#81 The Art of Shaping A Compelling Story Featuring Maggie Smith

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Poet and author Maggie Smith


If you are wondering how to shape and structure your story no matter what genre it is, this episode is for you. It is a masterclass in form and structure from poet/bestselling author Maggie Smith.

I met Maggie Smith at the 2024 AWP Conference where she was doing an off-site panel with Kelly McMasters (episode #39), Joanna Rakoff, and Reema Zaman called Women Who Leave. I’d heard of Maggie, but after hearing her speak knew that she would be such a fantastic guest on the program because of her perspective as a poet on writing. I was so happy that she agreed.

Have you listened to or watched all the episodes? There are #81 — a veritable pocket MFA in storytelling, building media credentials, origin stories for books, actionable writing tips, advice from agents, perspectives from publishers and more

In This Episode

  • How Maggie came up with the idea for her children’s book
  • The metaphor that Maggie used throughout the book
  • Finding collaboration in every stage of the process
  • Maggie’s writing and structuring process for her works 
  • Surprising writing advice for memoirists or writers working their craft  

Watch on YouTube

About Maggie Smith

Maggie Smith is the New York Times bestselling author of seven books of poetry and prose, including You Could Make This Place Beautiful, Good Bones, Goldenrod, Lamp of the Body, The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison, and Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change. Her newest book is My Thoughts Have Wings, a picture book for children, illustrated by Leanne Hatch. Smith’s poems and essays have appeared in the New York Times, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, TIME, The Nation, The Atlantic, and The Best American Poetry. She lives with her two children in Columbus, Ohio.

Connect with Maggie






Get her books on Bookshop

Connect with Estelle

Writing That Gets Noticed: Find Your Voice, Become a Better Storyteller, Get Published: https://estelleserasmus.com/books/writing-that-gets-noticed/

ANNOUNCEMENT: Writing That Gets Noticed is now in Poets & Writers “Best Book for Writers” and was last week’s book pick in the Time is Now newsletter for Poets & Writers. I’m so honored. Thank you!

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Estelle’s New Articles

I’m Learning to Listen in New Ways (Shondaland)


What to Do PreLaunch to Get Your Book Noticed (Writer’s Digest)


How to Resist the Temptation of AI When Writing (Wired)

This article ended up being on the home page of Google last week!


April 16th: Join Estelle Erasmus and Zibby Owens  for a Lunchtime Conversation about publishing for Women’s Media Group Sign up here.

May 23rd: Sign up for Estelle’s Micro Memoir Workshop with Writer’s Digest on May 23. Sign up here.