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  1. #1
    Atomic Punk FH's Avatar
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    Nonfiction? That would be a bitch. Remember, you have the internet at your disposal but make sure certain sites are reliable in facts. I'm trying to think of a great source book I used to have but it might take me a while to remember what the title/author was.

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    Hang 'Em High Stuff No More's Avatar
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    I don't do nonfiction, sorry.

    If it was fiction I'd say forget the manuals, just get together a bunch of good books that you enjoy in the genre and develop your own style inspired by the mix of styles therein.
    "Just once I'd like to do the right thing and not get punished for it."

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    12.31.69 @ 04:00 PM
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    Originally posted by Axxman300:
    Can anybody reccomend a couple of good books on writing? I'm writing a nonfiction book and it's turning into a bitch.

    Any tips on interview prep?

    I need a little help and moral support.

    Thanks
    Hi Axxman,

    I've had a couple of articles published in magazines and am currently well into the 2nd draft of my own nonfiction opus, set in the music industry, oddly enough. I'm a little reluctant to admit that as I don't want my fellow VHlinkers picking apart my posts for grammatical errors now.

    I recently read Stephen King's 'On Writing" and found it to be very helpful. The thing I liked about it is that he's honest. He started off as a B-Grade writer submitting short stories to nudie mags, so he's coming from a very real place and has some genuine insight to share. The only thing I would argue with is his approach to plot. Apparently, he starts with a scenario in mind and a blank page and lets the motivations of the characters he creates, dictate where the plot goes. Yes, that can lead to great books with ultra-realistic plots, but it can also lead to substantial meandering and 1,000 page books (anyone read 'IT?'). I followed a fairly rigid plot outline and am happy with the results. I think I would've wasted a lot of time going the other route.

    Another absolutely vital resource is Strunk's Elements of Style which is online at Strunks

    Can understand the need for moral support. Writing a novel is one of the loneliest and most doubt-riddled obsessions you'll ever pursue. Easily on par with being a drug addict - lol But it's worth it when you start to see the final manuscript taking shape.

    What type of problems are you having specifically?

    Before I got into this corp. comm. gig I'm doing now, I used to be a broadcast journalist, so I can offer some fairly credible advice on interview prep. The main thing is to write some solid questions you absolutely have to have the answers to, and then listen. A good interviewer listens and that leads to good followup questions that really shed some insight. Don't go in with an agenda and be respectful of your subject's right to an unbiased and completely accurate account of whatever they put out there.

    As far as interviewing, I sort of agree with Stephen King on this point. While I appreciate the realism that the Clancy's and Crichton's of the world bring to their work, I don't think non-fiction has to take this approach. Yes, it's essential to get the facts right when you're dealing with a story element (e.g. historical setting) that the reader may have his/her own experience with, but the beauty of non-fiction is that, it's your story. William Gibson managed to write some pretty cool sci-fi books and I'm pretty sure he never lived in the 23rd century
    "Some men are born to greatness, some women have greatness thrust up in them."<br /> <br />Diamond Dave

  4. #4
    Atomic Punk MikeL's Avatar
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    03.03.15 @ 08:31 PM
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    I'd never realized non-fiction could be so fictional. [img]smile.gif[/img]

  5. #5
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    12.31.69 @ 04:00 PM
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    non-ifction's not my thing, but from what others have told me...

    - have a solid outline, & use it.

    - double check all your facts AND sources.

    - answer the question, "Why does anyone need this book?"

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    Sinner's Swing! el_jalepeno's Avatar
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    10.28.15 @ 05:22 PM
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    Originally posted by Ikeda:
    non-ifction's not my thing, but from what others have told me...

    - have a solid outline, & use it.

    - double check all your facts AND sources.

    - answer the question, "Why does anyone need this book?"
    Words to live by [img]graemlins/thumb.gif[/img]

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    I've always taken a lot of pride in my writing. It really sucks not having an english class this year (Boo-hiss, Computer Science! I'm seriously wanting to switch my area of study to arts these days...).

    Anyway, it has always been my personal belief that how-to style books are a crock. You shouldn't be told or instructed in how to write, otherwise you will never develop your own personal style. In my opinion, the best way to improve your writing skills is through the reaction of others. Get people to read it and give you honest opinions and criticisms of it. Positive or negative, it will all be beneficial to you in the end, as you want to be able to infect as many personalities as possible.
    "The common thing on governments as an institution is: they're all bad worldwide. It might be the only thing that binds all nations together: the incompetence of their governments. Look at the people who have been president in the US so far... could I DO ANY WORSE?"<br /> <br />~ Frank Zappa

  8. #8
    Atomic Punk
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    05.31.14 @ 08:17 PM
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    Can anybody reccomend a couple of good books on writing? I'm writing a nonfiction book and it's turning into a bitch.

    Any tips on interview prep?

    I need a little help and moral support.

    Thanks
    "Nothing is ever what it seems but everything is exactly what it is." - B. Banzai


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    12.31.69 @ 04:00 PM
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    If it's military history, I would encourage getting an international perspective on it, if possible. A different viewpoint on the issue(s) could really add quite a bit, IMO.
    "The common thing on governments as an institution is: they're all bad worldwide. It might be the only thing that binds all nations together: the incompetence of their governments. Look at the people who have been president in the US so far... could I DO ANY WORSE?"<br /> <br />~ Frank Zappa

  10. #10
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    12.31.69 @ 04:00 PM
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    Originally posted by MikeL:
    I'd never realized non-fiction could be so fictional. [img]smile.gif[/img]
    Duh, you guys are talking about non-fiction and I'm talking about fiction. I think I took too much cough syrup that day. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
    "Some men are born to greatness, some women have greatness thrust up in them."<br /> <br />Diamond Dave

  11. #11
    Hot For Teacher
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    12.31.69 @ 04:00 PM
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    hopefully i can help ya on the interview thing.

    when it comes to interviews, there is a basic outline that follows through the entire process:

    prep
    ability to listen
    observation
    absorbing/understanding
    relating to person/participation
    patience
    confidence

    The 3 main stages to an interview is research, set-up, and asking the questions.

    during research, you go and read up on as much as you can about the topic - even if you think you know a lot. You can't walk up to the person and go, "tell me all ya know." The purpose of the interview is to get support for points ya want to make, get quotes, learn stuff ya couldn't find anywhere else, and get a deeper understanding of all that stuff ya read in other areas.

    the set-up consists of getting the appt. with the person to do this, writing down questions, and getting the materials ya need to preserve the interview. Remember, if you are going to record it, ask for permission first.

    Asking the questions is exactly what it sounds like. But fon't forget the parts in the outline before about observing, absorbing/understanding, and relating to the person. When asking the big Qs, look to how the person reacts with facial expressions, listen to their voice, hand motions, all of that. Also understnad what they are saying. If you don't, [b]do not[b] be afraid to ask them to explain further. It's why you are there. Zero in on key points. If you beat around the bush for too long, not only are you likely to forget where you were going with something, they might also lose their train of thought. And most importantly, look out for questions raised in the midst of the convo! They could present you with a gem of a question as they are talking. Grab it. Could give your work the extra push into something good. If you are having problems getting them to open up, relate to them. Appeal to their emotional side.

    Now interviews usually follow 2 patterns:

    funnel and inverted funnel

    in a funnel interview, you ask the toughest question first and work your way down. An inverted funnel works from soft to tough, and can then work it's way out again or primarily focus on tha tough question. Thing is, you don't want to move from that important question until you are satisfied with everything you have been told. Words from my experience: interviews are not for the wishy-washy. Only once has the "i've never done this before can ya be easy on me" approach worked for me, and that was with a professor who know i had do this article for the paper. Sometimes it can work. Mainly works for chicks cuz supposidly we are inferior like that. Also, scope out your person before ya decide how ya are gonna go about it. Feel the water by chatting up a little to see if ya want to start with the big one or ease it in. The inverted funnel is good to gain trust w/your interviewee so that you might be given more info than otherwise [img]graemlins/thumb.gif[/img]

    After everything is done, thank them, shake their hand, and go home to review the stuff. If you are taping, don't jsut tape but take notes of stuff you think is important. A lot of people who start out in interviewing think it's rude to look down and write as the person is talking. Don't think like that. they know why you are there, you know why you are there, jsut dont keep your head in your notepad the whole thing. Eye contact helps build trust. You might also want to write a thank you note to them. It's considered professional-like and all. Also, when you are goin over your notes n such, if you are confused, have a question come up, or if you find more info and want to clear something up, call up your interviewee and ask follow-up questions. Follow-up questions do more than secure specific questions, they create a rapport and indicate that you are genuinly curious.

    Now comes some stuff that might help you as you right your non-fiction book. What I'm gonna explain now is what we do when we write feature articles after doin an interview. If ya don't know what a feature article is, it's something ya might find in a magazine or a soft-news article in the paper about someone affected by something. For example, I wrote an article about a guy from my mom's office who is working on the insurance claims for the United flight from 9/11 and has to take care of 3 daughters by himself. I don't know exactly what your book is on, but i'm hoping some of this might help you.

    When putting the interview down on paper, recreate vivd scenes. This is all apart of that absorbing deal. Capture the surroundings as best as you can. Use and appeal to all 5 senses.

    Let the source speak through the dialouge. Add inflection and always quote. Quoting in the key element in recreating scenes.

    To keep a readers interest, foreshadow important events. Kinda like how Behind the music does with the people who die and they'll put something in hinting it 20 minutes before they actually talk about it. Foreshadowing basically advertises what's coming and it's the most successfu; way of keeping a reader's interest cuz it not only tells, but it promises that the good stuff is coming up. If you are stuck, go watch a Behind the music or a lifetime intimate portrait cuz they do this almost to perfection. If ya don't want to sit through those, think of it this way - every lead of every newsstory is a foreshadow. We tell you what's coming up before ya read about the details.

    Another way to help your story flow is to use anecdotes. What the fuck are these? They are little stories embedded within the main story. they can help illustrate a point in the story and can also keep a reader's interest. This morning I was crossing Flatbush Ave, a very buzy street here in Brooklyn. It had been snowing so there were puddles of water collected in the potholes. So as i was running across, trying ot be on time for my Spanish test, a car ran through such a puddle and soaked my notebook that was in my hand. Well, I dabbed the book all i could, but would ya know that my interview with the new Pharm. Prof was ruined! I was glad i had a back-up copy at home.

    okay, so my anecdote has no real point in this part of my presentation, but i'm sure ya got my drift. Stories keep attention.

    If you are doing chapters, remember they are like mini-essays. three to five main points within each. Don't cram a chapter with too much or you'll either confuse/dis-interest the reader or even yourself as you write! Give each an intro and a conclusion, blah, blah, blah, that about it. Depending on what you are writing about, you might want ot devote a chapter to one person, and then another to another person and then anohter comparing the two. Like for ex, the Holocaust. One survivor's expierence in this camp, maybe a male, and then another's in another camp or the same one (poss. female) i hope that make sense.

    Actually i hope this all made sense [img]redface.gif[/img]
    The pessimist says the cup is half empty. The optimist says it's half full. The pragmatist says its liquid contents are at 50% capacity. The ironist says its half full of air. The plumber says the cup must be leaking. George Carlin says the cup is too big. The Starbucks employee says its so you have room for cream. The conspiracy theorist says aliens took the other half. The baseball player says his cup is definitely full. MacGuyver says he can build a powerful explosive with it. The psychoanalyst says the cup is your mother. The punk sitting next to you also says the cup is your mother. The romance novelist says the cup is a willing receptacle to the wild gushing torrents of pure passion from the hard chiseled urn. The zen master says There is no cup. Pamela Anderson says her cups are definitely full. Me? Refill!

  12. #12
    Atomic Punk
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    05.31.14 @ 08:17 PM
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    Great advise all!

    Cravy From The Hemp,

    The two King books are the ones I have and they've been a big help. There my be over 150 guys I'll end up talking to. It's a military history piece that covers a ten year span. I started my list of questions and I've been at two different libraries going through ten years of microfilm for two different news papers. From there I've put togather a list of names and I've posted those name at the appropriate site and have gotten good responses. The Army has been a little helpful but they say I have to make a trip to Suitland MD, to visit their archives and hit Ft Leavenworth,KS for their rest of their archives. The Army has been slow in back loading their files onto computer, if it happened before 1992 it's not online, at least from official Army sites. The Federation of American Sceintists www.fas.org has been a big help.

    I envision my approach like Peter Faulk in Columbo. Get a conversation going and work the questions in. Then get back to them for cross refference and to varification of info. I'm the smooze master. I'm just a little nervous. I want to do a good job of the men and women who served in this unit. I also don't want to look like a dipshit.

    The great thing is that when I'm done I will have enough matiriel for two books and a novel.

    My favorite non fiction books in this catagory are:

    Crusade -Atkins. The book on the Gulf War.
    Blackhawk Down - Bowden, about Taskforce Ranger and the 10/3 raid in Mogedishu.

    The Commandos - Douglas Waller, about Special Operations units of the Army,Navy and Air Force.
    "Nothing is ever what it seems but everything is exactly what it is." - B. Banzai


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  13. #13
    Atomic Punk
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    05.31.14 @ 08:17 PM
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    Originally posted by BAM5150:
    If it's military history, I would encourage getting an international perspective on it, if possible. A different viewpoint on the issue(s) could really add quite a bit, IMO.
    Believe me, if I could afford a trip to Honduras and Panama I'd be on the next plane outa here. I'm familiar with the OAS's opinions and I have access to my old Congressman, Leon Panetta, as well as the think tankers at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. The focus of the book is how the Army took what it learned in Vietnam and applied them to a functional concept that was embodied by this one division. The problem is that the Army is sticking it's head back up it's ass and going backwards in a handful of key stratigies and philosophies.

    [ November 29, 2002, 02:01 AM: Message edited by: Axxman300 ]
    "Nothing is ever what it seems but everything is exactly what it is." - B. Banzai


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