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‘Tell All the Truth, but Tell It Slant:’ Writing About Trauma with Thomas McNeely

June 3, 2023 @ 10:00 am - 12:00 pm CDT


Saturdays, June 3, 10, 17 & 24, 10am-12pm CST via Zoom
Instructor: Thomas McNeely
Nonmember: $150; Member: $125; Student/Vet/Mil $75




How do we tell the story of a traumatic event or its aftermath?  What if, after the event, we were silenced by others or just by our own inability to put the experience into words? 


In this generative course, we will experiment with different approaches to narrating real or fictional trauma while keeping in mind that each traumatic experience suggests a variety of different stories and may be narrated in a variety of different ways. We will explore writing different versions of the same story and decide which form–poem, short story, novel, memoir, or a hybrid of any of these narrative approaches–will best capture the traumatic experience and its after effects. 

Our approaches will be based on short excerpts from work by Sylvia Plath, Brian Teare, Ocean Vuong, Mary Karr, Eimear McBride, and other creative writers, and will incorporate ideas from trauma narrative theorists and researchers, including Cathy Caruth and Bessel van der Kolk.

This class is open to writers of all skill levels.

Workshop participants will leave with the following:

  • An understanding of how to write about trauma and its impact
  • Ideas on which narrative form can best capture the traumatic experience 
  • A starting place for their own piece of writing 

An East Side Houston native, THOMAS H. McNEELY has received National Endowment for the Arts, Wallace Stegner, MacDowell Colony, and Dobie Paisano fellowships for his fiction. Pictures of the Shark: Stories (Texas Review Press) is his second book.  His first book, Ghost Horse, won the Gival Press Novel Award and was shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize in Writing. He has published short stories and non-fiction in The Atlantic, Texas Monthly, Ploughshares, and many other magazines and anthologies, including The Best American Mystery Stories and Algonquin Books’ Best of the South. His stories have been short-listed for the Pushcart Prize, Best American Short Stories and O. Henry Award anthologies. He currently teaches in the Stanford Online Writing Studio and at Emerson College, Boston, and has led writing workshops at the Grub Street Writers Workshops, the Lighthouse Writers Workshops, the Writers’ League of Texas, Writespace Houston, and Inprint Houston.


June 3, 2023
10:00 am - 12:00 pm CDT
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