This will be my last post on Maggie Thrash, hopefully, the constant posting about her page will have made one of you go and check it out (HERE). So I think I’ve come up with a list to help others who want to dabble in creative nonfiction from what I have seen from Maggie’s page.
1. Tell a Memorable Story
Stories, in general, have always had humans fascinated. I think stories are fundamental in our lives. A TV show is merely a story. Gossip to co-workers is merely a story. Telling a loved one how your day was is merely a story.
If you include things like examples, experiences, and comparisons then your story will be stronger and more relatable. Nonfiction is about relating, and Maggie does this.
2. Bait Your Audience
A great story grabs your attention right at the beginning and doesn’t let go until the end. Maggie uses certain strategies to do this. Honor Girl is a graphic memoir about her experience in summer camp. Pictures always get attention, and beginning with something that’s personal doesn’t hurt.
Or starting with an interesting or funny thought works. Maggie’s videos all start with something interesting like, “7th “Gay” Heaven.” Or her page catching my attention with the confessions. She makes you want to read further, or look further.
3. Use Emotional Language
More imagery, more emotion, and more personality. Words like “confession” or “surge” (which are both on Maggie’s page) are emotionally charged words that hit an audience strongly. Evoke vital emotions, and emotion will keep the reader’s eyes glued to every single word of yours. Make them feel your words.
4. Say it Simply
Short sentences and easily understandable vocabulary where your ideas can be broken down into detail. Shorter paragraphs with more white space, which is why the idea of a graphic memoir works. I mean, you can impress your readers with the story rather than with the wording.
5. Surprise Your Reader
I find that I have a harder time reading nonfiction because it frequently reads predictably. But a memoir that is in graphic form is not predictable. Maggie’s second novel, We Know It Was You, is about a suicide/murder. It’s a mystery. As writers, we should be adding unexpected twists when we can. We should aim for keeping things interesting and fun for our readers. Maggie does this with her pure disregard for outside opinion.
Actually, I think these techniques work for fiction as well. It’s all about telling a story. What do you guys think?
“Nonfiction is never going to die.” -Tom Wolfe