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Crafting The Personal Essay: A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative Non-Fiction [Paperback]

Dinty W. Moore

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Book Description

Sept. 8 2010

Award winning essayist Scott Russell Sanders once compared the art of essay writing to "the pursuit of mental rabbits"—a rambling through thickets of thought in search of some brief glimmer of fuzzy truth. While some people persist in the belief that essays are stuffy and antiquated, the truth is that the personal essay is an ever-changing creative medium that provides an ideal vehicle for satisfying the human urge to document truths as we experience them and share them with others—to capture a bit of life on paper.

Crafting the Personal Essay is designed to help you explore the flexibility and power of the personal essay in your own writing. This hands-on, creativity-expanding guide will help you infuse your nonfiction with honesty, personality, and energy. You'll discover:

  • An exploration of the basics of essay writing
  • Ways to step back and scrutinize your experiences in order to separate out what may be fresh, powerful, surprising or fascinating to a reader
  • How to move past private "journaling" and write for an audience
  • How to write eight different types of essays including memoir, travel, humor, and nature essays among others
  • Instruction for revision and strategies for getting published
Brimming with helpful examples, exercises, and sample essays, this indispensable guide will help your personal essays transcend the merely private to become powerfully universal.

Frequently Bought Together

Crafting The Personal Essay: A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative Non-Fiction + The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present
Price For Both: CDN$ 32.48

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books (Sept. 8 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582977968
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582977966
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 14.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 322 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #218,670 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Dinty W. Moore earned a BA in writing from the University of Pittsburgh, worked briefly as a journalist, and also served short stints as a documentary filmmaker, modern dance performer, zookeeper, and Greenwich Village waiter. It was only after failing at each of these professions that he went on to earn an MFA in fiction writing from Louisiana State University. He has guest taught creative nonfiction seminars across the United States and in Europe. In addition to editing the internet journal, Brevity (, he is on the editorial board of Creative Nonfiction and is coordinating editor for the annual anthology Best Creative Nonfiction (W.W. Norton). Moore teaches writing at Ohio University and serves on the Board of Directors of The Association of Writers & Writing Programs.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  26 reviews
49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fun guide to essaying across the genre Sept. 23 2010
By Richard Gilbert - Published on
Crafting the Personal Essay will make a terrific textbook for writing students, but I'm a fiftysomething writer who has made his living in journalism, publishing, and teaching and I found it interesting and inspiring. It makes me want to try writing different types of essays than I've attempted and to develop new skills, to grow.

Dinty Moore discusses a wide range of essays, including: contemplative, memoir, nature, lyric, spiritual, gastronomical, humorous, and travel. To show how they work, he dissects some, inserting commentary in places; this includes some of his own work, and throughout the book he includes parts of an essay he's currently writing to show his thinking and decisions as he tries to practice what he's preaching. This is a great idea--it really makes the book lively and engaging.

The second part of Crafting the Personal Essay deals with practical writing issues, such as forging a regular routine, blogging, overcoming writers block, getting useful feedback from other writers, effective revising, and persevering through life's vagaries. I'll return to this section periodically, as I will to Moore's reading recommendations.
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it in under 24 hours Nov. 7 2010
By Chimica Robinson - Published on
I've been wanting to spend national novel writing month doing something that wasn't a novel because I have never seen myself as a novelist. So I grabbed this book and I am super happy I did. It offers tons of great information and tons of tips. It explains what types of essays there are and just how to write them and how they help you write your essay. I couldn't put it down and hope to reread it all over again in another day or two and really get to work on writing some great personal essays.

PS. The cute rabbit is just the icing on the cake of this great book.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Crafting The Personal Essay April 13 2011
By James G. Elwood - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Mr. Moore is undoubtedly an excellent teacher and writer, and this is a fine book on how to develop and write essays. It's meant to get you started. And that's how we all learn to write, by writing and rewriting. The only fault I can find with his book is, he tries to cover too much with too little. If you have the patience to work trough all the prompts and exercises, You'll have a good foundation.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book to get you started Nov. 25 2011
By Kathleen P. Brannon - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a really great book to get you started writing (again, in my case). It's informal, practical without being boring or stifling, and has some really fertile "prompts." The most important takeaway from the book is "Remember the Reader," which is something we all need to be reminded of. I really appreciated working my way through these exercises by myself, building confidence and expertise before putting my writing out there for criticism, in a writing class or for friends and family and even, eventually, maybe for publication. Great job, Mr. Moore!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If You're Only Getting One Book, This May Be The Choice Feb. 17 2013
By P. Boddy - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I like to check a few things initially when getting a reference/idea book. 1) If I open it to any page, will I get something from it useful and want to keep reading. Check+, 2) Are there samples, references, and source material...i.e. url's to use. Check+, and 3) Clarity and common sense language indicating they have the "chops" and have been in our moccasins. Check+ Add this author is the synapses behind Brevity Online Magazine, it is a book with lots of info for a myriad of newbie and experienced author types out there, and I'd give it 8-10 stars if needed. Sure beats a "webinar" or one-day class that leaves the bank account tapped and that 30-hours-later angst of "whiskey-tango-foxtrot" did I spend my money on. Just my opinion. This is a keeper for sure.

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