This workshop is open to writers who have already taken a writing workshop or published at least one short piece of prose fiction or non-fiction.
Limited to 12 participants.
Narrative non-fiction took off in the 1960s, when writers like Tom Wolfe, Joan Didion, and Gay Talese started using the techniques of fiction writers to tell true stories. Sometimes called New Journalism, the genre exploded when fiction writers like Truman Capote and Norman Mailer switched over to non-fiction, attaining major critical and popular praise. The ever-increasing demand for non-fiction writing highlights readers’ desire to connect with stories that make sense of their surroundings.
Narrative non-fiction blends reporting, research, and storytelling. In this workshop we’ll learn about how to write scenes that are true to life. Instead of simply stating what happened, we’ll explore how to create a scene, as a screenwriter or novelist might. Your task will be to impose a narrative on reality – and make it interesting to readers. We’ll talk about the techniques behind writing about your own experience, and about documenting other people’s lives. We’ll discuss what constitutes non-fiction – and what doesn’t. We’ll speak about how to get access to places off-limits to most civilians, how to approach interesting characters, and how to interview them. We’ll also speak about mining rich veins of source material from dusty old books, or weird scientific studies, or unusual academic treatises.
Each of you will be asked to present one piece of writing to the group, which will be workshopped by the group. (Participants will read and discuss each other’s writing.) I will also hand out some examples of narrative non-fiction to illustrate what it is we’re speaking about. These will also inform and inspire your own work in the workshop. No advance work is required for the workshop, but do have an idea of what you’d like to work on in our time together. In our second session, we’ll be discussing what each student plans on workshopping.
Important Note: This workshop will start online. If conditions continue to improve, it may be possible to switch to a hybrid delivery system later this spring if the workshop leader and participants wish to do so.