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Keep It Real: Everything You Need to Know About Researching and Writing Creative Nonfiction Paperback – Jan 27 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 167 pages
  • Publisher: W.W. Norton (2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393330982
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393330984
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.5 x 20.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 259 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #439,505 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

Lee Gutkind is the founder and editor of the literary journal Creative Nonfiction and a pioneer in the field of narrative nonfiction. Gutkind is also the editor of In Fact and Becoming a Doctor, the author of Almost Human, and has written books about baseball, health care, travel, and technology. A Distinguished Writer in Residence at Arizona State University, he lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Tempe, Arizona.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 18 reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Highly recommended for anyone who wants to dive into this field. May 3 2008
By Midwest Book Review - Published on
Format: Hardcover
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.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Great advice for aspiring creative nonfiction writers March 27 2008
By Elizabeth Modarelli - Published on
Format: Hardcover
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.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Nuts & Bolts of Creative Nonfiction April 3 2009
By Nancy A. Jackson - Published on
Format: Paperback
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.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
My Recommendation June 26 2012
By StarJesus - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I strongly recommend "Keep It Real", an anthology of essays by various experts on how to write Creative Nonfiction. The book details every conceivable writing tool needed for the writer of this nouveau literary genre. Lee Gutkind, the editor, is the purported grandfather of Creative Nonfiction.

Originally, I adjudged Creative Nonfiction as an embellishment--inserting fictional facts with flamboyant color into an otherwise true story to round out its rough edges and instill it with vivid life. I viewed this strange new genre as a stretching of truth into virtual fiction.

"Keep It Real" set me straight. Its integrity as nonfiction remains intact. This new genre awakens the dry experience of Journalism, as depicted by publications like the "The New York Times", by inserting emotion and color into lifeless facts. It maintains accurate prose about real people and events, while painting dry facts with drama and imagination. The nonfiction writer, as a factual reporter, enters inside the mind of the protagonist, not through fictional embellishment or psychic guesswork, but through true depictions of that person's actions, expressions, and words. Likewise, the writer can be an interactive character in the story with the license to express his own personal thoughts, feelings, and perceptions through a depiction of his own behavior and reactions. The story reads like lively fiction, but tells the truth.

My memoir-in-progress, which I had initially labeled Nonfiction Narrative, is really Creative Nonfiction.

A potpourri of essayists, each allocated their own chapter in "Keep It Real", covers the elements of composite characters, quote compression and restatement, frames, characterization, immersion into another's point of view, fact-checking, libelous issues, and etc., including etc. about etc.

"Keep It Real", though not creative nonfiction itself, reads quickly, colorfully, and entertainingly, while remaining highly educational. Only 160 pages, the soft paper and font size are an easy read for the impatient author, like me, eager to learn the genre's craft quickly.

Read it, and get published someday.