In anticipation of our “Day of Creative Nonfiction” in-person event to be held on Saturday, January 25th, we sat down with instructor Laurie Scheer to learn a little bit more about this exciting-and popular-genre.
So why is the genre of Creative Nonfiction so popular these days?
It seems that society as a whole has turned into a “me generation” – not like the “me generation” of the ‘80s, however, the “me generation” of Reality Television and social media. In other words, we all like to talk about ourselves. We all like to post information about our lives via social media and we all like to watch reality shows that feature “real” people doing extraordinary and ordinary things. The key to writing creative nonfiction is to emphasize “you”. This “you” is the one that likes to express themselves and this genre offers that platform. In other words, there are hundreds of thousands of writers who have written about topics such as travel, politics, racism, elements about the environment, etc. What makes writing in the creative nonfiction genre popular is that the writer writes from the point of view of “you” – what is it about “you” and your thoughts about the environment or travel to a particular place? Without the “you”, the nonfiction writing is journalism.
And the answer to the question is that we are a society that likes to talk about ourselves from our point of view and writing in the creative nonfiction genre allows us to do so.
Are writers/authors of Creative Nonfiction popular?
Here are some mega authors in this genre: Lee Gutkind, Annie Dillard, Susan Orlean, Malcolm Gladwell, David Sedaris, etc. In my course I turn the spotlight on John Krakauer and his brilliant writing as an expert in mountaineering, environment, and outside-related topics. I am also going to feature a discussion regarding Wisconsin author Michael Perry and creative nonfiction writer Roy Hoffman. Both Perry and Hoffman will be presenting at our 25th annual Writers’ Institute conference in April. I think it is important that we study their writing and then we will have an opportunity to attend their sessions including Perry’s keynote presentation on Saturday of the conference.
If we add the success of memoir writers such as last year’s Writers’ Institute favorite Tanya Chernov writer of “A Real Emotional Girl” and Cheryl Strayed and her wildly (no pun intended) successful title Wild, there is no doubt that writers within the creative nonfiction genre are popular.
Is your “Day of Creative Nonfiction” for all levels of writers?
Yes! If you are aspiring, emerging or established there will be something for each level of writer in my session. If you only have ideas and haven’t executed them as of yet, then the discussion will hopefully inspire you. If you have had some success publishing your creative nonfiction writing and want to learn about more opportunities about how to get your work out there, then this discussion is for you. And finally, if you are an established writer, then you’ll be re-inspired through our discussion or perhaps find a new slant from which to tell your stories, write your writings.
In regard to the second half of the day, the writing of a book proposal is also important. The book proposal is the essential tool that every creative nonfiction writer needs to market their work to potential buyers. The best part of writing creative nonfiction is that you do not have to have your entire book written-just your book proposal (this is not true of memoirs, however). I also believe that this session is beneficial for all creative nonfiction writers because it will illustrate how your book will fit into the marketplace and that can only help you in crafting the best book possible.
So, yes, there is something for everyone during this “Day of Creative Nonfiction” event.
What is your personal experience with writing in this genre or composing a book proposal?
My two books feature topics that are told from my point of view. My first book, Creative Careers in Hollywood took a look at all of the movies that feature jobs in the entertainment industry. While discussing those jobs, I interjected my experience of working in Hollywood. My latest book The Writer’s Advantage: A Toolkit for Mastering Your Genre assists the writer in knowing how to research and master their genre so they are armed with information to write authentic texts.
In both cases, not only is my point of view a big part of the books, however, my book proposals sold both books. My original book proposal for my latest book was adequate when I first began to submit it to agents and publishers, however, I learned so much through the rejection process of the book proposal that the book is actually a better book as a result. I am planning on sharing these book proposal examples during the “Day of Creative Nonfiction” sessions.
Any brief advice for Creative Nonfiction writers?
Know your slant, know the point of view that you will be telling your story from. Completely embrace the “you” in your writing. This is what separates you from all of the other Creative Nonfiction writers, this is what makes you authentic and genuine as a writer.
Join Laurie on Saturday January 25th, 2014 for one or both of these sessions during the “Day of Creative Nonfiction” event – here is a link to more information about the day and how to Register.