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(Andrea Pitzer's Nieman Storyboard report from Mayborn Conference, 8-6-10).
"Theres only one way I know to get people to the end of the story... There has to be a holdback." Narrative nonfiction events and conferencesis there something here for you?
With narrative nonfiction you don't present the main point in the first paragraphcompelling narrative keeps the reader reading to find out what happens, and the journey to the epiphany is half the point.
Narrative nonfiction--joining good research with compelling, character-driven storytelling--reads like a novel.
The future of long-form narrative by Gerry Marzorati, the NY Times Magazine editor's keynote address at the 2009 CASE Editors' Forum Gary Smith on intimacy and connecting with subjects (Any uneasiness you bring is going to cost you dearly," says the writer from Sports Illustrated).
Andrea Pitzer, for Nieman Storyboard, reporting on the Mayborn Conference. 4 is] a well-wrought road map to navigating the twists and turns, thrills and pitfalls, and joys and sorrows of the writer's journey." ―Donna Marie Smith, Library Journal The Art of Fact: A Historical Anthology of Literary Journalism , ed.
The Nieman Narrative Digest (see links below) provides links to many excellent newspaper series that take advantage of the form.
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Helpful tips from a Harvard writers conference (Livia Blackburn's blog, A Brain Scientist's Take on Writing) The Storytellers Summit blog . Kevin Kerrane and Ben Yagoda The Elements of Story: Field Notes on Nonfiction Writing, by Francis Flaherty (excellent short takes on the architecture, bones, & tendrils of story and character development, especially for journalism) Follow the Story: How to Write Successful Nonfiction by James Stewart To Show and to Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction by Phillip Lopate Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft, by Janet Burroway Now Write!
You can watch videos of great talks from this conference held at the University of Florida in 2010: Roy Peter Clark, Andrea Billups, David Finkel, Ellis Amburn, Lane De Gregory, Keith Sykes & Tom Corcoran, Liz Balmaseda & Fabiola Santiago, Tom French, and three biographers: John Capouya, William Mc Keen & Ellis Amburn. With humor and aplomb, he recalls anecdotes about how he approached a story: from interviewing and reporting to drafting and revising, to working with editors and publishers . Nonfiction: Memoir, Journalism and Creative Nonfiction Exercises from Today's Best Writers ed.
(Nieman Storyboard on why the classic narrative nonfiction stories work) Excellent online examples of narrative journalism Accuracy, honesty, and truth in narrative nonfiction Characters in narrative nonfiction Narrative nonfiction goes under many names, including creative nonfiction, literary journalism, and fact-based storytelling.
In short form, it's an alternative to the traditional newspaper pyramid structure (in which, if you lopped off the bottom part of the story, the reader would still have all the key information).
Basically, it's fact-based storytelling that makes people want to keep reading.