Writing the Personal Essay

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The personal essay combines a wide range of techniques to make personal stories compelling to readers. Primarily through participants’ work, this workshop will explore the use of voice, reflection, and dialogue as well as other techniques that shape personal stories and make them resonate with the reader. There will be some time spent writing in class; most of the time will be focused on giving constructive and supportive feedback on participants’ work. Each participant will have two opportunities to have work critiqued. If you have a personal essay ready for critique, please bring a copy to the first class.

About Pamela Toutant

Pamela Toutant is a creative writing teacher and a widely published creative non-fiction writer. Her work has appeared in numerous national and local publications, including, Salon, Ms. Magazine, Slate, The Washington Post, Redbook, The Washingtonian Magazine, Applause Magazine, and Bethesda Magazine. Her essay “Family Loyalty,” was nominated for the 2006 Pushcart Prize. Pamela is a three-time recipient of a Virginia Center for the Creative Arts Fellowship.

Teaching Style: Highly participatory and experiential.


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