Brenda Miller and Suzanne Paola take the title of their creative nonfiction textbook from Emily Dickinson: “Tell the truth but tell it slant.” In this prompt-based weekend workshop, you will generate new creative nonfiction flash by looking sideways at the past and telling it slant. Today we’ll use exercises that focus on objects, clothing, and photographs to access what we’ve forgotten. Tomorrow we’ll use new forms to uncover and approach subjects that may have seemed either too large or too difficult to write about otherwise.

I hope you will surprise yourself with memories you didn’t know you had, and forms you haven’t tried before. The prompts are intended to inspire you but not to limit you. You’re welcome to take different directions.

Each day I will provide:


Sample Flash

Craft Essays


Prewriting Exercises

Please read the sample flash and craft essays each day before responding to one of the prompts. Post your flash and read and comment on as many of your fellow writers’ flash as you have time for. This is a generative class, so the material you’re reading is brand new. Be encouraging in your comments!

On both days there are also prewriting exercises that you may want to try before writing your response to the prompt. I would particularly recommend that you try the prewriting exercise from Lynda Barry on what she calls “images” today.

In The Art of Memoir, Mary Karr says that “a single image can split open the hard seed of the past and soon memory pours forth from every direction.”