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Creative Nonfiction: Writing about The Global Village

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September 2012
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Dave Hood

Focusing your lens on the world beyond your neighborhood, community, town, city, country is another way to uncover material to write about. The Global village offers an endless number of topics and issues and  influential people who  you can write about, such as terrorism, global warming, war, famine, religious extremism, human rights, AIDS, famine, poverty, the Third World, and much more.

To understand the global village, you’ll be required to stay informed. How? Reading publications that focus on publishing articles about international relations, world issues, and global topics.  For instance, the current edition of Foreign Policy deals with “Cities in China”, decapitating rogue regimes, living in slums. It also includes interviews Ai Weiwei, the Chinese dissident, and Salman Rushdie, who has been the enemy of radical Islam for many years.

 In writing about the world stage, you’ll craft literary journalism essays about other people, places, events, issues, and experiences. Often, extensive research is required. Not only will the you be required to read newspapers and magazines, you must also conduct extensive research in the library. You might also be required to carry out interviews with eye witnesses and subject matter experts. As well, the you might have to visit the place where the events occurred, or immerse yourself in the experience as it unfolds.

In this article, I’ll discuss the following aspects about writing about the global village:

  • Moving way from writing about the self
  • How to approach writing about the world beyond
  • The Five R’s of Creative Nonfiction
  • Creative writing techniques
  • Resources on how to write creative nonfiction

Moving Away from Writing about Self

Writing about the global village is like writing  about popular culture. You must move beyond memories of your past. Lee Gutkind, author of ” You Can’t Make this Stuff Up,” distinguishes between “public” and “personal” creative nonfiction. For instance, when writing a memoir or personal narrative, you are writing about yourself, your own experiences, things that happened to you. This is personal side of creative nonfiction. In contrast, the public side of creative nonfiction is “someone else’s story.”  Anyone can write about it. It requires that your lens be focused on the world beyond—the global village beyond your own life and the pop culture of the society you inhabit.

Check out The Atlantic, Harper’s, The New Yorker, and you’ll see examples of how writers use the tools of creative nonfiction to write about the global village.

Writing about the global village requires that you are informed and educated about global issues and events and topics. Staying informed requires that you read the newspaper and watch the news. It entails conducting research and analysis. You’ll usually have to visit the library, read a books and  magazines by experts.

How to Approach Writing about the World Beyond

In “Tell It Slant”, author Brenda Miller suggests that you can write from two perspectives:

  • The Layperson. Using this approach, your uncover facts and knowledge, such as scientific facts, and then add it to your own personal essay, memoir, literary journalism, which is not directly about the scientific facts you have uncovered. What might you include? knowledge of psychology, sociology, philosophy, physics, biology, astronomy, literature, anything else that is relevant
  • The Expert Approach. The other way in which you can write about the outside world is to become a subject matter expert. To do this, you must learn everything you can by researching your subject at the library, conducting interviews, and by immersion.

What are some global issues you can write about? There are countless topics and issues to write about. Here are a few topics to consider:

  • Genocide and war and war crimes and crimes against humanity
  • Population growth, global poverty, famine, starvation
  • Authoritarian government, Torture, failed states
  • Human rights and Amnesty International
  • Global warming, over population, extinction of species, desertification
  • Religious extremism, fanatical leaders, sharia law, patriarchal societies
  • The oppression of women in the third world.
  • Global Village. If want desire to understand the economic, political, and social climate, read Time, MacLean’s, The Economist, The Atlantic, Harper’s, The New Yorker magazine, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs.

The Five R’s of Creative Nonfiction

Writing about the global village as a creative nonfiction writer involves:

  • Real Life– Writing about real people, actual events, and actual places
  • Research– Collecting facts from the library, interviews, Internet
  • Writing-Writing literary journalism essays, autobiographies, or biographies
  • Reflection-Sharing personal thoughts, feelings, perspectives
  • Reading-Read autobiographies,  biographies, and other informative books about the world in which you live.

In writing about the global village, you purpose is to inform, educate, and entertain. To achieve these purposes, you’ll apply the tools of creative nonfiction. For instance, you’ll write scenes to describe significant events, write summaries to explain, and include your own thoughts or reflections about what happened. You’ll share narratives that are true, factual, and accurate–but read like fictional stories.

 

Creative Writing Techniques

Writing about the global village as a creative nonfiction writer requires the following:

  • Writing in scene (to show), summary (to tell), personal reflection
  • Storytelling and other tools of fiction, such as narrative arc, dialogue, setting, characterization, point of view
  • Using poetic devices of simile, metaphor, imagery
  • Writing Concrete, particular, and significant descriptions
  • Creating structure- Narrative, lyrical, meditative, opinion with an argument, or organic.
  • Revealing the inner point of view-It means to see the world through the eyes of the person or people you are writing about.
  • Providing intimate details-It means to capture significant details, based on observation, that a reader would not normally imagine as he/she reads the narrative.
  • Researching the topic-Interviewing, immersion, fact-collection from the Library or Internet.

A Few Tips

Writing about the global village requires that you are informed and understand the issues and topics and events around the world. To expand your understanding of the global village, do the following:

  • Read news-oriented magazines, such as Time magazines, The Economist, MacLean’s, and Foreign Policy magazine
  • Read the newspaper, such as your city newspaper or newspapers from around the world on the Internet.
  • Read good books by subject matter experts.
  • Watch and listen to the news on television or radio or Internet
  • View important documentaries on YouTube or in the cinema or on television
  • Keep a writing journal, making note of your thoughts and feelings of a particular event making news.

To find out more about writing creative nonfiction, I strongly recommend that you read Lee Gutkind’s new book, “You Can’t Make this Stuff Up.” It’s a complete guide to writing creative nonfiction.

 

Resources

  • Tell It Slant: Creating, Refining, and Publishing Creative Nonfiction, Second edition by Brenda Miller and Suzanne Paola
  • Creative Nonfiction : A Guide to Form, Content, and Style with Readings by Eileen Pollack
  • To Tell the Truth: Practise and Craft in Narrative Nonfiction by Connie D. Griffin
  • You Can’t Make This Stuff: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative nonfiction from Memoir to Literary Journalism and Everything In Between Up by Lee Gutkind
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