20 Story Structures for CNF Writers:
A Compendium of Non-Linear & Genre-Bending Forms

This CNF writer’s guide to 20 unconventional story structures was designed to help new and experienced creative writers:

  • craft stronger, more creative first drafts
  • sidestep common writer’s blocks
  • find a “side door” into difficult material and
  • convey a truer account of how memory works.

Learn CNF’s genre-bending forms

Each featured story form, including the hermit crab essay, braided narrative, paper craft essay, includes:

  • a breakdown of its unique characteristics
  • relevant readings by experimental CNF writers, and
  • exercises designed to help spark your next story.

Nicole Breit

About Nicole Breit, Creator of
Spark Your Story

Nicole Breit’s award-winning creative nonfiction has been widely published in literary journals and anthologies. In 2017 her prize-winning lyric essay, “An Atmospheric Pressure”, was selected as a Notable Essay by the editors of Best American Essays. She has helped hundreds of life writers tell their stories more artfully through blog posts, articles, and writing programs that emphasize attention to both form and craft.

What’s Included

Discover twenty genre-bending story structures including:

  • the list essay
  • the braided essay
  • the collage essay
  • the paper craft essay
  • the illustrated essay
  • the hermit crab essay
  • the postcard essay
  • the Twitter essay
  • the sticky note essay
  • the quilted essay
  • the concrete essay
  • the schematic essay
  •  the graphic essay
  • the photo essay
  • the video essay
  • the hypertext essay
  • the diptych essay
  • triptych a: the montage
  • triptych b: one story, three angles
  • triptych c: one theme, three fragments

Who This Book is For

New, aspiring, and experienced life writers, personal essayists, creative nonfiction lovers, and authors of short-form memoir looking for exciting and innovative ways to tell their stories.

What Writers Are Saying


“I feel like Nicole has started a CNF revolution, bringing new forms and new voices together.”

Rowan McCandless

“I’ve had many writing teachers, but Nicole is the only one I consider a mentor.”

Rachel Laverdiere

“I highly recommend exploring these exciting forms with Nicole as your guide.”

Abby Palmer