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Saturday, April 18, 2009

What Not to Do in Creative Nonfiction

A book reviewer in The Oregonian laments that the author of Animal Investigators: How the World's First Wildlife Forensics Lab Is Solving Crimes and Saving Endangered Species.
"bogs down in tedious details and only in the last chapter focuses on the Wildlife Lab that, in the reviewer's opinion, should have been the frame the story hung on.

I haven't read the book. I don't know if the reviewer mistook the writer's intent. But I glean from the review some points to consider in the writing of a book:

  • Do we know the point of the book we're working on?
  • Does the reader know the point of the book? Did we tell her straight out what we are trying to do? If not, why not? In the aforementioned review, it's possible that the writer was telling the story she wanted to tell
  • Do the details we use bolster the point? It's so easy to fall in love with the details we unearth as we research.


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