You Can't Make This Stuff Up: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction - from Memoir to Literary Journalism and Everything in Between

  • ISBN13:


  • ISBN10:


  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 8/14/2012
  • Publisher: Perseus Books Group

Note: Supplemental materials are not guaranteed with Rental or Used book purchases.

Purchase Benefits

  • Free Shipping On Orders Over $59!
    Your order must be $59 or more to qualify for free economy shipping. Bulk sales, PO's, Marketplace items, eBooks and apparel do not qualify for this offer.
  • Get Rewarded for Ordering Your Textbooks! Enroll Now
  • We Buy This Book Back!
    In-Store Credit: $3.68
    Check/Direct Deposit: $3.50
List Price: $16.99 Save up to $5.95
  • Rent Book $11.04
    Add to Cart Free Shipping


Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

  • The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.
  • The Rental copy of this book is not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.


From rags-to-riches-to-rags tell-alls to personal health sagas to literary journalism everyone seems to want to try their hand at creative nonfiction. Now, Lee Gutkind, the go-to expert for all things creative nonfiction, taps into one of the fastest-growing genres with this new writing guide. Frank and to-the-point, with depth and clarity, Gutkind describes and illustrates each and every aspect of the genre, from defining a concept and establishing a writing process to the final product. Offering new ways of understanding genre and invaluable tools for writers to learn and experiment with, You Can't Make This Stuff Upallows writers of all skill levels to thoroughly expand and stylize their work.

Author Biography

Lee Gutkind, author and editor of nearly thirty books and founder and editor of Creative Nonfiction magazine, is the Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the Consortium for Science, Policy Outcomes at Arizona State University and a professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. Gutkind has lectured to audiences around the world and has appeared on many national television shows, including Good Morning America and The Daily Show.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Introduction: How to Read This Bookp. xv
What Is Creative Nonfiction?
The Birth of the Godfatherp. 3
The Definition Debatep. 5
What Is It-Or Isn't It?p. 6
Who Coined the Term "Creative Nonfiction"?p. 7
The Fastest-Growing Genrep. 9
Subgenresp. 10
Crossing Genresp. 11
Poetry Is (Often) Creative Nonfictionp. 11
Flexibility, Freedom, and the Larger Truthp. 12
Truth or…p. 14
Hall of Fame of Fakersp. 15
Truth and Factp. 18
Fact Checkingp. 20
Fact Checking Sedarisp. 21
Have I Totally D'Agata-ed This?p. 22
Credibility-and Correctnessp. 26
What About the BOTS?p. 27
Interesting Readingp. 29
Who Will Take Charge?p. 31
The Creative Nonfiction Policep. 32
The Objectivity Debatep. 33
Compositesp. 34
Compressionp. 35
Manufacturing Dialoguep. 36
Name Changingp. 37
Libel, Defamation-and Writing About the Deadp. 38
Interesting but Not So Amusing Fudgingp. 39
Share Your Work with Your Subjectsp. 40
Covering Yourselfp. 41
Final Thoughts About Ethical, Legal, and Moral Boundariesp. 41
Schedulesp. 44
Slave to Routinep. 45
Passion and Practicep. 47
The Rope Testp. 48
Fall Down Nine Times-Get Up Tenp. 51
A Final Word About Schedulesp. 54
The Creative Nonfiction Pendulum: From Personal to Publicp. 55
The Personal: That Kiss That Caused the Crazep. 55
The Memoir Crazep. 57
Between Memoir and Autobiographyp. 58
Don't Get Tangled in Terminologyp. 59
The Public or "Big Idea÷p. 61
The Universal Chord: When Personal and Public Come Togetherp. 62
Widening the Pendulum's Swingp. 65
The Creative Nonfiction Way of Lifep. 69
From Dream to Realityp. 71
Single-Subject Booksp. 72
Through Immersion, a Writer Can See the Story As It Happensp. 72
Futures or "Idea" Bookp. 76
Selecting Subjects to Write Aboutp. 78
Parachutingp. 79
What Immersion Is Really About: Peoplep. 80
More About Immersionp. 80
Literary Sports Notep. 81
The Bitter Better Endp. 82
The Tribulations of the Writer at Workp. 83
Anxietyp. 83
Should You Be Part of the Action?p. 85
Documenting the Immersionp. 86
Shirt Boards and Fancy Dudsp. 88
It's the Story, Stupidp. 89
Thomas and Linda and the Power of the Storyp. 90
The Story Behind the Storyp. 91
It's the Information, Stupid!p. 94
And Finally, a Gentle Reminderp. 96
The Writing and Revising and Writing and Revising Part: How to Do It
Introduction to Part IIp. 99
How to Readp. 100
Reading Over Your Reader's Shoulderp. 101
I Remember Mamap. 102
Reading with a Writer's Eyep. 104
The Building Blocksp. 105
The Yellow (Or Highlighting) Testp. 107
A Famous and Memorable Scenep. 109
To Highlight or Not to Highlight: That is the Questionp. 114
Something Always Happensp. 114
Endingsp. 119
Dialogue and Descriptionp. 122
Intimate Detailsp. 124
A Famous Intimate Detailp. 128
More Examples of Intimate or Specific Detailp. 129
An Important Note About Interviewingp. 130
Does Absence of the Writer Mean Absence of Detail-Or a Weakness in the Story?p. 131
Inner Point of Viewp. 135
The Creative Nonfiction Dancep. 138
Reminder: Writing Is Revisionp. 139
Now Let's Dancep. 140
"Difficult Decisions÷ by Lee Gutkindp. 140
Follow-up Commentaryp. 149
"Three Spheres÷ by Lauren Slaterp. 151
Highlighting "Three Spheres" and "Yellow Taxi"p. 167
"Yellow Taxi," by Eve Josephp. 169
Reflectionp. 183
Dealing with the Deadp. 185
Recreation or "Reconstruction"?p. 186
How Did It Happen?p. 200
The Shocking Truth About the New York Timesp. 201
The Narrative Line and the Hookp. 204
"Fixing Nemo"p. 206
Plunging the Reader into the Storyp. 215
Background Means What It Says: In the Backp. 215
The Story Determines the Research Information-The Facts-You Gather and Providep. 216
Framing: The Second Part of Structure (After Scenes)p. 218
As Part of the Frame, There's Something at Stakep. 220
Altering Chronologyp. 220
Parallel Narrativesp. 222
Don't Make Promises You Can't Keepp. 223
Main Point of Focusp. 226
Frame Reflects Focusp. 227
Stories (Scenes) Are Elasticp. 227
First Lede/Real Lead: A Creative Nonfiction Experiment Precipitated by Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgeraldp. 230
Clarity and Question Marksp. 232
The Drawer Phasep. 234
Remember That Writing Is Revisionp. 234
Now That I Know Everything I Ever Wanted to Know About Creative Nonfiction, What Happens Next?p. 236
MFA in the USAp. 236
Publish or Perishp. 241
Don't Worry, Be Happy-and Smartp. 242
A Final Word: Read this Book Againp. 245
Appendix: Then and Now: Great (And Not So Great) Moments in Creative Nonfiction, 1993-2010p. 247
Bibliographyp. 255
Permissionsp. 260
Indexp. 261
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

Rewards Program

Write a Review