Friday, July 31, 2015

My Review of ‘You Can’t Make This Stuff Up’

AUTHOR: Lee Gutkind

For anyone who doubts the maxim that truth is stranger than fiction, I suggest you read this book. It will put all doubt about that idea to rest.

If you are a creative writer, one of the great things about this book is that it empowers you. Non-fiction writing need not be dry and nothing but facts. In fact, writing the truth (in story form) has attained the status of a genre: creative non-fiction.

Lee Gutkind provides many excellent examples of great memoir and journalistic writing that fits the genre. For fiction writers, creative non-fiction provides yet another direction in which to focus one’s energies. Why make up a plot when you can craft an amazing story around actual events?

However, for those who might be interested in this form, be aware that creative non-fiction is not just making things up. It’s more like telling true stories with a storytelling arc imposed. Plus the level of detail that pulls the reader into the story.

It can also be a time-consuming pursuit, particularly if you decide to “embed” yourself in a group or situation you’re writing about. Such creative non-fiction requires a period of osmosis during which writers can soak up the details needed to properly embellish their work.

If you are interested in writing memoir or other creative non-fiction, I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

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