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Flash Nonfiction

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Mar. 12th, 2014 | 12:12 pm

So a lot of us around the LJ write short, personal pieces. Sometimes diaries, sometimes literary.

When you're feeling literary, here's a fascinating short article about how using the "I" perspective, even in a journalistic piece, can give greater meaning and perspective to the work.

In AWP 2014: Truth and First Person Journalism, Samantha Claire Updegrave writes:

It boils down to trusting our intuition with our writing, to asking if our experiences or interactions with the subject matter lead us to the truth, a “go big” where our presence brings the reader in and illuminates the story, world, or some aspect of our shared humanity.

I love this idea, that it's not just about "what does this story have to say about me," but "what does me telling this story bring to the reader's understanding." For those of us heading back into LJ Idol, this can be a question that helps us find a purpose to our personal nonfiction that's reader-oriented rather than storyteller-oriented or therapeutic. Both those latter qualities can of course be part of a great reading experience, but provoking an experience for the reader takes our work up a level.

She also talks about starting with examining the lies we tell every day, as springboards for personal essays. Fascinating prompt ideas!

AWP, by the way, is a yearly convention for writers and grad students. There are discussion panels (mostly literary and academic-writing focused, but some popular-lit oriented), lots of booths representing literary journals, magazines, and graduate writing programs. I've never been, but I hear it's pretty neat.






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Comments {12}

Madame Blue aka Pygment

Maybe this is why I'm stuck

from: sweetmmeblue
date: Mar. 12th, 2014 04:22 pm (UTC)
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I wrote over 100,000 word story and wrote it from the fist person. Then I got the advice that doing this as s first time writer is not a good idea and I started editing the first couple of chapters to non-first person. Then I stopped and haven't touched the piece since. I can't muster the energy to take it out of the way I wrote it.

Edited at 2014-03-12 04:23 pm (UTC)

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whipchick

Re: Maybe this is why I'm stuck

from: whipchick
date: Mar. 12th, 2014 05:03 pm (UTC)
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Is it fiction or nonfiction?

I don't agree about first-time writers not writing in first person :) Write what makes the story work!

Does the protagonist have an overwhelming need to tell this story? Then it's first person. Is it important for the reader to see stuff the protagonist doesn't? Then it's probably not first person, but there could still be first-person sections.

100,000 is long for a first novel or memoir, but that's good, because now you can keep the best stuff and edit down anything that's not as strong.

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Madame Blue aka Pygment

Re: Maybe this is why I'm stuck

from: sweetmmeblue
date: Mar. 12th, 2014 05:07 pm (UTC)
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It's fiction. I took what you said about non-fic and had it resonate with this because I tell stories like non-fiction, even when it is fiction. The characters are present for me.

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drwex

You might find this relevant

from: drwex
date: Mar. 12th, 2014 04:39 pm (UTC)
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http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2014/03/10/satoshi-why-newsweek-isnt-convincing/

Felix Salmon writes about why the Newsweek piece on their purported find of the Bitcoin inventor was not convincing. He talks about how things like magazine articles necessarily leave out a lot and how what you leave in can be structured different ways. It's a bit of a long read but definitely worthwhile.

Also I totally recommend reading the Vanity Fair piece he links to. It's one of the best-written non-fiction takedown pieces I've ever read.

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whipchick

Re: You might find this relevant

from: whipchick
date: Mar. 12th, 2014 05:04 pm (UTC)
Link

Thank you!

Have you seen the Longform site? They put out links each week to both current and older essays and journalism -- you might like it.

http://www.longform.org

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drwex

Re: You might find this relevant

from: drwex
date: Mar. 12th, 2014 05:29 pm (UTC)
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No, I haven't seen that site. I will mark it, but I don't read the blogs I have marked now as often as I might, so who knows.

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the key of the day and the lock of the night

(no subject)

from: locknkey
date: Mar. 12th, 2014 06:33 pm (UTC)
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I love this as it kind of aligns with my own take on choosing person/tense. As an artist I feel the art/medium speaks through you and so I typically 'listen' to what my story wants to say, who it is speaking to and go with what feels intuitive. I think it's interesting that in fiction we are seeing more present tense and first person usage. The readers 'comfort' is not always a win for the story, the writer, or the reader.

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shay_writes

(no subject)

from: shay_writes
date: Mar. 12th, 2014 07:03 pm (UTC)
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Thank you. It was interesting to read.

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Ellakite

You're preaching to the choir, here...

from: ellakite
date: Mar. 12th, 2014 09:10 pm (UTC)
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I've never shied away from using the "I" perspective, as appropriate... but that's me.

How have you been?

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favoritebean

(no subject)

from: favoritebean
date: Mar. 12th, 2014 11:53 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for sharing this. Interesting food for thought.

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Didn't want to be

(no subject)

from: anyonesghost
date: Mar. 13th, 2014 01:39 pm (UTC)
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I tend not to do creative nonfiction very much*, but I think the closing ("Write with integrity, and don't be boring") is something we should have stenciled above our writing desks (or suede couches, or kitchen tables - wherever the magic happens). Indeed, I think even my grocery lists border on "choose your own adventure." :-)

 

 

*Not with any consistency since my original LJ account. One or two attempts during Exhibit B fell with a dull thud; I either need to get more practice or realize my limitations. ;-)

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Andrea Blythe

(no subject)

from: blythe025
date: Mar. 18th, 2014 05:37 am (UTC)
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Great essay. I've been trying to think about how to tell more nonfiction stories on my blog and this is a great way to think about it.

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