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Ask the Non-Fic Guru



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Mon Mar 11, 2013 4:56 pm
BenFranks says...



Just a thread for anyone and everyone to ask questions relating to non-fiction. This can include (but is not limited to): formatting, layout, style, formal mannerisms, language and semantics.

I have specialisms in:
- Letter Writing
- Curriculum Vitae
- Editing
- Article writing
- Review writing
- Essay presentation
- Numerical Referencing (UK)
- Headers, subheadings
- Press releases
- Social networking
- Blogs


Use me at your will.
  





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Sat Mar 16, 2013 11:53 pm
AlfredSymon says...



Just a short Q, Benny: in news, where should I place the statistics? I mean, the numbers and all. They're all very important and in retrospect, they might be the focus of the news article itself, but they're too long and might crowd the first paragraph.

Yours truly,
Non-fiction Writer ;)
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Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:29 pm
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BenFranks says...



Hi Alfred,

When you write your news story the important part is the hook, so you'll need to think what stats grab your reader the most -- if it's for a newspaper there might be a certain angle they'd rather emphasise (for example The Guardian would focus more so on the stats regarding society, class and people, whereas The Times would be further concerned with capitalist economics, etc.) -- and the general rule of thumb is no more than two stats per paragraph (bearing in mind opening paragraphs of news stories are often short as it is).

You can then work your statistics into your later deeper analysis, with each one then acting as a writing tool for maintaining interest, hooking them into the following paragraph as it were.
  





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Wed Mar 20, 2013 1:09 pm
indieeloise says...



Hey, Ben! I found it very interesting that you listed "Letter Writing" in your areas of expertise. Any helpful tips or do's/don't's for this contest ?
"My hobbies include editing my life story, hiding behind metaphors, and trying to convince my shadows that I am someone worth following." - Rudy Francisco
  





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Wed Mar 20, 2013 4:26 pm
BenFranks says...



Hi there,

Usually I'd be pointing you in the direction of formality--and if you're interested in that side of letter writing you can check out this brilliant guide here: http://www.usingenglish.com/resources/l ... riting.php , obviously just replace the examples of CV and job-related lingo to fit your needs of asking questions. However the idea of the handwritten letter is something entirely different - especially for creative competition.

The thing about handwritten letters is they're naturally more personal. The recipient therefore is looking for emotion and passion in you're writing; they don't want to be overloaded because that would disregard your piece in the 'fan-mail' bin, as it were; but you don't want to be too reserved either, because it'll simply seem like you lack the interest.

They want to know you're interested. Important points to aid the translation of this into your letting writing is to do research on who you're writing to. For example you might read their poem but also consider these:
- How old are they?
- What have they done in their lives?
- What's their views?
- Why do they write poetry?
(Get as much information as you can)
And, most importantly, you must have an answer for this question:
- Why are you interested in them particularly?
---- What stands out, why?
---- Have they overcome something you too wish to overcome?
---- Do they inspire you?
---- Perhaps there's something about them that actually angers or challenges you, if so, what?

If your letter is well-rounded, well-researched and emotionally balanced you're looking at a gem of a piece.

Hope this helps.
  





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Sat Mar 23, 2013 1:39 am
Stori says...



Just out of curiosity, Ben, do you know how to write humorous essays?
  





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Sun Mar 24, 2013 9:13 pm
BenFranks says...



I wouldn't say I'm a guru at doing so, but funnily enough (no pun intended) I wrote a humorous essay for my degree submission recently. I can share with you some of the feedback, hopefully it helps.

I used quite a conversational tone; although I made sure that my priority was getting the point across seriously. This was picked up on. Although the tone was informal, light humoured and used exaggeration (rarely and tastefully, which is key), the point I was making was clear, well-rounded and backed-up.

You can add humour to your essay also by referencing people sarcastically, so you may make a serious point and then reference someone of little notability -- if you do this well, it can make quite the impact.

I was told to avoid making explicit punchlines. They often devalued my point and, although the one in the conclusion apparently made my lecturer laugh, she said overall I should tone it down. So, I did.

Hope this helps - I realise it's vague.
  





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Sat Mar 30, 2013 5:12 am
BadNarrator says...



Could you school is on the process of getting a piece of creative non-fiction published. Specifically how it compares to getting a short story or a poem published in a magazine or literary journal.

On a completely unrelated note, would you consider a dream journal to be creative non-fiction?
First you will awake in disbelief, then
in sadness and grief and when you wake
the last time, the forest you've been
looking for will turn out to be
right in the middle of your chest.
  





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Sun Mar 31, 2013 1:41 pm
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BenFranks says...



Hi there, BadNarrator.

Interestingly Creative Non-Fiction is on the rise, and I would definitely consider a dream journal to fall into that kind of genre; depending on your publisher, that is, as a publisher may well wish to market it as fiction--the genre it is finally marketed as is the decision of a publisher or agent, as it is a marketing decision, and not up to you, unless you decide to self-publish.

With Non-Fiction, it is a little different from the literary world. You're more likely to be published if you submit to papers, magazines and online journals if you do so in volumes. Therefore, you need to divide up your journal. Eventually, if your piece is successful and admired your agent or publisher may choose to publish an entire collection, but you should not try to do this first, by-volume publication is much more likely.

Next you will need a "pitch", which I describe how to do here (Part I - Article Writing). You should adapt this advice to fit your volume of creative non-fiction. Then send this to agents, publishers, magazines, newspapers and source interest for your idea.

In Non-Fiction, you get published through connections, so anyone you interact with you should stay in touch with. This investment of your time may pay off in future and is a worthwhile effort.

Hope that helps.
  





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Sun Mar 31, 2013 8:36 pm
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BadNarrator says...



Thanks that was very helpful.
First you will awake in disbelief, then
in sadness and grief and when you wake
the last time, the forest you've been
looking for will turn out to be
right in the middle of your chest.
  





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Fri Apr 05, 2013 5:24 am
AlfredSymon says...



Quick question: I have in my curriculum a subject called Creative Non-fiction. What do you think will I encounter there? And how should I prepare?
Need some feed? Then read some! Take a look at today's Squills at In the News.

The Tatterdemalion takes a tattle!

"Stories are like yarn; just hold on to the tip and let the ball roll away"
  





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411 Reviews



Gender: Male
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Sun Apr 07, 2013 2:05 am
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BenFranks says...



Creative Non-Fiction is using topical information to your advantage creatively, so this could include satire for example.

I'd mainly suggest you're well-read in terms of newspapers, serious discussions concerning people these days, and - if it takes your fancy - a little history to tastefully add.

This should all enhance your ability to write creatively through non-fiction.

You will probably encounter, in terms of genres, life-writing, journals, diaries, script-writing, docu-writing, topical poetry, political-agenda fiction, comedy, etc.
  





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Fri Feb 14, 2014 12:56 pm
BenFranks says...



Opening this back up for anyone and everyone!
  








For in everything it is no easy task to find the middle ... anyone can get angry—that is easy—or give or spend money; but to do this to the right person, to the right extent, at the right time, with the right motive, and in the right way, that is not for everyone, nor is it easy; wherefore goodness is both rare and laudable and noble.
— Aristotle