Daniel José Older shares a provocative take on what makes a writer in this blog post on Seven Scribes, and it just might liberate those of us steeped in the anxiety that we’re “not doing it right.” Not to mention it’s a pretty neat little personal essay on the writing process. Cheers!
Author Archives: Stephen J. West
What Do You Call Writing That Blends Fiction and Nonfiction?
“Faction” gets my vote.
Catherine Buni’s essay “Pants on Fire: The Genre That Cannot be Named” on The Millions website takes this question to task, exploring the fact (or fiction?) that we still don’t have a name for a genre that blends fact with fabrication. A ton of good books on the craft of writing CNF are included as well.
Writers of the Real and Personal, Behold! Visual Models of Essay Structures
Not sure they are each worth a thousand words, but these visual interpretations of common essay structures in Issue #49 of Creative Nonfiction are pretty handy for writers new to the genre.
When it Comes to a Murder Conviction, More Facts, Less Fiction Please
The hook of Sarah Koenig’s podcast Serial is her (and her production team’s) meticulous investigation into the details of the state of Maryland’s story of how Adnan Syed murdered Hae Min Lee in 1999. Koenig lets the facts–or the mushiness of them–complicate the story to the point that her audience is unsure of who murdered Lee, confident only that the prosecution’s case against Syed is less than conclusive.
I have to think that Adnan’s being granted an appeal just this week has at least something to do with Koenig’s thorough scrutiny of the details of the story at the heart of Serial. If breathing new life into a murder trial long since adjourned isn’t an indication of the power that the presentation of research in nonfiction can have on an audience, then I don’t know what is.
What do we owe history?
It’s awards season in Hollywood! I wish I could say I’ve watched any of the films that will be nominated for best picture this year, but I haven’t. The only movie I saw in the theater this year was X-Men: Days of Future Past, and not surprisingly, there is no Oscar buzz surrounding it.
I’ve never been a movie buff, and a large percentage of the movies I watch feature someone dressed in a superhero get up. Case in point: I recently chose to stay home and re-watch X-Men: First Class over going to the theater with a friend to see a film nominated for a Golden Globe. While X-Men movies will always be irrelevant to discussions of what will win best picture, watching X-Men: First Class reminded me of the ethical questions about historical accuracy it raised the first time I watched it, questions that will always be relevant to writers of creative nonfiction. Below are some thoughts I wrote on the topic a few years ago after watching it in the theater…
What would you write if you weren’t afraid?
Mary Karr shares how she writes to the threshold in The Paris Review. Paris Review – The Art of Memoir No. 1, Mary Karr.