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Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd, Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction, (Random House, 2015)

Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd, Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction, (Random House, 2015)
[Contents]
1. Beginnings
2. Narratives
 Story
 Point of View
 Characters
 Structure
3. Memoirs
4. Essays
5. Beyond Accuracy
 Fact
 Beyond Fact
6. The Problem of Style
 Jounalese
 The New Vernacular
 Institutionalese
 Propaganda
7. Art and Commerce
7.Being Edited and Editing
 Being Edited
 Editing
1. Beginnings
p.5,
quiet beginning
clarity
p.6
Clarity doesn't always mean brevity, or simplicity.
p.8
The heart of story is usually a place to arrive at, not a place to begin.
2. Narratives
 Story
p.13
Every story has to be discovered twice, first in the world and then in the author’s study.
p.14
The danger does not lie in making mistakes but in committing too soon to a promising conception that may be hard to abandon when it proves unworkable.
There are many archetypal stories: narratives of quest and trial, sin and redemption, identity and self-sacrifice; narratives of the chase, the mystery, the love triangle, the struggle between good and evil; narratives in which trouble is averted, escape is achieved, tragedy happens.  Many, maybe most, nonfiction writers go looking for narratives with those silhouettes, and they feel lucky when find the real thing, because stories out in the world don’t usually turn out as expected.
p.15
Narrative of revelation
p.16
Revelation, someone’s learning something, is what transforms event in story.
 Point of View
p.20
One thing to consider is the scale of the story.
p.21
Against a large background, “I” can provide human scale.  Most travel writing, for instance, depends on the first person, the figure in the photograph that shows you just how tall the statue is.
p.22
“restricted third person”
p.24
Lillian Ross and her classic profile of Ernest Hemingway
p.25
first-person minor
 Characters
p.34
Sometimes what’s at stake, as in a narrative of revelation, is the author’s own quest to discover a character’s identity.
 Structure
p.36
you can mess with chronology, but you have to have a good reason to do so.
3. Memoirs
p.51
John Updike concludes with a definition of self that is universal and undeniable: “that window on the world that we can’t bear to think of shutting.”
p.53
They are one response to Kierkegaard’s dilemma that life can only be understood back but must be lived forward.
Every memoir worth reading could be called The Education of the Author.
p.54
Here are some rules of good behavior for the memoirist
4. Essays
p.79
Every essayist deals with the same general ingredients --- self and experience and idea --- but everyone deals with them differently.
5. Beyond Accuracy
 Fact
p.81
What it does mean is not substituting made-up dates for real ones.
 Beyond Fact
p.85
But subjectivity properly understood is really just another name for thought.
p.86
The mind can accommodate contradictions that a story can’t.
p.91
Again, consider the difference between facts and truth.
p.103
“Truth is in the details of real lives.”
6. The Problem of Style
p.105
Fowler’s Modern English Usage
 Jounalese
 The New Vernacular
 Institutionalese
 Propaganda
7. Art and Commerce
p.132
So publishing seems bound to remain a gambler’s business.
p.135
With having the discipline to talk out of the part of yourself that can love, instead of the part that just wants to be loved.
7.Being Edited and Editing
 Being Edited
p.140
“He is willing to work as hard as the writer is.”
p.147
I usually write about ten more or less complete drafts, each one usually though not always closer to the final thing, like golf shots.
p.149
Sometimes parts of a story have to be “floated.”
p.150
timepassers, bump
p.151
a brilliance
 Editing
p.163
an obsessive mind
p.164
Kidder had an interest quite unusual for a writer, an interest in virtue.

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