All of us encounter dramas in life that seem tailor-made for narrative. But when sitting down to pen such seeming “ready-mades,” we often find that they don’t come to life, drag, or simply seem to lose their once-brilliant shine when committed to paper. So, we ask, how do writers such as Bill Bryson, Jon Krakauer, and Sebastian Junger write such engaging narratives? Or Tobias Wolff, Mary Karr, and Jeannette Walls? This class will examine a variety of nonfiction forms, from the memoir to the specific-subject yarn drawn from a decades old once-hot news item. We’ll discuss the two major necessities of writing nonfiction, compression and conflation, and how to use both with integrity and confidence, along with a host of powerful techniques drawn from fiction. Participants will write and share with the class a variety of exercises that develop core craft for the nonfiction narrative. By the end of the class, all members will see the world of story in a fresh and inviting way, and that the story is in the telling.
Wayne Johnson (M.F.A., Iowa Writer’s Workshop) is the author of nine books: five novels, a collection of stories, a memoir, and two nonfiction works. Three of his books have been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, two have been New York Times Notable Books of the Year, one a selection of the Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers Series and finalist for Book of the Year, and another a Kansas City Star Book of the Year. His awards include a Stegner Fellowship from Stanford, a Yaddo residency, and a Chesterfield Writers’ Film Project Fellowship. Wayne has worked in Hollywood, where two of his screenplays were optioned. Two of his most recent screenplays were selected as Sundance Best Picture finalists. Wayne has new books forthcoming and in development. Visit him online at www.waynejohnsonauthor.com.