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Keep It Real [Paperback]

Lee Gutkind

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Book Description

Jan. 27 2009
Writers of memoir and narrative nonfiction are experiencing difficult days with the discovery that some well-known works in the genre contain exaggerations--or are partially fabricated. But what are the parameters of creative nonfiction? Keep It Real begins by defining creative nonfiction. Then it explores the flexibility of the form--the liberties and the boundaries that allow writers to be as truthful, factual, and artful as possible. A succinct but rich compendium of ideas, terms, and techniques, Keep It Real clarifies the ins and outs of writing creative nonfiction. Starting with acknowledgment of sources, running through fact-checking, metaphor, and navel gazing, and responsibilities to their subjects, this book provides all the information you need to write with verve while remaining true to your story.

Frequently Bought Together

Keep It Real + You Can't Make This Stuff Up: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction - from Memoir to Literary Journalism and Everything in Between + The Art of Creative Nonfiction: Writing and Selling the Literature of Reality
Price For All Three: CDN$ 39.10

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: WW Norton; Reprint edition (Jan. 27 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393330982
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393330984
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 0.1 x 2.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 259 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #298,344 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended for anyone who wants to dive into this field. May 3 2008
By Midwest Book Review - Published on
Who says that non-fiction has to be just the facts and nothing else? "Keep It Real: Everything You Need to Know About Researching and Writing Creative Nonfiction" is a guide for writers who are set to write nonfiction but want to do it with some flare, by taking the concepts of fiction - scene, dialogue, metaphor, suspense, and applies them to reality, as a way of telling the truth in the way it happened. Explaining the genre as a whole, sifting through facts to find the best story, points of view, libel fears, immersion, and so many more concepts are covered, making "Keep It Real: Everything You Need to Know About Researching and Writing Creative Nonfiction" highly recommended for anyone who wants to dive into this field.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great advice for aspiring creative nonfiction writers March 27 2008
By Elizabeth Modarelli - Published on
I had read some articles by Gutkind in his journal Creative Nonfiction and was excited to see a book that included some of the most valuable selections from previous issues of the journal. As a writer new to this field, I found the chapters extremely helpful and have already been able to apply some of the concepts (mostly concerning research) to my own writing. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is just getting his or her feet wet with this genre, and I think it would also be beneficial as a refresher for those who have been working with this type of writing for some time.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nuts & Bolts of Creative Nonfiction April 3 2009
By Nancy A. Jackson - Published on
This is a book I'm keeping for reference. It's definitely a must for those interested in pursuing creative nonfiction as a writing genre. You'll find interesting material on plagiarism, interviewing technique, and POV. The piece on David Sedaris and the family repercussions of his memoirist writings was fascinating -- and a good lesson for everyone who intends to venture into family-and-friends memoirs. As I said, I'll keep this as a reference, but it's also a very interesting read on its own.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good set of tools March 2 2011
By D. Delgardo - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Okay, so I'm not a writer. I don't even play one on TV. I'd LIKE to be a writer, but beyond a few stories, I'd like to tell, I possess no formalized tools (read: haven't taken any creative writing classes AND probably didn't pay enough attention in English 101 - much to my regret) to get those stories out.

That's why I liked "Keep it Real." Mr. Gutkind and his team of contributors have assembled several constructive articles regarding necessities for "Creative Nonfiction." Much of what they share moves beyond the Creative Nonfiction genre and can inform the work of the fiction writer.

While the order of the brief articles seemed random (they're alphabetical, dummy!) I frequently found myself underlining passages to which I would want to refer as I worked through future projects. Within a couple of days, I was back in the book, rereading an underscored passage or two.

As I rewrite something that was "perfect" before, as I mold a journal entry into a memoir piece, heck, even as I take notes for a possible idea, many of the tenets of "Keep it Real" guide my efforts and help make my efforts more succinct and efficient. I have license now to be more critical of my work:

"Take a highlighter and yellow in the scenes. If half your essay, more or less, is not glaring and blaring back at you in yellow (I use green), that's a red flag, a warning that your essay may not be infused with enough narrative to compel a reader onward." (page 141) That one piece of advice is more than worth the price of admission for me.

Perhaps this is not the volume for a student in an MFA program or for someone who is studying writing in a formal program. But for someone with a story to tell who is looking for tips and coaching about how to tell it, this book deserves an easily accessible place on the shelf. You'll be referring to it often.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit general March 10 2013
By N. Lantz - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The topics covered in this book are definitely important for anyone who wants to start writing creative nonfiction, but I found the treatment of each topic to be too brief and general. It's not a long book, or an expensive one, and I suppose you get what you pay for, but I wished the chapters where much more in-depth.

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