It’s great to see a guide to short form creative writing that covers non-fiction as well as fiction. Terms like “flash fiction” and “micro fiction” tend to be reserved for, well, fiction. I have experimented with nano book reviews, which I defined as reviews of 6 words. See 5 Types Of Book Review for more information. But as far as I know, short-form non-fiction has been overlooked by the writers of how-to books and academics. If you don’t believe me, have a look at the creative writing section of your favourite bookshop.
Short-Form Creative Writing takes a very structured approach. I was astonished by just how many kinds of short-form writing have been identified — around 80 — (although I suspect there is a lot of “double counting” using different terminology).
There are examples of short-form non-fiction, along interviews with their writers. The exercises and prompts are challenging (I usually find the ones set in creative writing books irrelevant or impossible or just plain boring). Take this one for example:
Craft a six-word memoir in which something changes and where the piece has the feeling or suggestion of a beginning, middle and end.
What? Six words? Now that is something I must try!
I’m not yet in a position to review the book properly, as I like to read the whole thing before passing judgement. However, I will say this from my reading so far:
The book is very readable.
I like the fact that there is a genre index of all the pieces included in the book. However, it’s a shame that the pieces are listed in alphabetical order of the writers. I should have thought a more logical approach (and more useful) would have been to have arranged them in order of genre. Still, the list is short enough for this not to be a major stumbling block.
It’s given me permission, as it were, to experiment with writing very short non-fiction pieces in which I don’t attempt to instruct the reader what the point of the story is: why not let them figure it out for themselves, or come to their own conclusions? (See Turn of phrase and A spreadsheet moment.)
You may be very good at condensing a complex argument and proposals down to no more than six bullet points (as one of my line managers always demanded). This book makes it clear that there are more creative opportunities too!
Interim conclusion: a great book, full of unexpected nuggets, challenges and enjoyment. Or, in six words: Enlightening, challenging and varied. Buy it!
I was sent a review copy of this book, but that has not influenced my opinion of it.