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The Art of Creative Nonfiction: Writing and Selling the Literature of Reality

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  183 ratings  ·  21 reviews
A complete guide to the art and craft of creative nonfiction—from one of its pioneer practitioners

The challenge of creative nonfiction is to write the truth in a style that is as accurate and informative as reportage, yet as personal, provocative, and dramatic as fiction. In this one-of-a-kind guide, award-winning author, essayist, teacher, and editor Lee Gutkind gives you
Paperback, 211 pages
Published 1997 by Wiley
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Lynn Lipinski
Jul 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Lee Gutkind serves as a father of the art of creative nonfiction, so I had high expectations for his book on the topic. And yet, I found it disappointing. Chock-a-bloc full of typical writing advice you can get in most writing books, Gutkind seems to have little new to add to the usual tips to use specific details, dialogue and write in scene. Throughout the book, he includes long excerpts of his own writing which he cites as a model examples of techniques. His writing is good, yet something sit ...more
Sep 05, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Writers, Aspiring Writers, People who have a great life story to tell
This book is great for anyone who would like to learn how to write nonfiction in a way that you don't have to worry about slaving over every single detail to make sure that it it 100% correct. Let's face it, everyone fudges a little when writing nonfiction stories about people's lives becuase sometimes putting a little more action or excitement into the writing makes it much more readable (except maybe Mr. Frey who is a liar liar pants on fire total fabricator). Nonfiction is meant to be truthfu ...more
Nikki Shields
Mar 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
As an avid reader and a writer of non-fiction, I was drawn into what the author shared. He provides useful information, and captivating examples of creative non-fiction. As a working writer, however, I didn't find a lot of useful information on publishing. Things have changed too much since the book was published. It was still a good read, though, and kept me entertained. ...more
D.G. Kaye
Jun 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book encompasses the art of writing nonfiction with creating dramatic interest without losing the truth of what is being written. Gutkind demonstrates the craft by dissecting his own methods for writing.
Ryan Trimble
May 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Great little book. Super fast read, and enjoyable too. A bit too much self-promotion of the author's own pieces, but Gutkind has some great insights. Very practical tips, too. Not just theory. ...more
Jan 21, 2021 added it
Recommends it for: MFA students, writers
I saw Mr. Gutkind speaking in person at the 2017 Creative Nonfiction Conference in Pittsburgh, so reading his book I could hear his style, personality, and self-confidence jump off the page. He refers to himself as the Godfather of Creative Nonfiction (CNF), and he certainly doesn’t hesitate to quote himself and his previously published works widely and extensively in order to demonstrate his points.

And there were many helpful points made in the book, most importantly that good CNF must present
Steven Northover
Sep 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
I liked this book. I found it in the library last week. I read it over two days. Here are a few of my "takeaways":
Have a passion for the written word, for knowledge discovery, for observation, and for people.

Study other peoples' writing. The foundation for good writing is good reading.
Study writings mechanics and architecture.

Tell your story in scenes. Use dialog and description to move the story forward. Learn to identify scenes in other peoples' writing. See how other writers tie the scenes t
Sarah Davies
Jan 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
This was a re-read for me, but enjoyable nevertheless. Gutkind explains the process of writing creative non-fiction using examples of his own writing and that of other prominent creative non-fiction writers.
Nov 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Much of this advice is generic and the book is quite dated now.
Catherine Tan
Jun 06, 2016 rated it liked it
EDIT: Two years after I first read this book, I read it again, and begin to change my idea of it. (That it significantly altered my "literary vision", as I'd dramatically put forth then, is dubious.) This book is really for beginners in the craft of writing who just want to try their hand at it. Most of the wisdom here can be learned through experiences with the actual act of writing (and experimenting), and in constantly thinking about these experiences. If one is a critical reader, perhaps his ...more
Caleb Liu
Mar 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library
A rather dated but still useful book providing some useful tips on how to write creative non-fiction from one of the masters (and the editor of the eponymous magazine Creative Non-Fiction). Unfortunately, much has changed since he wrote it with the advent of the internet, perhaps giving longform journalism a possible second wind.

The advice is largely commonsensical (which is not to say it isn't needed) - observe what is around you, read good writing, write about what you care about (but remembe
Jan 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
As someone new to the genre I thought this was a fantastic look at the foundations from someone who laid those bricks.

I especially valued the recommended reading list in the back and detailed discussion of scene/integrating scenes and framing your story--understanding these aspects of narrative is crucial because when you're working with the truth, you may have to play with these elements to keep a reader interested.
Aug 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
This book is a good starting place for non-fiction writers. One of the most valuable resources in it is list of some the best in creative non-fiction. It is a shame that as other reviewers here already mentioned--the book is in a desperate need of an update to talk about changes due to the Internet.
Dec 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
I started this book this past spring, so it was long overdue that I get it finished! I'll post a more substantive review later, once I've had time to chew on it for a bit. Lee Gutkind is the inventor of the term "creative non-fiction," so of course, I had to read his book. Overall, I liked it and am glad I read it. More later. ...more
T.Martin Bennett
Sep 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
A pretty good book, though a bit dated, explaining this much misunderstood genre of creative nonfiction, also called the nonfiction novel. Author relies almost exclusively on his own material a bit to the detriment of the book. Still, a worthwhile book.
Dec 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Excellent book for anyone interested in writing nonfiction (advertising and pr copywriters included).
Christyna Hunter
Apr 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Good reference book for those planning to write in the creative non-fiction field.
This is a wonderful writing guide for writers beginning to write creative non-fiction -- one to keep handy as a resource.
Aug 09, 2011 added it
Didn't tell me anything I didn't already know. Plus, it's outdated - pre-web. ...more
Nov 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
They call this guy, Lee Gutkind the father of the creative nonfiction genre. Sort of a "how-to" book to make sure I'm going the right way with this thing...
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Lee Gutkind has been recognized by Vanity Fair as “the godfather behind creative nonfiction.” A prolific writer, he has authored and edited over twenty-five books, and is the founder and editor of Creative Nonfiction, the first and largest literary magazine to publish only narrative nonfiction. Gutkind has received grants, honors, and awards from numerous organizations including the National Endow ...more

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