Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Creative Non-Fiction: New Journalism

journalism, old, retro, type, typing

I started my creative non-fiction class. We have one week to learn what some learn in 12 weeks. We started learning the basics of the craft of journalism...then we unlearned them in order to learn how to write New Journalism (creative non-fiction). I cannot tell you how behind I feel. I have not read any of the works we have been looking into as examples. Hunter S. Thompson, Jack Kerouac, Tom Wolfe, William Burroughs...the beat authors who are now known as New Journalists. My task now is to construct a scene in the style of a New Journalist. Here are the elements that make up the craft:

1. Go into the story sideways. Do not use a traditional lead.
2. Use language picked up or made up that is different. (Jargon of a group, not a mainstream group, a deviant group).
3. Keep going back to the distinctive moment or theme.
4. Explain how something works.
5. Put yourself into the piece. (We, I, the observer)
6. Use dialogue as it is spoken. Do not clean it up.
7. Present a pageant of people. Use minor characters to tell parts of the story and give them names.
8. Talk to the reader directly: You see...
9. Show the reader something: the scene
10. Say what people think or thought.
11. Change the point of view: use different POVs (she saw...he saw).
12. Play with punctuation.
13. Tell what can be known and what cannot.
14. Experiment by reading the latest fiction/non-fiction writers and incorporate their approaches.

I got all of this in class today. Now, my task will be to come up with a scene that builds into conflict and resolution so that I can present it to the class tomorrow afternoon. Many of the New Journalists write in a stream-of-consciousness style. Others tend to jump back and forth between characters and scenes within scenes. The main aspect that is important with these authors is this: the things they wrote actually happened. They incorporate facts into their works while still writing the piece as though it were any other novel or story. The techniques are phenomenal.

What do you think about this type of journalism?

(C) Emily D. Wood
Photo via Favim


  1. That sounds really interesting. While I was reading over the objectives, I couldn't help but think of these crime shows on Investigation Discovery. They do those things a lot when unraveling a true story. Perhaps a who-done-it scenario from the killer's perspective would be interesting, only the readers wouldn't know that he/she was the killer until the end. The possibilities are endless! I know whatever you come up with will be great! You got this. ;)

    1. Thanks, Vanessa! I didn't really think about it from that angle. That is very true. The whole idea is very exciting.