Creative Nonfiction: Write Truth with Style
- 1x (Normal)
Subject: Finding Your Topic9:35
Subject: Finding "The American Male at Age Ten"7:15
Research: Preparing for Reporting9:10
Research: Organizing Notes9:59
Writing: Elements of a Story9:41
Writing: Dialogue and Quotes6:02
Writing: Expert Opinion3:16
The Ongoing Work of a Writer8:51
Write a 1000-word profile on someone you find mysterious
Write the true story of someone you know using artful, stylized language and a compelling story arc—the defining features of creative nonfiction. Choose someone who seems like they have a bit of mystery to them, and follow your curiosity. Brainstorm what you know, research any questions, find a universal theme that will resonate with your readers, and write the truth into a compelling, cohesive story.
A final draft of 500-1000 words (or approx. 3 pages) profiling someone you find mysterious. Share your writing in the class project gallery by pasting the text or linking to a Google doc. A complete profile may include:
- paraphrased expert opinion
- artful conclusion
Note: Feel free to also share notes, brainstorming, and drafts from your full writing process.
- Download detailed lesson notes in the attached PDF project steps.
- Download "The American Male at Age 10" (attached), or read it in print: The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup: My Encounters with Extraordinary People (Random House, 2002).
- For more on narrative journalism, check out Harvard University's Nieman Storyboard.
- Reading creative nonfiction will help you pick up on the patterns you want to cultivate as a writer. A few sites to explore: The Atavist | Byliner.com | Creative Nonfiction | Longform.org | Narrative Magazine | The New Yorker | Scratch
- Three favorites creative nonfiction anthologies: The New Kings of Nonfiction (Glass, 2007) | The New New Journalism: Conversations with America's Best Nonfiction Writers on Their Craft (Boynton, 2005) | Literary Journalism (Sims and Kramer, 1995)
- Browse the collected stories and works by the legendary writers mentioned in the video lessons: Bruce Chatwin, In Patagonia | Joan Didion, The White Album | John McPhee, The Second John McPhee Reader | Joseph Mitchell, Up in the Old Hotel | Lillian Ross, Reporting Back: Notes on Journalism | Mark Singer, Mr. Personality: Profiles and Talk Pieces from The New Yorker | Tom Wolfe, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test