Writing Hermit Crab Essays: Finding a Shape for Your Story

Instructor: Silas Hansen
Date: Thursday, July 25
Time:  6:30-9:30 p.m.
Location: IWC
Cost: $75 nonmembers, $48 members, $42 student members/teacher members/senior members/military members/librarian members

Do you have a true story to tell, but aren’t sure where to start? Do you sometimes struggle with “writer’s block” and need a new way to get words on the page? Are you interested in learning unique ways of organizing your thoughts?

Brenda Miller and Suzanne Paola coined the term “hermit crab essay” in 2004’s Tell It Slant and the form—sometimes called a “fraudulent artifact”—has been gaining popularity among established and emerging writers alike. These essays do everything we expect essays to do—tell true stories in interesting ways, explore the writer’s values and beliefs, encourage readers to ask similar questions about their own lives—but they do so while masquerading as another type of writing. These are essays that pretend to be letters, recipes, online dating profiles, technical manuals, prescription information sheets, job applications, and resumes. By borrowing—and breaking—the rules of other genres, essayists and memoirists can break out of traditional ways of thinking, trick themselves into overcoming writer’s block, and write fascinating essays, memoirs, and explorations that are unlike any others.

In this class, we will look at examples of this type of essay to figure out how and when it works, do writing exercises to try it ourselves, and share these exercises in a supportive environment to hear feedback. You will leave with an understanding of this new technique, the start of at least one essay, and questions and suggestions to help you keep writing.

Register online or download and print a registration form.

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