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To Tell the Truth: Practice and Craft in Narrative Nonfiction

To Tell the Truth: Practice and Craft in Narrative Nonfiction

 This text engages with current conversations in the popular field of creative nonfiction, which ranges across memoir and biography, the essay, and literary journalism.  Designed to meet the growing need resulting from a burgeoning interest in

Rating: (out of 6 reviews)

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5 Responses to “To Tell the Truth: Practice and Craft in Narrative Nonfiction”

  1. Jeannette LeSure says:

    Review by Jeannette LeSure for To Tell the Truth: Practice and Craft in Narrative Nonfiction
    I collect books on writing by writers–I need them–and in Connie Griffin’s book, “TO TELL THE TRUTH: Practice & Craft in Narrative Nonfiction,” I’ve found yet another favorite. Frankly, this should be a textbook used for every course in writing nonfiction. From the outset, through her own powerful voice and through the often startlingly eloquent voices of the writers she has included, Griffin hits every fear, every imagined and real hurdle we encounter — whether we’re seasoned writers or fledglings. Then she offers us a way over or through them. Griffin blends the three necessities to engage and teach: practical, detailed advice from successful writers coupled with outstanding “practice strategies” exercises; examples of every form that are just, plain, superb; and finally (this is important and all too rare) organization that lets you find what you want immediately, through the index OR the table of contents. It sits by my computer, with “A Room of One’s Own,” “Journal of a Solitude,” and “Writing Down the Bones.” These books give me hope when I’m stuck, and the knowledge that my struggles are neither unique nor unconquerable. To me, Griffin’s book is a must have for any nonfiction writer, perhaps especially for those of us who have not yet published our work.

  2. James E. Van Buskirk says:

    Review by James E. Van Buskirk for To Tell the Truth: Practice and Craft in Narrative Nonfiction
    This book offers a wealth of ideas and inspiration for the aspiring memoirist (I consider myself one!) The explanations of what to look for in the well-chosen excerpts and the suggested exercises makes this a volume to keep handy on the shelves.

  3. Erika S. Dejong says:

    Review by Erika S. Dejong for To Tell the Truth: Practice and Craft in Narrative Nonfiction
    Let me start by saying this book is a must for anyone who wants to write creative nonfiction. Like many aspiring writers of nonfiction, I have collected “how to write” books in abundance, pulling a little something from each that inspires and encourages me. When I read Griffin’s book “To Tell the Truth,” I spent hours in it before hitting the keyboard, lost in the wonderful prose she employs to instruct. Learning becomes almost entirely organic. This book is at once masterfully and beautifully written, weighted in practical techniques and penned in the exact craft she is teaching— creative nonfiction.

    The organization of the writing process– from early scribblings, working with memory, developing a narrative persona, portraying the people in our stories in all their quirks and truths, working with scenes, themes, situations, and finally that thing called storytelling, draft and draft– comes to life in the progression of the chapters, start to finish. The exercises in each chapter were fresh and imaginative, asking that we stretch ourselves and our creative ideas to accomplish each chapter’s lesson.

    Another nice aspect of this book is the anthology. These pieces appear at the end of each chapter as opposed to the end of the book. Not only do we get to read Writers on Writing, but we also get to read creative nonfiction pieces that are powerful, lovely, colorful, emotional, and funny, which all exemplify the lesson of the chapter in which they appear!! It was as if Griffin was leading a workshop on the “chapter of the week,” helping us learn the skills of writing, and then handed us a short, creative piece to read, and said, “See? This is what this chapter is about. Do you see that it is in this kitchen, around that table, over the plastic fruit in a bowl between the father and his grown son, where everything important was ever discussed? Where their differences were spread out in front of them and their voices rose and fell? Where we come to know in two or three paragraphs a lifetime of these two men?”

    I return to this book and its chapters for encouragement as I work with my own writing. I would recommend this book both to the individual writer and to those who need a book from which they can finally teach an entire course. What I would have given to have had this book in one of my college writing classes. Again, a must read. Can’t wait to see what she does next.

  4. Allan G. Hunter says:

    Review by Allan G. Hunter for To Tell the Truth: Practice and Craft in Narrative Nonfiction
    Writing memoir is often a difficult process as one has to wrestle with all sorts of challenges around what one remembers, how well one remembers it, how one can reconstruct what might have been going on that one didn’t recognize at the time, and with how one can find the deep wisdom that resides in one’s life. Connie Griffin presents us with a clear, precise, and user-friendly manual that will make such obstacles melt away. Packed full of good practical advice, and also containing many short essays written by the very finest writers of our time, she is at the same time a comforting coach and a stimulating guide. Where other writers have been overly directive or hopelessly vague, Connie Griffin can draw upon years of actual classroom experience working with memoir writers, and the fruits of her labors are here.

    I feel I can assert all this because I too teach Memoir writing, and I am very grateful for Connie Griffin’s book.


  5. Ellen L. Gallagher says:

    Review by Ellen L. Gallagher for To Tell the Truth: Practice and Craft in Narrative Nonfiction
    Having had the privilege of being in a creative writing class taught by Connie Griffin, I may say that her book follows her method of teaching in a gentle, yet powerful way.

    Ellen Gallagher

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