With the recent explosion of creative nonfiction, an emerging sub-genre, the “hermit crab” essay, is steadily gaining in popularity. Hybrids in the truest sense, these essays borrow their structures from ordinary, extra-literary sources. Writers might use a recipe, a police report, a pack of cards, or an obituary as a framework for a lyric meditation on their chosen subject. In the best examples, the borrowed structures are less contrived than inevitable, managing not only to give shape to the work but to illuminate and exemplify its subject. Using ready-made forms is an incredibly liberating way to work—exciting for both new writers and more advanced practitioners. In this one-day seminar, we will do close readings of some exemplary hermit crab essays, discuss the importance of choosing the right “shell,” and spend time generating and reviewing new work.