Tag Archives: creative writing

What is narrative non-fiction?

Spellbound Press

‘If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.’ – Rudyard Kipling

There is an understandable propensity for confusing narrative non-fiction with the notion of “made up facts”. Alternatively referred to as “creative non-fiction”, it is no wonder that some people focus on the implication of “invention”. However, this is not (or shouldn’t be!) the case.

As Chuck Sambuchino writes for Writer’s Digest, ‘[n]arrative nonfiction is unique … because it tells a true story … but it’s told like a novel’. The genre is a creative form of reportage or otherwise factual storytelling, which utilises literary devices and techniques to create factually accurate pieces that read like stories. It is the presentation of facts in a way that makes people want to read them.

Memoirs are another example of narrative non-fiction: true stories about people’s lives or experiences, presented as accurately as possible. Consider a straight, factual account of a…

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Sue Monk Kidd on Memoir

the 21st century bohemian

suemonkkidd

Today at Ducktrap Writers’ Round Table we spoke about Author Sue Monk Kidd, who is featured in the book Why We Write About Ourselves, an anthology of 20 memoirists edited by Meredith Maran and published by Plume, a Penquin Random House imprint (2016).

Here are a couple of excerpts from her contribution to the book:

Oddly enough, I find that the deeper I go into myself, the more I’m freed from myself. When I write about myself, I find release and freedom in the end because I’ve managed to distill the experience into some sort of meaning that I can integrate into my life, and then move on without all the preoccupation and unconscious pull of it. It’s the unexamined experience that seems to wreak the most havoc in my day-to-day world.

Writing memoir not only has the ability to reveal me to myself, it also has the…

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BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

HamletHamlet realizes his story is not “my dad was murdered” but instead, “I will find out who killed my dad and punish them.”

Many of us write a memoir or a personal essay after, around, or during a dramatic event in our lives. Cancer. Death of a loved one. Running a marathon. Climbing Everest. And many memoirs and essays remain unpublished because a dramatic event isn’t enough.

Think about it–any newspaper front page is covered in dramatic situations, worthy of reporting but mostly conveying information. The emotional reaction of the reader is grounded in their own experience meeting the facts, rather than empathy for the protagonist, or a desire to see them “win.”

Car Crash Claims Three

is a dramatic situation. It’s not a dramatic journey unless the reporter goes for a larger picture, and the larger picture has to include a protagonist taking a dramatic action.

Crash Claims Three:…

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Don’t Always Believe What You Read Online

Luanne Castle's Writer Site

When I started writing creative nonfiction/memoir, the issue of dialogue tags rose its nasty little head early on. I’d never given them much thought in fiction writing, and they don’t exist in poetry. For some reason, nonfiction made me think and rethink what works best. Maybe it’s that more expressive word choices conveyed more information than plain old “said,” but in nonfiction it seemed like overkill to write “stammered” or “giggled” about oneself.

These “more expressive” tags look something like this:

Eventually I took courses online and learned that all the creative and imaginative tags I’d debated were worthless. I think these teachers were right, so I’m sharing what I learned from them.

The idea is to stay as far from “tagging” as possible.

That means that if you can write dialogue where it’s clear who is speaking each line, you don’t need any tags at all. Sometimes you can start…

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Arcing, Enhancing, and Advancing the Memoir

Two Drops of Ink: A Literary Blog

Memoirs are hot topics again. Like all literature, memoir goes in and out of favor. However, with so many people blogging, self-publishing, and “knowing their story will touch millions”, there is ample opportunity to write a good and bad memoir.

Since my memoir, Finding North: A Woman’s Journey from Addict 2 Advocate is with the editor, I don’t have to focus on the product but have time to write about the planning and process of memoir writing, because it’s within the planning and processing that we improve upon the story. That is not to say that we embellish, mislead or outright lie in our memoir, but we do enhance the events, and concentrate on the emotions, thoughts, and conflict of the protagonist – and that’s us.

One of the best ways to accomplish this is to create a bell curve and decide a starting point in your life, remembering that…

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Still Writing: The Perils & Pleasures of a Creative Life ~ Dani Shapiro

Tina Pocha

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I can’t remember now how I came upon this book. Probably a reference in a reference in a book I once read. Whatever the source, I decided to borrow it from the library rather than spring for the $9.99 on Kindle. I read so many of these books, I thought, I don’t need to buy every one. Besides, they all say the same thing (more or less), don’t they? Well, yes and no. Nothing in this book will bring you to your knees or prompt invective or even be something you’ve never heard before. No, this is a quiet book.

Yet I have copied more quotations, written more “notes to self” while reading this book than any other I have read in the same genre. Hmm, is that enough of a recommendation? No? Okay, so you judge for yourself:

On Confronting the Blank Page
“Start small . . . it’s…

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Writing Tip: Adverbs

Creative Talents Unleashed

Photo 10

Writing Tip: Adverbs

If you’re taking part in Blogging U’s Writing 101 challenge at the moment, or you’ve taken part in the past, you should be aware of how many adverbs you use when you write. One of the more recent posts asked bloggers to write a description of something or someone they had seen without using any adverbs. Many people, including myself, found it an enlightening exercise that revealed how often we rely on adverbs.

Adverbs are words that add further description to a verb, adjective or other adverb. They give further information, such as to explain how an action is performed. Most of them end in -ly, such as quickly, slowly and carelessly. Though they can provide us with extra information, they are not powerful words. You do not need to remove them from everything you write, but it’s good to be aware of how often you…

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7 Ways to Make an Agent or Publisher Say Yes!

Writer's Resource Blog

Traditional publishing is growing again. Sales are up, ebooks have become another channel rather than the death of books, and disruption is creating beneficial changes. Here are 7 ways to make an agent or publisher say, “Yes!” to your manuscript.
1. Write a fantastic manuscript. Tap into your passion and write something that relates to that. You’ll produce a much better manuscript that way.
2. Run the manuscript through beta readers. Use your writer’s group, friends who are readers and writers, or a professional editor to spot those critical flaws you’ve missed because you’re too close to the story.
3. Create a professional query letter (see Dec 18 post for more).
4. Create supporting submission materials. For a nonfiction book, this is a book proposal. For fiction, this means a bio that includes your platform, a synopsis, and an overview of marketing opportunities the author can fulfill. Juvenile fiction and…

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