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Creative Nonfiction

Myrl Coulter: Go for the concrete

During the month of January we will be running creative nonfiction writing tips from members of the Creative Nonfiction Collective to give you inspiration for our current creative nonfiction competition

Go for the concrete rather than the abstract. One crisp vivid scene will have much more impact than several paragraphs of abstract musings. Put your audience right in the middle of your scenes with a full range of details they can see, hear, and smell. When possible, let them taste and touch, too. Write with all your senses. Our eyes are cameras, our ears microphones, our noses tantalizing pipelines to readers’ memories. It’s not a pleasant field of canola: it’s an undulating canary yellow sea waving at the sky. It’s not merely hot soup: it’s a steaming basil-infused bowl of garlic tomato chowder. It’s not a noisy bird in a tree: it’s a crested woodpecker drilling out a coded message to its mate. 


Myrl Coulter's memoir, The House With the Broken Two: A Birthmother Remembers, published by Anvil Press, won the 2010 First Book Competition sponsored by the Writers Studio at Simon Fraser University and the 2012 Canadian Authors Association Exporting Alberta Award. Myrl lives in Edmonton, Alberta and is currently working on a collection of personal narrative essays titled A Year of Days.

Myrl Coulter is a member of the Creative Nonfiction Collective (CNFC). To learn more or become a member, click here.

Find out more about our creative nonfiction competition.

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