Saturday, February 21, 2009

In Response to Feb. 5 Memoir: Who Cares? [Notes from the AWP]

At the AWP last weekend, I attended a session entitled Why Would You Say That?: Issues of Nonfiction and Fiction in Young Writers' Lives. It really cleared up a lot of things for me when thinking about creative nonfiction and was sort of an aha! moment.

During the panel, the speakers discussed the importance of narrative tension. Too many times you writers think that CNF is writing a story exactly as it happened--and not adding narrative tension and heightening the plot arc. Just because something's true doesn't mean you still can"t craft it into a compelling story. 

There's a difference between what happened and what the author makes out of it. 

There's also a difference between the you as an author and you as a character. 

A key suggestion for CNF stories that are struggling is to find to stories that aren't quite related, but can but juxtaposed, and stick them together to create a compelling piece. 

One question to ask of your CNF piece: Is it inviting or showing off?

And finally, one thing the panelists (some of whom are editors of literary magazines) all agreed on was this: they love beautiful CNF writing that goes to a realization beyond itself.

Thank you, panelists, for speaking eloquently, for patiently explaining, giving helpful hints, and being honest. Thank you, because know I have a better idea what to do with some of my own CNF and feel like plenty of people out there do care.

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Just took an internship position with Another Chicago Magazine this week (site has not been recently updated). I'm doing some marketing and business related stuff, as well as helping to choose submissions for publication and help edit the mag. Currently working on issue 49, with a very special 50 Chicago issue coming out later in the year! I'll update with news on this publication and my work there!

L. Stacks

1 comment:

Adam Morgan said...

Maybe I can write nonfic after all...

Congrats again on ACM!