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.
Jenny Mckeel
Sep 20, 2009 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
Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english-class, 2018
I love how helpful this book is for writing any genre. So many great tips and tricks in these pages!
Lindsay Hickman
May 28, 2019 rated it liked it
I wasn't overly impressed with this book, but I will say it has given me a list of other great authors to read. This is a very heavily researched book, and you really could take each chapter as a small book in itself. Some great writing tips and tricks can be found within, but you really have to take it chunk by chunk with this one. If you are interested in writing it is a must read.
Kristin Boldon
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great and helpful reference.
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
May 02, 2017 rated it liked it
I read a chapter here and there, usually before bedtime or while eating breakfast, throughout the 12 weeks of a creative nonfiction writing workshop I took this spring. I didn't read much of the anthology of essays at the end, but I'm glad I was able to find a used copy at Powells that had them (newer editions have removed the essays) because they helped illuminate the authors' points in the main chapters and were interesting and well written.
Ericka Scott Nelson
Aug 30, 2012 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
S.R. Wemyss
This is kind of a lie because I didn't read the whole thing. But I'm gonna count it. Because I got the gist.
Jan 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book so much that I'm going to hunt down the first edition, which has twice as many pages, and read that too.
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Oh! Detailed in both heart and craft, this book lays out resources and experiences in writing that both tell story, and tell how to story. But then, stories teach best, and Miller and Paola hold that fact true, and then demonstrate its truth. Through the liberal integration of excerpts, author quotes, and the authors' own writing and personal challenges and reflections, SLANT brings its reader concrete and clear guidance and grounding in the work of word-craft, and a diverse array of examples to ...more
Jun 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Great overview of the creative nonfiction writing process! It definitely covers some of the specifics of essay and memoir writing (persona, emotional truth, etc), and adds in extra about publishing. Handy guide for those just starting out telling the truth.
Ursula Pike
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, craft
Great advice! I feel like this is one of those books I should read every year to pick up what I missed.
Isla McKetta
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Having given away almost all of my writing how-to books years ago, I was surprised at how much I liked this book, how much I learned from it.
Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent book about creative nonfiction
Sep 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very useful and comprehensive manual for nonfiction writing, particularly memoir. I find the exercises and perspectives on parts of the process very helpful for teaching.
I found the writing advice pretty basic (granted, I've read a lot of writing books) but the anthology was well curated. Definitely look for the first edition with the anthology.
Trish Hermanson
Jan 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent resource for bloggers and others wanting to hone their creative nonfiction skills.
Lila Kladreau
Mar 06, 2016 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 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
Rachel Laverdiere
Oct 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I think this is an excellent introduction to creative nonfiction. I think it is good for people just starting out with writing or those who want more of an idea of how to write nonfiction creatively. I first looked at select chapters of this book for a creative nonfiction class, but have since returned and read the remaining chapters. As someone with a strong foundation in writing this text is simply filling in some blanks. I just finished reading Part 3: Honing Your Craft and really appreciate ...more
Oct 02, 2010 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 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
Nov 06, 2011 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
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?
denise kay jacobs
The title references an Emily Dickinson poem that begins, "Tell all the Truth, but tell it Slant" and ends with "The Truth must dazzle gradually or every man be blind." As you might expect, the book looks at issues of memory and truth telling in creative nonfiction, little buggers that have plagued more than one contemporary published author.

I appreciate the book for its writing suggestions, especially those modified for group work, as I teach life writing workshops.
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.
Dec 19, 2011 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!
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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