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A guide to the art of personal writing, by the author of Fierce Attachments and The End of the Novel of Love All narrative writing must pull from the raw material of life a tale that will shape experience, transform event, deliver a bit of wisdom. In a story or a novel the "I" who tells this tale can be, and often is, an unreliable narrator but in nonfiction the reader must always be persuaded that the narrator is speaking truth. How does one pull from one's own boring, agitated self the truth-speaker who will tell the story a personal narrative needs to tell? That is the question The Situation and the Story asks--and answers. Taking us on a reading tour of some of the best memoirs and essays of the past hundred years, Gornick traces the changing idea of self that has dominated the century, and demonstrates the enduring truth-speaker to be found in the work of writers as diverse as Edmund Gosse, Joan Didion, Oscar Wilde, James Baldwin, or Marguerite Duras. This book, which grew out of fifteen years teaching in MFA programs, is itself a model of the lucid intelligence that has made Gornick one of our most admired writers of nonfiction. In it, she teaches us to write by teaching us how to read: how to recognize truth when we hear it in the writing of others and in our own.
In the tradition of Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, a critically acclaimed National Book Award finalist shares inspiration and practical advice for writing a memoir. Writing memoir is a deeply personal, and consequential, undertaking. As the acclaimed author of five memoirs spanning significant turning points in her life, Beth Kephart has been both blessed and bruised by the genre. In Handling the Truth, she thinks out loud about the form—on how it gets made, on what it means to make it, on the searing language of truth, on the thin line between remembering and imagining, and, finally, on the rights of memoirists. Drawing on proven writing lessons and classic examples, on the work of her students and on her own memories of weather, landscape, color, and love, Kephart probes the wrenching and essential questions that lie at the heart of memoir. A beautifully written work in its own right, Handling the Truth is Kephart’s memoir-writing guide for those who read or seek to write the truth.
USE YOUR WORDS introduces the art of creative nonfiction to women who want to give written expression to their lives as mothers. Written by award-winning teacher and writer, Kate Hopper, this book will help women find the heart of their writing, learn to use motherhood as a lens through which to write the world, and turn their motherhood stories into art. Each chapter of USE YOUR WORDS focuses on an element of craft and contains a lecture, a published essay, and writing exercises that will serve as jumping-off points for the readers’ own writing. Chapter topics include: the importance of using concrete details, an overview of creative nonfiction as a genre, character development, voice, humor, tense and writing the “hard stuff,” reflection and back-story, structure, revision, and publishing. The content of each lecture is aligned with the essay/poem in that chapter to help readers more easily grasp the elements of craft being discussed. Together the chapters provide a unique opportunity for mother writers to learn and grow as writers. USE YOUR WORDS takes the approach that creative writing can be taught, and this underscores each chapter. When students learn to read like writers, to notice how a piece is put together, and to question the choices a writer makes, they begin to think like writers. When they learn to ground their writing in concrete, sensory details and begin to understand how to create believable characters and realistic dialogue, their own writing improves. USE YOUR WORDS reflects Kate’s style as a teacher, guiding the reader in a straightforward, nurturing, and passionate voice. As one student noted in a class evaluation: “Kate is a born writer and teacher, and her enthusiasm for essays about motherhood and for teaching the nuts and bolts of writing so that ordinary mothers have the tools to write their stories is a gift to the world. She is raising the value of motherhood in our society as she helps mothers build their confidence and strengthen their game as writers.”
Confident or fretful, solemn or sassy, tough or tender, casual or formal: the self you project in writing—your persona—is the byproduct of numerous decisions you make about what to say and how to say it. Though any single word or phrase or sentence might make little difference within the scope of an entire essay or book, collectively they create an impression of who you are or seem to be—an impression that’s sure to influence how readers respond to your work. Thus it’s essential to take charge of how you come across on the page, to craft an appropriate persona for whatever you’re writing, whether it’s a personal essay, a blog, a technical report, a letter to the editor, or a memoir. In this wise and ingenious little guide, noted essayist Carl Klaus shows you how to adapt your self to the needs of such varied nonfiction, by varying his own persona to illustrate the distinctive effect produced by each aspect and element of writing. Klaus divides his book into two parts: first, an introduction to the nature and function of a persona, then a survey of the most important elements of writing that contribute to the character of a persona, from point of view and organization to diction and sentence structure. Both parts contain exercises that will give you practice in developing a persona of your choice. Challenging and stimulating, each of his exercises focuses on a distinctly different aspect of composition and style, so as to help you develop the skills of a versatile and personable writer. By focusing on the most important ways of projecting your self in nonfiction prose, you can learn to craft a distinctive self in your writing.
A first-of-its-kind history, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir tells the epic story of how an all-volunteer group founded by persecuted religious outcasts grew into a multimedia powerhouse synonymous with the mainstream and with Mormonism itself. Drawing on decades of work observing and researching the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Michael Hicks examines the personalities, decisions, and controversies that shaped "America's choir." Here is the miraculous story behind the Tabernacle's world-famous acoustics, the anti-Mormonism that greeted early tours, the clashes with Church leaders over repertoire and presentation, the radio-driven boom in popularity, the competing visions of rival conductors, and the Choir's aspiration to be accepted within classical music even as Mormons sought acceptance within American culture at large. Everything from Billboard hits to TV appearances to White House performances paved the way for Mormonism's crossover triumph. Yet, as Hicks shows, such success raised fundamental concerns regarding the Choir's mission, functions, and image.
Developing nonfiction writers at any stage of their career Write Choices: Elements of Nonfiction Storytelling helps writers cultivate their nonfiction storytelling skills by exploring the universal decisions writers confront when crafting any kind of factual narrative. Rather than isolating various forms of narrative nonfiction into categories or genres, Sue Hertz focuses on examining the common choices all true storytellers encounter, whether they are writing memoir, literary journalism, personal essays, or travel essays. And since today’s writers are no longer confined to paper, Write Choices also includes digital storytelling options, and how writers can employ technology to enhance their narratives. Integrating not only her own insights and experience as a journalist, nonfiction book author, and writing instructor, but also those of other established nonfiction storytellers, both print and digital, Hertz aims to guide writers through key decisions to tell the best story possible. Blending how-to instruction with illuminating examples and commentaries drawn from original interviews with master storytellers, Write Choices is a valuable resource for all nonfiction writers, from essayists to memoirists to literary journalists, at any stage of their career.
Rich, funny, and moving personal narratives depend on a few key moments in time to anchor the story and give it impact. Shimmering Images teaches the aspiring memoirist how to locate key memories using Lisa's technique for finding, linking, and fleshing out those vibrant recollections of important moments and situations. Shimmering Images will address: *the difference between memoir and autobiography *how to claim your voice *the art of storytelling *honesty, truth, and compassion in writing *authentic dialogue and the need for specificity Readers will learn how to craft a short piece of narrative nonfiction grounded in their core memories and master a technique they can use over and over again for writing other narratives. A must-have book for anyone who has treasured Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott or Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.

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