I’m a literary journalist who has specialized in telling other people’s true stories for more than 25 years. I was one of the early “adapters” to the Creative Nonfiction movement, as promoted by Goucher College in the late 1990s. Here’s how I define my art:
What Makes Journalism “Literary”?
Like other nonfiction writers, the Literary Journalist seeks to convey information, but her approach to craft results in a far deeper sense of enjoyment for the reader. The prose entices us to see in a new way, to grasp meaning beyond the story itself.
In her narrative, the Literary Journalist delights in selecting just the right word or metaphor that will entertain, while providing unexpected illumination. We agonize over sentences, but our struggle is never exposed to the reader.
Literary Journalism combines good research with character-driven storytelling. Then we kick it up a notch by engaging the reader’s senses, providing cinematic details and orienting the story’s time, space and circumstance. Our reader becomes invested, stitched into the very fabric of the narrative.
Tools used by the Literary Journalist – sequence, arc, engine, tension, character-defining elements, suspense, pacing and voice – are carefully calculated to captivate the reader’s imagination. The quality of syntax and diction are distinguishing features of Literary Journalism.
Our fact-based storytelling is so compelling that it keeps the reader reading, but not only for the usual purpose, which is often to find out what happens next. The mark of success is that the reader truly does not want the experience to end.
Literary Journalism’s primary purpose is informed pleasure.
My husband, Jim, and I live in Northwest Florida with our yellow Labrador, Lily Belle.