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  5. Winding Roads: Exercises in Writing Creative Nonfiction

Winding Roads: Exercises in Writing Creative Nonfiction, 1st edition

  • Diane Thiel

Published by Pearson (December 18th 2007) - Copyright © 2008

1st edition

Winding Roads: Exercises in Writing Creative Nonfiction

ISBN-13: 9780321429896

Includes: Paperback
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Written by an award-winning author Diane Thiel, Winding Roads:  Exercises in Composing Creative Nonfiction offers exciting and challenging exercises with accompanying models which help focus student writing and allow instructors to address specfic elements of writing creative nonfiction.  Vital examples in an extensive selection of readings serve as models and exercises address each element of writing creative nonfiction separately, while building towards an understanding of all the elements which go into creating an effective piece of writing. 

Table of contents

Table of Contents

Preface to the Instructor



I.  Beginning/Points of Inspiration


                Keeping a Journal

                Family Stories:  History as Heartbeat

                Memory and Imagination

                Telling Lies to tell the Truth

                Making the Old Story New

                A Picture Brings Forth a Thousand Words

                Object Lessons


II.  Exercises for Developing Craft and Technique


Voice and Style

                Finding Your True Subjects

                A Question of Style

                Conditional Voice

                Breaking the Rules


Perspective and Point of View

                Choosing Points of View         

                Innocent Perspective

                Using Biography


Detail, Image, and Symbol

                Detailing a Narrative

                Turning Abstractions into Images and Action

                Using all of Your Senses

                Writing from Art

                Symbols, not Cymbals


Figurative Language



                Origins of Words

                Foreign Flavor


                Tell-Tale Dialect



                Setting with Personality

                Setting from Family History

                Setting Your Hometown


Creating Tension

                Foundations of Tension

                A Spell of Trouble: Conflict and Tension

                Reversing the Action

                Trading Characters, Settings, Conflicts

                Reverberating Closure



                Finding Your Rhythm

                Song and Story

                Listening to Nature


Character and Dialogue

                Populating a Piece

                Inside a Character’s Mind

                Compelling Characters

                Dialogue Dropping from the Eaves         


III.  Exercises for Exploring Revision, Sub-genres and Frequent Concerns of Creative Nonfiction



                Re-reading, Re-imagining, Re-shaping

                What’s in a Name: Finding a Title

                Revision: Beyond the Frame

                Revision: Re-imagining Character and Conflict

                Creating Scenes:  A Revision Narrative

                Workshop: Thirteen Ways of Looking for Revision


Exploring the Sub-genres of Creative Nonfiction


                From Memory to Memoir

                Biographical Sketch: Researching a Life

                Personal Opinion Essay: Taking a Stand

                Living Sources: Gathering and Using Information

                Reflective Writing:  Reflecting on the World

                Writing About Place

                A Piece of History


Exploring Frequent Concerns of Creative Nonfiction


                Finding the Emotional Truth

                Writing Between the Lines:  Subtext

                Time-lines and the Larger Context

                The Passage of Time

                Mapping Your Memory


                Writing Inside the Story: Meta-writing



IV.  A Collection of Creative Nonfiction


            Diane Ackerman, “The Truth about Truffles”

            Sherman Alexie, “Superman and Me”

            Rudolfo Anaya, “Why I Love Tourists: Confessions of a Dharma Bum”

            Wendell Berry, “An Entrance to the Woods”

            Philip Brady, “Myth and Uncertainty” from To Prove My Blood: A Tale of Emigration and the Afterlife

            Bruce Chatwin, from In Patagonia

            Wayson Choy, from Paper Shadows: A Chinatown Childhood

            Judith Ortiz Cofer, “Silent Dancing”

            Fred D’Aguiar, “A Son in Shadow”

            Edwidge Danticat, “Westbury Court”

            Rhina Espaillat, “Bilingual/Bilingue”

            Shirley Geok-lin Lim, “Splendor and Squalor” from Among the White Moon Faces:  An Asian-American Memoir of Homelands

            Dana Gioia, “Lonely Impulse of Delight: One Reader’s Childhood”

            Joy Harjo, “The Flying Man”

            Jamaica Kincaid, “Biography of a Dress”

            Barry Lopez, “Landscape and Narrative”

            Naomi Shihab Nye, “Three Pokes of a Thistle”

            Hilda Raz, “Looking at Aaron” from What Becomes You

            Leslie Marmon Silko, “Landscape, History, and the Pueblo Imagination”

            Jonathan Swift, “A Modest Proposal”

            Diane Thiel, “Crossing the Border” from The White Horse: A Colombian Journey

            Henry David Thoreau, “Walking”

            Alice Walker, “Am I Blue”

            Anthony Walton, from Mississippi

            Terry Tempest Williams, “Peregrine Falcon,” from Refuge



V.  Writers About the Art of Creative Nonfiction


                Margaret Atwood, “Nine Beginnings”

                Lee Gutkind, “The Creative Nonfiction Police”

                Tracy Kidder, “Making the Truth Believable”

                Brett Lott, “Toward a Definition of Creative Nonfiction”

                Gregory Martin, “Other People’s Memories”

                John McNally, “Humor Incarnate”

                Sue Miller, “From a Lecture on Revision”

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