Tell Your True Tale Writing Workshops

Author/journalist Sam Quinones teaches writing workshops based on the acclaimed True Tales stories he’s been writing for much of IMG_7193 - Version 6his 26-year journalism career.

Among the biggest challenges new writers face is figuring out what to write and how to start.

Tell Your True Tale workshops get them to think of their own experiences and of those around them as raw material for avoiding writer’s block.

Often, this approach works best when new writers are from communities or families that have never told their stories.

By insisting on stories told in limited space, the True Tales approach forces writers to hone their thoughts and imagination, eliminate unnecessary words, make the hard choices that are part of strong writing, no matter the genre.

The aim is to get nonfiction stories to read like fiction.

Sam has done workshops from elementary schools to community colleges. Each group or class is different, so he customizes each workshop to each group’s needs.

(Read comments from Las Vegas high school students and teachers on Sam’s appearance in the Just Voices program, May 2011, where he also taught his Tell Your True Tale workshops.)

What to Expect

True Tales workshops generally involve:

*A Pre-Workshop Discussion: Sam and the instructor or group leader discuss the students and their needs. Sam explains the True Tales approach, and includes a reading list of stories.

*Students come up with story ideas. Often, these can be sent to Sam for comment.

*First Draft: Students write their stories and send them, via the instructor, to Sam.

*First Edit: Sam line-edits each story, and provides ideas to each writer on how each story might be improved: cut, expanded, reorganized; what might make a better lead and ending; what further research or interviews the writer needs.

*Second Draft: Students write a second draft.

*Second Edit: Sam again edits each story.

*In-Person Visit: Lasting one to three hours, Sam discusses the writing issues the class faces. He also comments on each story, with suggestions for improvements.

*Third Draft: If needed, students who’ve completed two drafts submit a third.

*The best stories are posted on Sam’s website.

Contact Sam for references and rates.


Comments (8)


  1. […] This time, I met with students at San Joaquin Delta College, the area community college, in a class taught by poet/instructor PEdro Ramirez. We were talking about writing and how they could tell their own stories — part of my Tell Your True writing workshops. […]

  2. […] edits, and welcomes contributions to, the storytelling website, Tell Your True Tale, and teaches writing workshops of the same […]

  3. […] edits, and welcomes contributions to, the storytelling website, Tell Your True Tale, and teaches writing workshops of the same […]

  4. […] Your True Tale, for those who don’t know, is my writing workshop, which I’ve given at several schools and colleges. The ELA workshop was the first outside a classroom. TYTT aims to get new writers working on […]

  5. […] I call my workshops TELL YOUR TRUE TALE. They attempt to get new writers over the intimidating humps that keep them from realizing their writing dreams, and pushes them to start thinking like writers — all by mining the stories in their lives or those of people close to them. […]

  6. […] None of the seven authors included in the book had been published before, said author and journalist Sam Quinones, who organized the Tell Your True Tale workshops. […]

  7. […] recently held a Tell Your True Tale workshop at East LA Public Library, which produced several fantastic […]

  8. […] Tell Your True Tale is a project by author and journalist Sam Quinones, where he works with authors who have never been published and helps them tell their stories. You can read more on his website, and you can buy the first edition of collected True Tales from Amazon here. Interested in learning more? You can also attend a TYTT Workshop. […]