Is there a "craft" to creative nonfiction?

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satyesu

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Like there is for fiction? How can I learn how to write it better?
 

Layla Nahar

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another stumping satyesu question. And I say that ... lovingly, S.

Yes, yes, and in the same way as fiction. Read, write, get critiqued, rinse, lather, repeat.
 

Siri Kirpal

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Of course there is! Basic writing rules are the same.

If you're writing memoir, the basic difference between that and writing fiction is that with fiction you build your story adding whatever you need, but with memoir you subtract all the extraneous stuff that's not part of the story you're extracting from your life.

I've used Writing Life Stories by Bill Roorbach with Kristen Keckler and Your Life as Story by Tristine Rainer. The first one also cover some other sorts of creative non-fic.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal
 

Tazlima

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There's a craft to every kind of writing.

Consider different kinds of vocal music. Tuvan throat singing, beatboxing, and singing opera may require different skillsets, but they're all difficult and require countless hours of practice to master.

Luckily for you, there's a lot of overlap. All three types of music above require breath control, an ear trained for pitch, the ability to keep rhythm, etc. If you're a solid fiction writer already, you won't have to learn from scratch, you'll just have to determine how creative nonfiction differs from fiction and develop those particular skills on top of your existing foundation.
 

satyesu

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I'm planning a memoir of sorts. It's more like a zeitgeist book I don't expect to be a zeitgeist, or a time capsule: some friends and I are going to write about what's happened in our generation (millennials/Gen Y) and thoughts on it both to present ourselves by​ ourselves to older people and leave something for younger and future ones. So I'm not sure how to work on getting my prose good for that. I've tried fiction before, and I know how to construct sentences, etc, but what kind of things were you referring to being like rules for fiction? I could probably stand to work on those, because my fiction is lousy.
 

Justobuddies

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I think that the basics of being engaging and entertaining are the same regardless of medium. Show don't tell (you'll see that all over the place in critiques), I think of the Planet Earth documentary for this, the narrator only provides context for what is being shown, if you must use tell keep in brief and concise to provide context. Keep the voice active and engaging, I spent a semester in a business writing class for my undergrad that only worked on breaking us of passive voice writing. You can write in an active voice and still be factual.
 

Siri Kirpal

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For zeitgeist memoir, you show it in action and context and dialogue while you tell whatever your story is. You still need an character arc; in this case, YOU'RE the character. If it's a group memoir, then either each section or all the sections together need an arc. For both fiction and memoir, you use sensory detail (what does that smell and taste and feel and look like).

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal