1st Edition

Writing True Stories The complete guide to writing autobiography, memoir, personal essay, biography, travel and creative nonfiction

By Patti Miller, Patti Miller Copyright 2017
    352 Pages
    by Routledge

    352 Pages
    by Routledge

    Writing True Stories is the essential book for anyone who has ever wanted to write a memoir or explore the wider territory of creative nonfiction. It provides practical guidance and inspiration on a vast array of writing topics, including how to access memories, find a narrative voice, build a vivid world on the page, create structure, use research-and face the difficulties of truth-telling.

    This book introduces and develops key writing skills, and then challenges more experienced writers to extend their knowledge and practice of the genre into literary nonfiction, true crime, biography, the personal essay, and travel and sojourn writing. Whether you want to write your own autobiography, investigate a wide-ranging political issue or bring to life an intriguing history, this book will be your guide.

    Writing True Stories is practical and easy to use as well as an encouraging and insightful companion on the writing journey. Written in a warm, clear and engaging style, it will get you started on the story you want to write-and keep you going until you reach the end.

    Prologue, Part One: Starting Out, 1. Exploring the territory, 2. How to use this book, 3. Workshop One: Getting started, 4. Workshop Two: Memory and other sources, 5. Workshop Three: Bringing it to life — Detail, 6. Workshop Four: Bringing it to life — Scenes, 7. Workshop Five: Finding your voice, 8. Workshop Six: Structure, 9. Workshop Seven: Inventing the story — Narrative, 10. Workshop Eight: Style matters and editing, Part Two: Masterclasses, 11. Workshop Nine: Midway blues — Continuing on, 12. Workshop Ten: Madeleines and unicorns — Sensory detail, 13. Workshop Eleven: Research, 14. Workshop Twelve: The storyteller’s seat — Narrating position, 15. Workshop Thirteen: Beauty of form — More structure, 16. Workshop Fourteen: The magic spell — More narrative, 17. Workshop Fifteen: Difficulties of truth-telling, 18. Workshop Sixteen: Avoiding self-indulgence, 19. Workshop Seventeen: Borderlands — Memoir and fiction, 20. Workshop Eighteen: Creative nonfiction, 21. Workshop Nineteen: Wish you were here—Travel memoir, 22. Workshop Twenty: Random provocations—The personal essay, 23. Where to now?—Publishing, Reading list, Useful contacts, Acknowledgements, Index


    Patti Miller is an award-winning memoirist and nonfiction writer, whose 2012 book, The Mind of a Thief, was longlisted for the Stella Prize and the Nita Kibble Prize, shortlisted for the WA Premier's Prize for Non-Fiction, winner of the NSW Premier's Prize for History and on the syllabus for English for the VCE in Victoria. Since then she has released Ransacking Paris, 2015, and The Joy of High Places, 2019, to critical acclaim. Her two previous writing books, Writing Your Life and The Memoir Book, have been continually in print since publication. Patti is a highly successful life-writing teacher and mentor who offers courses at the Faber Academy, as well as many other writing centres around Australia and in Paris and London. Her tenth book, True Friends, will be released in April 2022.

    Patti Miller believes we all have a story to tell and she has a unique ability to coax it out of us. Whether writing for others or for personal record, Patti causes us to ask the right questions and prompts us with cues to jog our memory, helping us to 'show' (not tell) stories from our lives. The life writing process, with Patti as gentle guide, is as much about own self-discovery as sharing our story. Without Patti, I would never have discovered my creative voice beyond writing the news.

    Jacinta Tynan, Journalist, Columnist, Author.

    'A rich, practical and accessible source of wisdom ... the complete tool kit.' Caroline Baum

    'Patti is the writing whisperer! She taught me how to stop daydreaming and to get writing. I couldn't have written my memoir without her!' Jessica Rowe