| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter RSS Feed

Civic Impact

You know you have a story to tell; learn how to write it

Creative Nonfiction magazine hosts only one conference in the country about learning to tell stories in the most effective way, and it's held right here in the birthplace of the publication.
"It's a great chance to hear some of the best writers in the region talk about the genre," says Anjali Sachdeva, the magazine's director of online education. "A lot of people don't even know what creative nonfiction is. If you're that kind of a person, it's a great way to learn about it and jump in."
"Creative nonfiction," of course, adds a personal perspective and voice to factual stories, taking them beyond daily newspaper-style accounts; it may even include elements of fiction and poetry.
The Best of Creative Nonfiction Conference, held May 25-26 in downtown's Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Arts Education Center, has talks and workshops that focus on writing memoirs, magazine articles, personal essays and other pieces, touching on the latest marketplaces, motivational tools and ways to perfect your work. The presenters include Sachdeva, who also teaches at the University of Pittsburgh; magazine founder Lee Gutkind; Carnegie Mellon University professor and memoirist Jane Bernstein; Theresa Brown, author of Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Death, Life, and Everything in Between; Creative Nonfiction Managing Editor Hattie Fletcher; and Leslie Rubinkowski, author of Impersonating Elvis.
The conference will include sessions on "Why True Stories Matter," "Overcoming Writer’s Block," "The Literary Landscape," "Why Memoir, Why Not?" and "Polishing Your Prose." Overall, the conference will focus on "how you create a narrative that makes a reader want to keep reading," Sachdeva says.
"There are a lot of interesting questions right now about how honest or how fictional you need to be," she notes. One camp among creative nonfiction writers is intensely devoted to fact, frowning on pieces that take the reader inside someone's head (other than the author's own cranium) or reconstruct scenes that no one alive could have witnessed. Other such writers live at nonfiction's borders with fiction, producing fictionalized memoirs, or combining poetry and personal essays.
What makes the best creative nonfiction? "It has a narrative that quickly grabs our attention … and that is surprising in some way, either because of the way it is written or the story it is telling," says Sachdeva. "The unifying factor is its basis in a good story."
Register here for the conference; using the code CNFPOP during registration will get you 10 percent off the registration cost through May 17.
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Anjali Sachdeva, Creative Nonfiction
Signup for Email Alerts
Signup for Email Alerts