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The Art of Creative Nonfiction: Writing and Selling the Literature of Reality (Wiley Books for Writers Series) Paperback – January 1, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0471113560 ISBN-10: 0471113565 Edition: 1st

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The Art of Creative Nonfiction: Writing and Selling the Literature of Reality (Wiley Books for Writers Series) + You Can't Make This Stuff Up: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction--from Memoir to Literary Journalism and Everything in Between + In Fact: The Best of Creative Nonfiction
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Product Details

  • Series: Wiley Books for Writers Series
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (January 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471113565
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471113560
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #404,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This book is for the beginning creative nonfiction writer--one who needs to be told that writers are an eccentric lot; one who has never heard of the Yaddo artists' colony. Still, Lee Gutkind, the author of several books of creative nonfiction and the founder/editor of the journal Creative Nonfiction, has some interesting things to tell us about this genre of writing, which strives to communicate real-life stories dramatically. The most important quality that a creative nonfiction writer can have, writes Gutkind, is passion: "A passion for the written word; a passion for the search and discovery of knowledge; and a passion for ... understand[ing] intimately how things in this world work." Gutkind offers instruction on finding story ideas, focusing one's work, keeping story files, fact checking, and interviewing; he tells us what to expect from editors and agents; and he teaches us how to know when we're ready to start writing (when you can "think of nothing more to ask or to learn"). Perhaps the best tidbit here is Gutkind's emphasis on delving deeply into one's subject matter without inserting oneself into the situation. "While immersing myself in a writing project," he says, "I routinely like to compare myself to a rather undistinguished and utilitarian end table in a living room or office. It is a fixture. You walk in and out of your living room dozens of times a day. You see the table, you expect to see the table, but you do not say, 'Well, there is the table, hello table.'" Appendices include a sample book proposal and readings.

From the Publisher

A pioneer in the writing and teaching of nonfiction presents a practical guide to composing creative nonfiction that covers the entire process--from initial psychological preparation to marketing a finished piece. Written in an engaging style, the book provides pertinent information on conducting research, using interviews, "immersion journalism," cinematic writing, the ethical and moral concerns of writing subjective truth and more. Features examples culled from the author's journal, Creative Nonfiction, to illustrate writing techniques.

Customer Reviews

I'd recommend it to anyone planning to write a nonfiction book.
Jane Howell
Buy it today--he's the godfather of the genre, creative nonfiction, and the editor and founder of the only journal devoted exclusively to the genre.
wendelstedt
There is simply not enough valuable content in Gutkind's book to warrent a full reading.
mikew

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 11, 1997
Format: Paperback
Gutkind's advice covers aspects of writing others neglect. He tells how to access your strengths, lists grant funding sources, and provides detailed illustrations of how to organize for a productive career. Learn vital tips for keeping current with your market, for assessing your competition, for deciding what voice your article or book requires, as well as, how truth figures into nonfiction writing. Gutkind includes a sample book proposal to guide your efforts, discusses pros and cons of getting a M.F.A. degree, and nuts and bolts like interviewing, researching, specializing, and focusing your writing. This book is less about selling and more about writing something that will sell
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful By wendelstedt on June 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
How often has a piece of nonfiction writing left you bored to tears with its rambling of fact after fact, a completely limp, motionless piece? Well, Gutkind has developed a structured teaching method for this genre: frame, focus and scene. Once you understand his "yellow test," your writing will vastly improve, bursting with energy and radiating the essence of life, that is, the truth with a capital "T." He lifts your head, redirecting you from gazing into your own belly button, and unveils the techniques of capturing and presenting universal themes--a focus that touches us all. This book not only shows you how to write, more importantly, it show you how to think. Buy it today--he's the godfather of the genre, creative nonfiction, and the editor and founder of the only journal devoted exclusively to the genre.
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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book reads like an outline of a book on Creative Nonfiction. A beginner might find some chapters useful or inspiring, but anyone with writing experience is likely to find it too shallow. The chapter on Immersion--one of the key methods of reporting a highly detailed, creative story--is only 8 pages long, gives a few anecdotes, but provides next to no useful information to a writer contemplating this technique. The following chapter, on interviewing, is 10 pages long and more than half of it is composed of long excerpts from other stories. You might see the _results_ of doing a good interview, but not much beyond the obvious in actually carrying out a good interview.
This book doesn't stand out for me among the large number of mediocre books aimed at beginning to intermediate nonfiction writers.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Sissalou on February 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
Initially I was afraid to invest hard cash on this book because I want my nonfiction to be totally factual. However, my fears were unfounded. This book was well worth the investment and I recommend it to all aspiring writers of nonfiction. The book is a tremendous eye-opener. It blows the myth that nonfiction writing has to be dull. Dull does not sell. If you are writing nonfiction, you need to read this book. For one thing, the author teaches that the words "creative" and "fiction" are not synonymous. You CAN write creative nonfiction.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
A clown for Ringling Brothers, an assistant in liver and heart transplantation surgeries, a baseball umpire, a motorcyclist and a participant in psychotherapy: When it comes to having the experience necessary to write interesting essays, Lee Gutkind is ahead of the game. In his textbook "The Art of Creative Nonfiction : Writing and Selling the Literature of Reality," Gutkind uses his passion for the written word and the experiences that inspire it to assist beginning creative nonfiction writers in their quest to share life through writing.

Covered in the book's outline-reminiscent chapters are instructions on interviewing, fact checking, finding ideas, creating dialogue and keeping story files. Straying from the norm of "interesting... [and] accurate," Gutkind stresses that the most important requirement of a creative nonfiction writer is passion- "A passion for the written word, a passion for the search and discovery of knowledge, and a passion for... understand[ing] intimately how things in this world work." In the following chapters, he offers advice on what creative nonfiction is (the relation experiences, often subjective) and is not (encyclopedia truth) in a concise yet affable manner.

Peppered with brief works from other writers used as illustrations of his suggestions, "The Art of Creative Nonfiction" is a solid, friendly text for beginning writers and an excellent stepping stone into the world of writing for a career.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By mikew on December 8, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a complete waste of money. The book i read the day before i read this was phenomenal: Writing Life Stories: How to make memories into memoirs, ideas into essays, and life into literature. It really is the best craft book i've ever come across, no contest. The excersies in it are creative, fun and (most of all) extremely helpful when it comes to figuring out what your weakness is AND THEN how to overcome them. You will get none of that in AoCN. There is little 'warning' about what can derail your writing. And there is, seriously, NOTHING that takes that next step and teaches you to overcome something you may realize you are not good at.

There is simply not enough valuable content in Gutkind's book to warrent a full reading. I had to force myself to finish it, hoping that I would learn something new. That did not happen.

What bothered me most was that this author spends WAY too much time explaining the books and essays he has written. He threw in an incredibly long excerpt from one of his books, and then gives about three paragraphs of information of why reading his excerpt should have taught me something. I couldn't believe this guy threw in a section about ego in the midst of this nearly shameless advertising of his own works. This book comes off as a guy bragging about his own work. This book does not encourage the reader to do much of anything, whereas the other book i referenced above makes you want to dive in and do the excersises for months on end because the book gets you so fired up to write, on top of that, it gets you fired up to practice getting better on your flaws as a writer--it gets you fired up to continue learning, not simply 'wow, I want to get down to writing my memoir this second!
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More About the Author

Lee Gutkind, recognized by Vanity Fair as "the Godfather behind creative nonfiction," is the author and editor of more than 25 books and founder and editor of Creative Nonfiction, the first and largest literary magazine to publish narrative nonfiction exclusively. He is Distinguished Writer-in-Residence in the Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes at Arizona State University and a professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication

Gutkind has lectured to audiences around the world--from China to the Czech Republic, from Australia to Africa to Egypt. He has appeared on many national radio and televisions shows, including The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central), Good Morning America, National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation and All Things Considered, as well as BBC World.

Gutkind is the recipient of grants and awards from many different organizations, from the National Endowment for the Arts to the National Science Foundation.

A prolific author, his most recent books include An Immense New Power to Heal: The Promise of Personalized Medicine and an anthology, At the End of Life: True Stories About How We Die.

His new book, You Can't Make This Stuff Up, is described by Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief and Rin Tin Tin, as the "essential and definitive guide to creative nonfiction . . . engaging, useful, indispensable and inspiring."

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The Art of Creative Nonfiction: Writing and Selling the Literature of Reality (Wiley Books for Writers Series)
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