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.
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Jack Hart is a former managing editor and writing coach at the Oregonian. He received the first National Teaching Award from the American Society of Newspaper Editors and a University of Wisconsin Distinguished Service Award for his contributions to journalism, has taught on the faculties of six universities, and was named the Ruhl Distinguished Professor at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. He is the author of A Writer’s Coach.Review:
"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.”
(Susan Orlean 2010-12-16)
“For narrative nerds interested in learning about how stories work to move people—or fall flat—this is a must-read to revisit every six months.” (Vox)
“Jack Hart was hands-down the best narrative editor ever to work in newspapers.”
(Jon Franklin, author of Writing for Story and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner 2010-10-29)
“When I think back on what I have learned about storytelling over the last 30 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 2010-10-28)
“I’d tell you that I am the best writing coach there is—if I didn’t know Jack Hart.”
(Bruce DeSilva, former Associated Press writing coach, author of Rogue Island 2010-10-29)
“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.”
(Norman Sims, University of Massachusetts Amherst)
“The importance of understanding and utilizing established methods of narrative writing is emphasized throughout the book (structure, point of view, voice and style, setting, scene construction, interviewing), but Storycraft transcends typical writers guides through Hart's insights to what story is and how human nature determines the fundamentals of any well-written story. Rather than confine his scope to how to write well, Hart makes a case for why one should write well.” (Oregonian)
“Hart's new book is quite remarkable. . . . It's the story of how to succeed. . . . How to make your mind observe, how to put your observations into words, how to turn reporting into vision and words into power. . . . Read it. It speaks for itself.” (Jon Franklin)
“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
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