Tag Archives: narrative nonfiction

Write This Way, Condensed: Top Writing and Editing Links for November 12, 2012

Photo courtesy of SXC.

A Professional Editor Takes on Self-Editing | The Book Designer

Book editor Linda Jay Geldens provides indie novelists (and other writers pursuing options beyond traditional print book publishing) with a compelling argument for finding a way to have a professional editor supplement their own self-editing of their manuscript. She does a wonderful job of outlining why self-editing by the writer can only be partially successful:

Now, self-editing is fine. Going through your manuscript’s rough drafts several times over a period of weeks searching for errors and omissions, perhaps even reading the text aloud to catch awkward phrasing or redundancies or overcomplicated construction, is certainly not going to hurt—and possibly might even improve—your writing. But let’s face it, there’s only so much self-editing an author can do. Frankly, you as the author are too close to the subject matter to be objective, even if you take a break from the material and come back to it later.

“The Power of Storytelling,” Part 2: Jacqui Banaszynski on the future of stories and Evan Ratliff on digital entrepreneurship

A long, wonderful compilation of two presentations from the Power of Storytelling conference that occurred in Bucharest, Romania, last month. Banaszynski is one of my editing role models, and her presentation on what will happen to narrative in the future is amazing and eloquent.

Here’s just a brief sample, in which she is talking about the continuity of storytelling from the preshistoric past until the present day:

I see the connection between that history in the past and what I do now. The troubadours, the scribes, the people who carried fire from camp to camp in Indian tradition because they carried the stories along with it. I also now see that future, that need to recognize that stories are as eternal and essential as humanity itself. We too often in our anxiety confuse the means of delivery with the essence of what we deliver. Sure, how we tell our stories matters. And we must master as many ways of telling stories as there are stories to tell. But the center that will hold is the story itself. Stories will survive and be needed as long as human beings survive.

Ratliff tells conference-goers about his journey into entrepreneurship when he launched The Atavist, which publishes narrative nonfiction that is sold on Kindles and Nooks as e-books, as well as in apps on iPads. He reflects on the success of his business, which took him in some ways far from where he expected to be as a nonfiction writer:

So, lawyers, accountants, investors. That’s the way I spend most of my time now. It was very difficult for me because here I am, fancying myself a writer, and trying to make it in the world of narrative journalism, and suddenly I’m doing all these things I became a writer not to do.

I think the lesson here is one that I’m still grappling with. I think that sometimes you just have to get over yourself, and sometimes you just have to survive. And this is what we had to do to survive. We had to do things that we were not ready to do and I think that is true for a lot of journalists who want to strike out as freelancers, who want to write things that are different from what your editors want you to write, and you want to go out in the world and find new magazines and find new homes.

24 More Fabulous Tips For Writers, From Writers | Daring to Live Fully

Marelisa Fabrega shares two dozen quotes from writers that address how to write fiction, although there are plenty of tips among them that can easily apply to nonfiction writing, as well. Authors quoted include Issac Asimov, Anne Lamott, William Saroyan, and Joyce Carole Oats.

6 Tips For Getting Gigs as a Freelance Journalist | Poynter

Beth Winegarner provides practical advice and support for new freelance writer. I especially like her emphasis on how networking aids freelancers looking for work:

Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, connecting with fellow freelancers has never been easier. Knowing who’s writing, and who they’re writing for, gives you a good sense of which publications are open to taking freelance work. Get to know other freelancers on social networks and, once you’ve built a rapport with them, ask them to introduce you to their editors. While cold-pitching works, your success rate will be much greater with a personal introduction.

The article also has a replay of a Poynter-sponsored web chat with Winegarner on this topic embedded with it, which is a nice plus.

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Write This Way: Top Writing and Editing Links for September 6, 2011

Photo courtesy SXC.

Memoir’s truthy obligations: a handy how-to guide | Nieman Storyboard

English Professor Ben Yagoda and Dan DeLorenzo, a journalist, address the sticky question of accuracy in memoir writing and offer a rating system for “truthiness” and charts evaluating the honesty and readability of a number of modern and classic memoirs – everyone from St. Augustine to the reviled James Frey’s “A Million Little Pieces.”

Quote and Comment | Realities and appearances, arguments and facts: Scheme for better political news.

Jay Rosen of NYU provides a handy way for reporters to sort out political news and commentary. Starting with honest-to-goodness facts and ending with phony arguments, the chart cuts through invective and is a superb head-clearer for anyone involved in covering politics.

Brainstorming strategies to combat writer’s block | PR Daily

A guest post from Mark Nichol of DailyWritingTips blog, which provides several great time-tested ways to get started or moving on writing assignments, including cubing, freewriting, listing and mapping.

Podcast Interview — Latest changes to the Associated Press Stylebook | Copyediting Blog

Grant Barrett, contributing editor for Copyediting blog (and newsletter) had a conversation with Associated Press contributing editor Darrell Christian about all the changes to the 2011 AP Stylebook. Here’s your chance to catch up on the finer points of style without getting your hands dirty!

Secrets to a Successful Fake Twitter Character | Fast Company

Adam Penenberg interviews the anonymous satirists behind @TheBillWalton, @FakeAPStylebook, and @NotBurtReynolds to find out how they have managed to garner a quarter-million followers between the three accounts.

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Write This Way: Writing and Editing Links for January 12, 2009


Photo courtesy SXC.

It’s a new year, and time for our first 2009 installment of the writing-related hyperlink-love-fest we feature at least once a month on this blog.

1. Everyone still seems to be taking stock of the old year and setting goals for 2009. One inventive way to sum up 2008 if you’re a blogger, is to create a parataxis entry, which fuses a number of disparate, seeming unrelated fragments to create meaning. Michael Eddy, over at Orange Crate Art blog, used this technique on Jan. 1 by including the first sentence of the first post of the month for every month of 2008 on his blog. Here’s an excerpt:

“Small calendars for the new year, well designed and free. Alas, it’s a parking area that’s reserved. Victoria’s Secret likes to ask in its marketing, ‘What is sexy?’ Whoso would be a G-Man must be a pencil user, as Emerson might have put it.”

And so on. Musician and blogger Elaine Fine also jumped on the parataxis bandwagon, with somewhat different results:

“Daniel Wolf has put together a nifty Winter Album of twelve (and maybe more) piano pieces that incorporate a great range of compositional techniques. Scott Spiegelberg found this wonderful clip that is sure to make you smile. My grandmother kept magazines like this April 30, 1945 Life magazine on her coffee table. Thanks to Anne for this! And music criticism of unusual quality.”

I think parataxis is an interesting technique to experiment with—it can be fun to see if you find a thread of narrative in your varied posts if you blog, or it could be interesting to use the first-sentence/first-entry-of-the-month theme with a writer’s notebook, a poetry journal, or other analog writing tools.

2. Will Web 2.0 tools make us better memoirists or storytellers? That is the intriguing proposition of Kathy Hansen at A Storied Career blog, who asserts that 2008 was the year of the personal narrative, and that “lifestreaming” is the key to understanding why social networking tools will facilitate personal narrative nonfiction.

Lifestreaming, she explains, is the aggregation of personal content (status updates, blog or news item postings, photos, videos, etc.) across a number of services. FriendFeed and Plaxo Pulse are two examples of services that help users follow all their friends’ activities, from their status updates on Twitter or Facebook to their bookmarks on del.icio.us.

As Hansen tells it,

“Lifestreaming is unquestionably a form of personal narrative. It doesn’t provide a complete picture of one’s personal narrative; often the beholder is left to try to fill in the blanks, connect the dots, and assemble puzzle pieces. But in many ways, this lack of comprehensiveness is part of the charm. The little bits of information and media serve almost as story prompts that enable the reader to construct his or her own story about the lifestreaming person. And you can always ask the lifestreamer to fill in details or explain cryptic status postings.”

This assertion is one I’ve pondered privately for a few months now, and I tend to agree. As I determine what to post on my Facebook page, blogs and other places, I definitely think through my audience, how vulnerable I’m willing to be on the page (or screen) and how the items will reflect my experiences when I (or someone else) review them later. I believe that this tension between social media users’ desire to connect and share, and very real privacy and security concerns, will influence personal narrative development (or maybe it should be called “personal broadcasting”?) in the years to come.

3. If you are a mom with a book idea, take a minute to read an interview on Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen’s Quips and Tips for Freelance Writers blog with Iris Waichler, MSW, a member of the Wyatt-MacKenzie Writer’s Co-operative. This innovative publishing group is comprised of 24 stay-at-home moms who had dreams of becoming published authors. Led by Nancy Cleary, the company has a special focus on publishing titles that relate to motherhood.

While Waichler acknowledges that being a member of a publishing co-operative has its drawbacks, the experience has mostly been positive:

“The team helped my book become a reality…My wonderful colleagues helped answer questions I had about a multitude of issues like book marketing, putting together a press release and sell sheet.

“We cheer each other on when something good happens like great publicity or a book award or successful author events.  We cheer each other up if things don’t go well and offer valuable advice about how to tackle writing, marketing, and book challenges.”

4. Finally, business communications expert Bert Decker recently posted his list of the Top 10 Best (and Worst) Communicators of 2008. For those who are interested in the public performance side of communication, Garr Reynolds of Presentation Zen (who made Decker’s “good” list) added a few names of his own in a separate posting.

Whether or not you agree with (or like) the people on Decker’s lists, they have definitely all made their marks in the media world, and the list of “good” communicators (which includes Barack Obama, the late Tim Russert, Colin Powell, Mike Huckabee, Tina Fey and businessman John Chambers) provides ample material for discussing what it takes to reach your audience in this media-clogged world.

(P.S. Decker put GOP vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin on both the “best” and “worst” communicator lists, which perhaps emphasizes the truism that very few people can communicate in every situation with equal effectiveness.)

Bonus Links

Line Number Your Writing
An incredibly practical tip for those who receive feedback on their works-in-progress from Marsha at Writing Companion blog.

The Six People You Meet in Freelance Internet Writing Hell
Adam Brown details the types of people you don’t want to spend eternity with online in this hilarious post on the Freelance Switch blog.

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