Keep It Real: Everything You Need to Know About Researching and Writing Creative Nonfiction

Keep It Real: Everything You Need to Know About Researching and Writing Creative Nonfiction

Lee Gutkind

Language: English

Pages: 160

ISBN: 0393330982

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The one guide every creative nonfiction writer needs to turn to when being "creative."

Writers of memoir and narrative nonfiction are experiencing difficult days with the discovery that some well-known works in the genre contain exaggerations--or are partially fabricated. But what are the parameters of creative nonfiction? Keep It Real begins by defining creative nonfiction. Then it explores the flexibility of the form--the liberties and the boundaries that allow writers to be as truthful, factual, and artful as possible. A succinct but rich compendium of ideas, terms, and techniques, Keep It Real clarifies the ins and outs of writing creative nonfiction. Starting with acknowledgment of sources, running through fact-checking, metaphor, and navel gazing, and responsibilities to their subjects, this book provides all the information you need to write with verve while remaining true to your story.

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writer has tools as well; for example, setting off a conversation with quotation marks is a signal that someone actually spoke those words. Creative nonfiction’s great literary power comes from its essential connection to fact. If writers compromise that relationship, the writing grows weaker, and they risk losing their audience. Most important, the tour guide’s role is to tell readers where to look. The filmmaker Akira Kurosawa reminds us that “to be an artist means never to avert one’s eyes.”

rubble, fire damage, open garbage,” and “Visiting hours are daily, eleven to two … Immediate Family Only Allowed in Jail.” from image to reflection Annie Dillard invites us to witness an eclipse, leaping from image to reflection, physics to metaphysics: “It began with no ado.” Later: “The second before the sun went out we saw a wall of shadow come speeding at us. We no sooner saw it than it was upon us, like thunder.… It slammed the hill and knocked us out.” Then her leap: “The world which lay

and despite what some critics say, this is not a bad thing. There are so many wonderful, human, funny, powerful, and true stories out there. (Try Ann Patchett’s Truth & Beauty, a sad and inspiring story of friendship; Greg Bottoms’s Angelhead, a haunting story about what it’s like to grow up in a family one of whose members is mentally ill; Kathy Dobie’s incisive The Only Girl in the Car, a story about a girl coming of age in a brutal small town.) But there is also a trend toward the other side

Creative Nonfiction to prepare a special issue, “A Million Little Choices,” to lay out guidelines for the genre, presenting questions, controversies, and conflicts for writers and readers to consider. As soon as the issue was published, the immediate and overwhelmingly positive response told us that we had addressed a need and satisfied a growing unrest about the dos and don’ts of the form. Keep It Real expands upon the original journal issue and includes even more topics. Keep It Real was a

Creative Nonfiction to prepare a special issue, “A Million Little Choices,” to lay out guidelines for the genre, presenting questions, controversies, and conflicts for writers and readers to consider. As soon as the issue was published, the immediate and overwhelmingly positive response told us that we had addressed a need and satisfied a growing unrest about the dos and don’ts of the form. Keep It Real expands upon the original journal issue and includes even more topics. Keep It Real was a

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