Getting Started on Short-Short Nonfiction

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Teens, Adults
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The flash nonfiction, the micro-memoir, the mini-essay: whatever you call them, it is in these tightly compressed forms that the techniques of creative nonfiction and poetry meet and merge to create exciting new modes of expression. Through brief (under 1,000 words, and in many cases under 500) in-class readings, students will see how such tiny stories can pack a huge punch. After discussing how these narratives-in-miniature are structured, as well as what they can teach us about longer forms, students will have the chance to do in-class exercises and will walk out with rough drafts of a couple of very short essays that they can continue to hone, as well as with a new sense of how to bring economy to their sentences in writing of all lengths and genres. 

Who Should Attend: Prose writers of both fiction and nonfiction seeking to jump-start their imaginations and experiment with shorter forms, as well as busy writers who don’t have the time right now to spend on an entire autobiography, but who want to keep their writing chops fresh.

Kathleen Rooney is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press, a nonprofit publisher of literary work in hybrid genres, as well as a founding member of Poems While You Wait. Her recent books include the novels Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey (Penguin, 2020) and From Dust to Stardust (Lake Union, 2023), and her criticism appears in The New York Times Magazine, The Poetry Foundation website, The Chicago TribuneThe Los Angeles Review of Books, and elsewhere. She lives in Chicago and teaches at DePaul.