The challenges of writing Narrative Non-Fiction

It’s been five weeks since I had my first meeting and my first milestone was set: a strapline, a story arc and 20,000 words, much of it already written, so meeting the deadline six weeks away in mid-July should have been a breeze. It wasn’t and that deadline is now only four days away and I’ll just make it. Why?

My mentor Claire Wingfield set work before the first meeting to de-structure two books that have a similar structure to the Memoir I’m writing (See my blog of 8th June 2019). Through that process, especially from The Day that went Missing (Heat and Dust is fiction, but written as Memoir), I realised that I must be explicit that when creative narrative is used and has to be used. Dialogue is important to bring the story alive, to move the story and plot forward, but the events happened many years before and are only recorded in diaries, photos, diaries and newspaper cuttings.

The next part of the editing process was to consider the story arc and consider the first chapters as part of the whole book and checking that leads were laid and woven through to be picked up later. This then led to structural changes (some paragraphs were moved around, one chapter was split between two others) and content changes and additions looking at plot and setting and finding shorter, more exact ways to express myself. The result was that I had lost a few thousand words and had to write another chapter to reach the word count.

It’s been a very good process. I look forward to the feedback from Claire Wingfield and moving forward with the book.

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2 Responses to The challenges of writing Narrative Non-Fiction

  1. james says:

    Have enjoyed reading your last few posts Hilary and eagerly await the book!

    • Hilary says:

      Hi James,
      Thanks for returning and reading the updates of my blog. I’m about a quarter into the book, but I’m warned that publishers usually demand a rewrite so it will be next year for publication.
      Hilary

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