- Series: Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing
- Paperback: 280 pages
- Publisher: University of Chicago Press; Reprint edition (October 12, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780226318165
- ISBN-13: 978-0226318165
- ASIN: 0226318168
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 84 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Storycraft: The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Nonfiction (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing) Reprint Edition
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"If you have any interest in trying to craft the kind of narrative nonfiction practiced by the likes of John McPhee, Mary Roach, Tracy Kidder, Susan Orlean and Erik Larson, this is a book for you. . . . It offers any nonfiction writer, and freelancer, concrete ways to think about a topic, visualize the most interesting way of presenting its narrative arc, and organize most effectively the presentation of material."
“Instructive and essential, reading Storycraft is like finding the secret set of blueprints to the writer's craft. Better still, it is engaging, funny, and wise—wonderful to read and wonderful to learn from.”
“Jack Hart was hands-down the best narrative editor ever to work in newspapers.”
“I’d tell you that I am the best writing coach there is—if I didn’t know Jack Hart.”
“In Storycraft, Jack Hart vividly explains a lifetime of valuable lessons in nonfiction narrative. For all the celebrity star power he brings to this book, his introduction makes the topic welcoming and accessible to students and reporters who may be new to the subject. And he practices what he preaches; this book entertains the reader. It’s like listening to Mark Twain on how to tell a story.”(Norman Sims, University of Massachusetts Amherst)
“Despite a career focused on the world of journalism, the author demonstrates much insight into the canon of more "literary" creative nonfiction by choosing sound examples that are both accessible and widely acclaimed. . . . This book can function as both a practical introduction to narrative nonfiction and a concise refresher for professionals.”
About the Author
Jack Hart is a former managing editor and writing coach at the Oregonian. He received the first National Teaching Award from the American Society of Newspaper Editors and  a University of Wisconsin Distinguished Service Award for his contributions to journalism, has taught on the faculties of six universities, and was named the Ruhl Distinguished Professor at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. He is the author of A Writer’s Coach.
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One example: Hart has the best explanation of the importance and use of theme that I've found anywhere. He says, "theme statement suggests your structure. It guides your reporting. It helps you find a title. If you have to cut, it tells you what can go and what must stay. In one way or another, it affects every phase of the writing"
He then goes on to show how he helped writers find the themes of stories that went on to win national writing prizes.
This is a book for people who want to get good at writing exceptional, compelling nonfiction. Hart is a master craftsman. In Storycraft he clearly explains his craft to those who want to learn.
Both the book and the author definitely have the ring of authority. According to my Kindle, about 32% of the book is devoted to references and footnotes. I wish they were annotated footnotes, which are often worth reading, but these ones generally contain just the reference (which I'm sure the author thought was important to include).
The writing was very good, as were the examples the author used. There were only a few places (mostly early in the book) where it felt like things were bogging down, or the connection between the body text and the examples was hard to find.
The pace was fine too--it was neither a light nor tedious read, just about right for the subject matter.
If I had to pick a nit, it would be in the (seemingly endless) number of words and sentences in the early part of the book devoted to scrupulously making full references to authors (full names) and their various articles to support one of the author's points. Many times the author would make a point, and basically say, "Joe X was a master at this in whatever, as was X in Y, and W in Z." No examples of writing from these articles were given for the reader, so it bordered on nothing more than name dropping to me.
Having said that, the obvious gravitas and authority of the author made me believe that he was not the sort of person to just name drop for name dropping's sake. I'm sure he had a different intent (such as seriously meaning to support his points), but the utility of all the references was lost on me. Worse yet, it felt like more than a few such references were repeated in full, so I just skipped ahead when I saw another paragraph of that type.
All in all, an excellent book by an author who clearly is a master at what he does. The book is worth every penny and every minute that I spent with it. I highlighted huge sections of the book, and was both surprised and pleased when I came to the big second topic of explanatory nonfiction, which exactly matched my current project, so I could immediately apply his excellent advice.
I'd give this book 6 of 5 if I could. I gave it 9 (excellent, couldn't put it down) of 9 on my personal scale. I would strongly recommend this work to all writers, both fiction and nonfiction.
But this, it's filled with gems. I didn't even complete the thing, just going through the core of story structure -- really changed the way I see cinema movies for good.. I'd sit there seeing how the layer the pieces together and how they fit into the structure the book shows. Plus, the book gives snippet examples throughout to really bring the point home.