Name some books that have been huge bestsellers over the years -- In Cold Blood; All the President's Men; The Hot Zone; The Perfect Storm; Black Hawk Down; Longitude -- and you'll find they have one thing in common: They read like novels, but they are true stories. They fall into a category now called "narrative nonfiction" -- the novel of true events.
These books seize upon an untold or barely told incident and pry it apart. They search for a way to understand in the microcosm of the story more about the macrocosm of our world -- who we are and why we do the things we do, while at the same time giving us a riveting story.
In Telling the Story author and literary agent Peter Rubie, a former BBC Radio and Fleet Street journalist, provides guidance and practical advice on how best to meld careful journalistic research with narrative writing techniques. Filled with insights and interviews with authors, agents, and editors such as Mark Bowden, Jon Krakauer, Jonathan Galassi (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Peter Gethers (Random House), George Gibson (Walker & Co.), and Jack Hart (The Oregoinian), this is the essential guide to writing this hot new genre.
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A former Fleet Street, BBC and Independent Television News journalist, Peter Rubie's vast writing experience includes stints writing and editing for daily newspapers, published novels and numerous non-fiction books, including four books on writing and publishing. A respected agent and industry veteran, Peter heads the NYU Summer Pubilshing Institute Book Section and regularly lectures and teaches on publishing and writing at universities and colleges around the country. His books include The Writer's Market FAQs, How to Tell a Story, and The Elements of Storytelling.From Booklist:
Narrative nonfiction is the new name for what used to be called the nonfiction novel, but it has evolved a bit from Capote's In Cold Blood (1966), which was clearly structured like a novel, to any of a variety of nonfiction accounts that employ a storytelling style. In this helpful book, Rubie, a veteran literary agent, discusses the tricks of this relatively new trade. Writing a work of nonfiction that reads like a novel brings with it a host of new questions. Does dialogue have to be 100 percent accurate? How far can the author go in inventing the thoughts and motivations of his or her characters? How much "dramatic license" is too much? Rubie also addresses selling a work of narrative nonfiction: finding an agent, writing the book proposal, marketing the book. This is a fairly traditional how-to-be-a-writer book in that it discusses all the usual things--plot, character, dialogue, the mechanics of getting published--but it addresses them all through the special lens of narrative nonfiction. Fresh and definitely useful. David Pitt
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