Keep It Real (Paperback Edition)

Everything You Need to Know About Researching and Writing Creative Nonfiction

Edited by Lee Gutkind

This handy guide begins by defining creative nonfiction. Then it explores the flexibility of the form—the liberties and the boundaries that allow writers to be as truthful, factual, and artful as possible. A succinct but rich compendium of ideas, terms, and techniques, Keep It Real will clarify the ins and outs of writing creative nonfiction. Starting with the acknowledgment of sources, then running through fact-checking, metaphor, and navel gazing, and ending with writers’ responsibilities to their subjects, this book provides all the information writers need to write with verve while remaining true to their story.

Table of Contents

Private and Public: The Range and Scope of Creative Nonfiction Lee Gutkind
The ABCs of Creative Nonfiction
Acknowledgment of Sources
Backdoor Access
Checkbook Journalism
Composite Characters
Defamation and Libel
Evolution of the Genre
Family Members as Characters
Forewords and Afterwords
Getting Inside Characters' Heads
Guiding the Reader
Gunkholing: Finding a Story
History into Nonfiction Narrative
The "I"
Influencing Readers
Keeping It Brief
Legal Responsibilities of Publishers
The Lyric Essay
The Memoir Craze
Montage Writing
The Narrative Impulse
Point of View
Psychoanalyzing Characters
Quotation Marks
Reconstruction of Events
The Roots of Memoir
Tape Recording
Use of Imagination
The Vagaries of Memory
Whose Story to Tell
Writers' Responsibility to Subjects


Robert S. Boynton

Robert S. Boynton is the director of NYU's Magazine Writing Program. He is the author of The New New Journalism (Vintage Books, 2005) and... read more

Kristen Cosby

Kristen Cosby's work has appeared in Fourth Genre, and her essays have garnered Finalist for the 2005 Iowa Review Prize and Honorable... read more

Taha Ebrahimi

Taha Ebrahimi has written for The Seattle Times, and her nonfiction writing has earned awards from the Pacific Northwest Writers... read more

Hattie Fletcher

Hattie Fletcher has been the managing editor of Creative Nonfiction since 2004. read more

Meredith Hall

Meredith Hall's memoir, Without a Map, was recently published by Beacon Press in 2007. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The... read more

Donna Hogarty

Donna Hogarty is an assistant editor of Creative Nonfiction and a creative nonfiction MFA candidate at the University of Pittsburgh. She... read more

Kristen Iversen

Kristen Iversen is the author of the best-selling biography Molly Brown: Unraveling the Myth (winner of the Colorado Book Award for... read more

Lori Jakiela

Lori Jakiela is the author of a memoir, Miss New York Has Everything. Her chapbook, The Regulars, was published by Liquid Paper Press. Her... read more

Barbara Lounsberry

Barbara Lounsberry's books include "The Art of Fact: Contemporary Artists of Nonfiction" (1992), "The Writer in You... read more

Brenda Miller

Brenda Miller is the author of five essay collections, most recently An Earlier Life. She also co-authored Tell It Slant:... read more

Dinty W. Moore

Dinty W. Moore is author of the memoir Between Panic & Desire and many other books. He has published essays and stories in the Southern... read more

Paul Morris

Paul Morris teaches nonfiction writing at Arizona State University in Tempe. read more

Dennis Palumbo

Dennis Palumbo is a writer and licensed psychotherapist in private practice, specializing in creative issues. His latest book, Writing from... read more

Lori Pfeiffer

Lori Pfeiffer's work has appeared in Arizona Highways, Working Woman, American West Airlines Magazine, Black Enterprise and in the... read more

Mimi Schwartz

Mimi Schwartz’s books include Thoughts from a Queen-Sized Bed and Good Neighbors, Bad Times: Echoes of My Father’s German... read more

Bryant Simon

Bryant Simon is Professor of History and Director of American Studies at Temple University. He is finishing a book about Starbucks,... read more

Kathleen Tarr

Kathleen Tarr teaches writing at the University of Alaska-Anchorage. She received her MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of... read more

Sarah Z. Wexler

Sarah Z. Wexler is the author of Living Large: From SUVs to Double Ds, Why Going Bigger Isn't Going Better. Her writing has also been... read more

Susan Yohe

Susan Yohe is a shareholder with Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC, practicing in the Commercial Litigation Group. She has handled a range... read more


"Highly recommended"

Midwest Book Review

May, 2008

Who says that nonfiction has to be just the facts and nothing else? "Keep It Real" is a guide for writers who are set to write... read more

"Largely practical and eminently helpful"

Bloomsbury Review

April 1, 2008

Writers new to [creative nonfiction] would do well to start by perusing this slim tome on the subject. Editor Lee Gutkind is one of the... read more

"A stimulating and informative collection"

The Seattle Times

June 27, 2008

In "Keep It Real," editor Lee Gutkind and a passel of experienced nonfiction writers have teamed up to write a stimulating and... read more



Imagine a writer working on a complicated... read more


The dark bar smells of decades of... read more

The Vagaries of Memory

Human recollection is, to a large extent,... read more