Thursday, November 10, 2016

SFRB Recommends 64: Writing for Story by Jon Franklin #craft #writing

The new "nonfiction"—the adaptation of storytelling techniques to journalistic articles in the manner of Truman Capote, Tom Wolfe, and John McPhee—is an innovative genre that has been awarded virtually every Pulitzer Prize for literary journalism since 1979. And now Jon Franklin, himself a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and undisputed master of the great American nonfiction short story, shares the secrets of his success. Franklin shows how to make factual pieces come alive by applying the literary techniques of complication/resolution, flashback, foreshadowing, and pace. He illustrates his points with a close analysis and annotation of two of his most acclaimed stories, so that the reader can see, step-by-step, just how they were created.

Franklin can be a bit pedantic and some of his references and phrases may be dated, but this book is an excellent guide to story structure, despite centering on nonfiction. Readers will learn a very concise way to outline (twenty-one words for your whole novel). Although the advice is prescriptive, it can work for a story you're trying to revise as well: figuring out how to revise and restructure a story that you wrote by the seat of your pants can help a lot.
While the macro focus of the book is on act structure, Franklin also has some useful things to say about how to vary pacing within a scene by using different kinds of narrative.

Recommendation by Lee Koven.

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