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Write Choices

Write Choices
Elements of Nonfiction Storytelling

  • Sue Hertz - University of New Hampshire, USA

March 2015 | 256 pages | CQ Press

Developing narrative nonfiction writers at any stage of their career


Write Choices: Elements of Nonfiction Storytelling helps writers cultivate their nonfiction storytelling skills by exploring the universal decisions writers confront when crafting factual narratives. Rather than isolating various forms of narrative nonfiction into categories or genres, Sue Hertz focuses on examining the common choices all true storytellers encounter, whether they are writing memoir, literary journalism, personal essays, or travel stories. Write Choices also includes digital storytelling. No longer confined to paper, today's narrative nonfiction writers must learn to write for electronic media, which may also demand photos, videos, and/or audio. Integrating not only her own insights and experience as a journalist, nonfiction book author, and writing instructor, but also those of other established nonfiction storytellers, both print and digital, Hertz aims to guide emerging writers through key decisions to tell the best story possible. Blending how-to instruction with illuminating examples and commentaries drawn from original interviews with master storytellers, Write Choices is a valuable resource for all nonfiction writers, from memoirists to essayists to literary journalists, at any stage of their career.

Chapter 1: What’s the Big Idea?
Where Lurk Subjects?

What's the question?

Chapter 2: What’s the Form?
Internal narratives

External narratives

Internal and external narratives

Short essay? Kindle Single? Full-fledged book?

Chapter 3: What’s the Content?
What do you know?

What do you need to know?

Where do you find content?

Chapter 4: What’s the Focus?
How do you find focus?

Where do you find focus?

When do you find focus?

Chapter 5: What’s Structure?
How do you find the structure?

What are some structure options?

Chapter 6: What are the Components?
What’s the opening?

What point of view will guide the story?

Who are the characters?

What is the setting?

Dialogue or direct quotes?

What is the ending?

Chapter 7: Pulling it all Together
What we talk about when we talk about a first draft?

What we talk about when we talk about revising


This is a very good step by step approach to writing creative non-fiction. This year I will be trialing the book with a view to adopting it as an essential text.

Ms Heidi Colthup
Department of English & Language Studi, Canterbury Christ Church University
June 27, 2016
Key features


  •  A wealth of pedagogical resources encourage and instruct nonfiction writers at any stage of their career
  • Blasts the boundaries separating the various forms of narrative nonfiction, addressing universal choices all writers of true tales face
  • Challenging Choices boxes in each chapter highlight how writers have decided to proceed at a particularly difficult juncture in their writing process such as developing a character or revising a draft
  • Web Choices sections in each chapter detail the decisions involved in creating additional multimedia to complement prose narratives
  • Try This writing exercises throughout the text provide opportunities for  readers to apply and explore writing strategies presented in each chapter
  • Content gleaned from interviews with over 60 nonfiction storytellers, both print and digital, exposes readers to established writers and editors representing all nonfiction styles of writing
  • An emphasis on rich content and how to collect it celebrates external content, even in memoir and personal essay, and offers the reader simple approaches to collecting content from people, institutions, and the Web

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