Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers' Guide from the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University

Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers' Guide from the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University

by Mark Kramer, Wendy Call
4.5 8

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Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers' Guide from the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a working journalist and think this is a superb book. I keep wanting to send quotes from it to all my journalist friends. Reading it is sometimes affirming, often provocative, and occasionally frustrating (if only my editors would let me work this way!). I learned somethig new from each essay and often felt like jumping up from my seat and shouting yes, Yes, YES, that's just what the writing experience is all about.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you like a good story, love a great story, and hope to consistently write both, then you should read this book -- and then re-read it. In 91 brief yet insightful essays, a collection of 51 talented authors, editors, reporters, radio producers, photographers - and, yes, a literary agent, screenwriter, and documentarian - distill invaluable advice on writing (and selling!) nonfiction. The contributors walk you through the process of telling a great story - from idea to polished piece (essay, article, book, documentary) - and all with a dose of good advice, realism, and wit. If you are interested in journalism, put this gem on your shelf beside Boynton's 'New New Journalism.' If you're interested in writing, squeeze it between Strunk and White's trusty little volume and Zinnser's 'On Writing Well.' And, with most essays at around 1,000 words, it's a manageable way to read many wise and delightful voices, from Susan Orlean to Tom Wolfe to Tracy Kidder to Gay Talese. You can't beat this: a guide to writing with advice from only people who truly know and continually produce great writing. If you want to write nonfiction - or, if you are a veteran writer trying to refresh your voice - then this is the book for you.
ShanJC More than 1 year ago
Telling True Stories is a must-read for anyone who communicates ideas through writing. It motivates a journalist amidst grueling tasks to strive for a higher standard. It's true to its name.
kimbakristin More than 1 year ago
Offering advice from 51 writers of narrative nonfiction, reading this little volume is like taking a master class from the greats. Writers like Gay Talese, Malcolm Gladwell, and Susan Orlean share what they've learned over the course of their careers, providing sharp insights and specific examples. It covers everything from artful interviewing, to story structure, to working with editors, to ethics. Having said that, many of the writers advocated for (or simply assumed) months-long immersion in research for a single story. As I was reading, I couldn't help but wonder how relevant that advice will continue to be, given the industry's ever-slimming budgets and declining word counts. Still, the best book I've read on the craft of writing.
WTVCrimeDawg More than 1 year ago
All serious writers must have this book. It's a collection of articles from top journalists, editors, radio producers, and memoirists. The main sections include Narrative and Picking a Topic, Researching and Reporting, Subgenre, Story Structure, Quality Work, Ethics, Editing and Revising, Narrative in News, and Careers. Some articles are better than others. Still, I thought a majority of them were effective, including the following: Stories Matter, The Psychological Interview, The Ladder of Abstraction, Travel Writing, To Begin the Beginning, A Story Structure, Summary Versus Dramatic Narrative, Endings, Character, Setting the Scene, Handling Time, On Voice, The Ethics of Attribution, On Style, and Serial Narratives. I could've listed many more effective articles, but I think you get the point. I highly recommend this book. It's geared toward creative nonfiction narrative, but it applies to fiction narrative as well. Buy it. You will not be disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Want to write true stories that will still be readable five, 10, 20, 50 years from now? Ever talk to someone who told you something that touched your heart, whether it's an experience they had or just a good yarn that you'll think about long after the conversation's over? These are the kinds of stories this book will show you how to write. The authors won't tell you exactly. That's a path you'll have to find out for yourself. But they'll give you guides, practical tips to learn how to talk and write like you're having a conversation with a reader who wants to know more about your story. I remember reading a version of these essays on the Nieman Narrative Digest, which is home to many newspaper examples of this kind of writing. The essays in this book are shorter, easier to read and cover lots of ground: newspapers, magazines, books and radio. As a working journalist for a mid-sized newspaper in Southwest Virginia, I've read countless of books discussing the techniques of narrative writing. This one ranks high above them. Many of the authors break down the elements of telling good stories. For example, listen to Susan Orlean talk about having voice in your stories: 'You can't invent a voice. And you can't imitate someone else's voice, though trying to can be a good exercise. It can lead you to begin to understand the mechanisms that convey the voice. Read your stories out loud so you can hear how you tell stories. As you read, ask yourself: Does it sound real? Would I have said it that way?' The editors of the book offer nice introductions to each section and tell you who you'll be reading in the next few pages. It reminds me of a book by Stanley Cavell called 'Cities of Words,' which is presented as a series of lectures in a classroom. The way this book is put together is similar. It reads like you're in class waiting for a lecture from folks such as Tom Wolfe, Susan Orlean, Tracy Kidder and others. There is no shortage of ideas, approaches to reporting and writing stories and you can't help but think how you would have tackled a famed writer's story if you were in their position. (Probably, not very well. But better, I'm assuming, than those who don't read this book.) Writing true stories is not the easiest way to spend your time. It can get very frustrating and confusing. That's why this book is important. It has given me a new perspective on how to approach these kinds of stories and that's why I recommend it.