Explores the key challenges in writing narrative non-fiction, and shows how some of the best in the business do it - an invaluable guide for anyone who wants to tell true stories well.
'In this excellent and provocative book, Matthew Ricketson lays bare the challenges of modern storytelling. I have found myself thinking about it every day, long after I put it down.' - William Powers, author of Hamlet's BlackBerry
'An essential guide for the true storyteller.' - Chloe Hooper, award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction
It's etched into our neurological pathways; we can't live without it. Telling true stories is one of the things that makes us human, and a strong narrative has the power to profoundly change the way we think.
Truman Capote's groundbreaking In Cold Blood set the tone. Narrative non-fiction now appears in print and online journalism as well as in books. Capote's work is also a classic case study of the thorny issues arising in telling true stories: how to maintain editorial independence while becoming close to your subject; how far to take the narrative when reporting on real events; whether an 'omniscient narrative voice' is appropriate for non-fiction; and what kind of relationship to create with the reader.
The stakes are high: true stories deal with real people, often at turning points in their lives. Matthew Ricketson uncovers the techniques of some of the best international practitioners from America, Australia and Britain, and shows how to produce authentic, vibrant and memorable writing.
Matthew Ricketson is Professor of Journalism at the University of Canberra and has worked as a journalist at The Age, The Australian and Time Australia magazine. He is the author of the bestselling guide Writing Feature Stories and of a biography of children's author Paul Jennings, and editor of The Best Australian Profiles.
Writing & Language
Table Of Contents:
1 Why true stories matter
2 What makes a true story?
3 Learning from the journalistic method
4 Learning from the novelist's sensibility
5 The Janet Malcolm dilemma: developing trust with principal sources and keeping editorial independence
6 The value of thinking about what is fact and what is fiction before writing
7 The narrator's voice: more than a question of writerly choice
8 Description: finding the balance between vivid intimacy and unnecessary hurtfulness
9 What if you weren't there? The difficulties of reconstructing scenes and dialogue
10 Interior monologues: are they 'one more doorbell to push', or the province of fiction?
11 What do readers expect of narrative non-fiction?
12 Building a relationship of informed trust with readers
A checklist for writers of narrative non-fiction
Allen & Unwin
Allen & Unwin
Paperback - C format
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Writing & editing guides