Book review: ‘The Art of Creative Nonfiction’ by Lee Gutkind

Writing and selling the literature of reality.

‘The Art of Creative Nonfiction’ by Lee Gutkind

I bought this book by accident, somehow mistaking it for a book on my wishlist, ‘Writing to Learn’ by William Zinsser. I’m not quite sure how I managed this. I must have been having a major senior moment.

The book itself is fine. Lee Gutkind provides some useful writing advice for creative nonfiction authors. He places a lot of emphasis on developing ‘scenes’. This sounds like excellent advice for more journalistic writers like himself, and I’m sure it can be applied to other forms of factual writing, but I wasn’t entirely convinced.

Gutkind illustrates the points he makes with often lengthy extracts, mostly from his own books. These weren’t all that helpful, and felt more like filler. But, as I say, there is some useful writing advice buried in there, especially concerning some of the more practical issues of writing professionally regarding agents, submitting articles, etc. I was also pleased to see Gutkind make it clear it’s OK for creative nonfiction writers to be subjective, while being adamant that:

nonfiction differs from fiction because it is necessarily and scrupulously accurate and the presentation of information, a teaching element to readers, is paramount.

Amen to that!

Note: I will receive a small referral fee if you buy this book via one of the above links.

Richard Carter

Richard Carter is a writer and photo­grapher living in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. Website · Facebook · Twitter · Newsletter · Book

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