The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Nonfiction
From the work of the New Journalists in the 1960s, to the New Yorker essays of John McPhee, Susan Orlean, Atul Gawande, and a host of others, to blockbuster book-length narratives such as Mary Roach’s Stiff or Erik Larson’s Devil in the White City, narrative nonfiction has come into its own. Yet writers looking for guidance on reporting and writing true stories have had few places to turn for advice. Now in Storycraft, Jack Hart, a former managing editor of the Oregonian who guided several Pulitzer Prize–winning narratives to publication, delivers what will certainly become the definitive guide to the methods and mechanics of crafting narrative nonfiction.
Hart covers what writers in this genre need to know, from understanding story theory and structure, to mastering point of view and such basic elements as scene, action, and character, to drafting, revising, and editing work for publication. Revealing the stories behind the stories, Hart brings readers into the process of developing nonfiction narratives by sharing tips, anecdotes, and recommendations he forged during his decades-long career in journalism. From there, he expands the discussion to other well-known writers to show the broad range of texts, styles, genres, and media to which his advice applies. With examples that draw from magazine essays, book-length nonfiction narratives, documentaries, and radio programs, Storycraft will be an indispensable resource for years to come.
"If you have any interest in trying to craft the kind of narrative nonfiction practiced by the likes of John McPhee, Mary Roach, Tracy Kidder, Susan Orlean and Erik Larson, this is a book for you. . . . It offers any nonfiction writer, and freelancer, concrete ways to think about a topic, visualize the most interesting way of presenting its narrative arc, and organize most effectively the presentation of material."
“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.”
“Jack Hart was hands-down the best narrative editor ever to work in newspapers.”
“I’d tell you that I am the best writing coach there is—if I didn’t know Jack Hart.”
“In Storycraft, Jack Hart vividly explains a lifetime of valuable lessons in nonfiction narrative. For all the celebrity star power he brings to this book, his introduction makes the topic welcoming and accessible to students and reporters who may be new to the subject. And he practices what he preaches; this book entertains the reader. It’s like listening to Mark Twain on how to tell a story.”
“Despite a career focused on the world of journalism, the author demonstrates much insight into the canon of more "literary" creative nonfiction by choosing sound examples that are both accessible and widely acclaimed. . . . This book can function as both a practical introduction to narrative nonfiction and a concise refresher for professionals.”
“For me, [Hart’s] book's appearance was fruitful timing, not unlike finding a new recipe the morning of a dinner party and realizing all the ingredients are in your pantry. Hart's Storycraft: The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Nonfiction fortified me. It underscored lessons I thought I'd already mastered, prompting me to think deeper—and talk to my editors more—about the importance of theme."—Nieman Reports
Chapter 1: Story
Chapter 2: Structure
Chapter 3: Point of View
Chapter 4: Voice and Style
Chapter 5: Character
Chapter 6: Scene
Chapter 7: Action
Chapter 8: Dialogue
Chapter 9: Theme
Chapter 10: Reporting
Chapter 11: Story Narratives
Chapter 12: Explanatory Narratives
Chapter 13: Other Narratives
Chapter 14: Ethics