A Note from Jack Hart
Sebastian Junger’s War, Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains, David Grann’s The Lost City of Z—narrative nonfiction has become the literature of our time. It captures reality with the sophisticated storytelling techniques of fiction. But it adds the power that comes when, as Tom Wolfe once put it, readers know “all this actually happened.”
Narrative nonfiction has flowered across media, from newspapers and magazines, to books and documentary film, to radio, television, and new digital forms. Despite the diversity, narrative springs from a common theory of story and employs shared techniques. But surprisingly little help exists for writers who want to create the kind of nonfiction that dominates today’s real-world storytelling.
During decades spent editing some of the country’s most successful nonfiction writers, I had a rare chance to learn what creates compelling true stories, and I’ve collected those lessons in Storycraft: The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Nonfiction. Most of the examples I’ve used are available in bookstores, libraries, or on-line. But some of the stories I edited, including newspaper narratives that won Pulitzer Prizes and other national awards, are less accessible. So we’ve posted the complete versions here.
“Instructive and essential, reading Storycraft is like finding the secret set of blueprints to the writer’s craft. Better still, it is engaging, funny, and wise—wonderful to read and wonderful to learn from.”—Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief
“When I think back on what I have learned about storytelling over the last thirty years, the trail of memory leads back time and again to Jack Hart. No one has done more to inspire better narrative writing in America.”—Roy Peter Clark, author of Writing Tools and The Glamour of Grammar