I wrote a nonfiction piece recently that blended elements of essay with elements of narrative nonfiction. I took it to my writing group for their critique and one person expressed concern that my piece was blending two genres that shouldn’t be blended.
I thought his comment was interesting, considering he’d only read three of my five pages and didn’t know how the piece ended. In his mind, essays were one type of beast and narrative nonfiction another. In a way, he’s right. They’re both nonfiction but with different intents and purposes.
Writers have been blending genres for years and are still coming up with new combinations. When is it okay to try something new, to blend elements together that aren’t normally seen together? The answer is—when it works. As you mature as a writer, you’ll know when it works and when it doesn’t. In the meantime, get feedback from others. Read more
As I write this, I have an earworm. Sounds gruesome, but it’s not too bad. An earworm is when you get a song stuck in your head. You just hope it’s not, “It’s a Small World,” the song that plays on the ride of the same name at Disneyland.
But back to my earworm. I have “Boom Boom Pow” by the Black Eyed Peas stuck in my ear from my Zumba class this morning. And while I don’t normally listen to music when I write, I wondered as I was doing Zumba if I could carry the rhythm of the songs into my writing.
Storytelling can be symphonic, says Jack Hart, a contributor to, “Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers’ Guide,” and author of Storycraft: The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Nonfiction. John Steinbeck has said he wanted “The Grapes of Wrath” to sound like Igor Stravinksy’s, “Firebird Suite.” And Ernest Hemingway channeled Bach. If you read the first chapter of “Farewell to Arms” aloud to the first movement of the “Brandenburg Concerto,” the words seem to match the music, Hart says. Read more