The Anne C. Barnhill Prize for Creative Nonfiction

Submissions open June 1 and close July 31, 2019.

The Barnhill Prize honors Anne’s generous spirit of support for all who love to read and write; her lifelong empathy with those who mine their childhood experience to understand themselves now; the natural vulnerability in her compelling prose and poetry; and her boundless generosity in sharing her writing passions with the world.

Read more about the guidelines here.

Read more about our wonderful founding donors here.

This list is developing!

Charlotte and Brian Sweeney

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Betty Sims Damewood

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Frank Barnhill

Monica Graff

Sandra Lee Zahrn

Elizabeth Gaucher

Carol Damewood Spann 

Sharon Kurtzman

Kathryn Lovatt

Brenda Remmes

Beth Duttera Newman

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Bernie and Ken Brown

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Sophie Perinot

Nicholas Orlandi

Marie Fletcher

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Molly Maass

Suzanne Farrell Smith

Penny McDonald

Priscille Sibley

Jessica Keener

Ellen Wiseman

Mimi Clark

Jessi Malatesta

Interesting ideas here: “The 3-act structure is a common form for storytelling. Movies and plays in particular adhere closely to this model most of the time. While in fiction you can write to fit the structure, nonfiction makes it a little trickier because you need to adhere to the facts. And surprise! Our real lives don’t necessarily fit into neat little storytelling containers.”

If You Have Five Seconds to Spare

3-act-structure

How the 3-act structure looks for fiction (taken from https://www.nownovel.com/blog/three-act-formula-novels/).

The 3-act structure is a common form for storytelling. Movies and plays in particular adhere closely to this model most of the time. While in fiction you can write to fit the structure, nonfiction makes it a little trickier because you need to adhere to the facts. And surprise! Our real lives don’t necessarily fit into neat little storytelling containers.

That being said, I have found the 3-act structure useful in shaping my nonfiction. Reading more about the form helped me at a crucial time when I was struggling to organize my memoir. Nonfiction won’t fit every single criterion set out in the 3-act structure, but the form can be helpful as a loose guide.

When I teach memoir and other nonfiction classes, I always spend time talking about the 3-act structure. I adapted this 3-act guide from Mary Carroll…

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Many thanks to our Creative Muse for this inspired relay of excellent advice! “Sometimes writing feels great and floats along and the words seem to choose themselves and the meaning is so clear and revision is a blast. But sometimes writing is muddled. Out of our control. Just out of reach.”

Suzanne Farrell Smith

This summer, I consider my professional companion to be Donald Graves, one of the most influential thinkers in the history of writing instruction. As I prep for fall teaching, consider how writing and literacy instruction overlap, and research new pieces on the writing process and life, I’m reading, eagerly but deliberately, Graves’s 1983 book, Writing: Teachers & Children at Work.

Writing developed from Graves’s groundbreaking National Institute of Education study on writing instruction in the late 70s. There is much to learn from his research, thinking, and recommendations. But my favorite Graves lesson, by far, comes 85% of the way through Writing (p 270). I believe my friends in both writing and education will like it too:

After four years of working with the study in Atkinson, New Hampshire, when all the data were in and the information brewed down to the most important finding, we recorded that:

WRITING IS A HIGHLY IDIOSYNCRATIC PROCESS THAT VARIES…

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