The Story is . . . the Story

Title: The Story is . . . the Story

Lee Gutkind

Lee Gutkind

Abstract: The story today in politics—and in science, technology, business, policy and journalism—is the story. Everyone, every organization, needs a narrative. Especially when connecting with, informing and influencing the general public. The popularity and usefulness of synchronizing story and fact has become crucial, as the world becomes more complicated and innovation more difficult to comprehend.

Lee Gutkind will take us back a half century when stories about two murderers in Kansas and a sickly Frank Sinatra began the literary and journalistic evolution of what is known as creative nonfiction—"true stories well told”--today the fastest growing genre in the publishing industry and in the academy. Essays in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and many other publications are now mostly narrative. Excellent and effective nonfiction narrative books like Being Mortal or the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks are selling millions of copies.

But the danger, in our rush to tell a good story, is that the style may take precedence over substance. Story can overwhelm the information. And some writers or speakers simply make stuff up.

In the past, there have been gatekeepers and severe penalties for writers who have crossed the line in order to mislead and profit. Today, however, the gatekeepers are mostly gone or have been discredited by the same techniques that they practice and promote: words and story—and not just by Donald Trump and Kellyanne Conway, but now on Broadway.

Gutkind will discuss the challenges of true story writing and the decisions writers must make: What are the techniques that writers use or misuse to create interest, drama and suspense to keep a reader captivated and to persuade them to adapt their ideas and act upon them? Can we exaggerate? Imagine? Recreate? Composite? Compress? Where’s the line between fact and fiction? Does it matter anymore?

Biography: Recognized by Vanity Fair as “the Godfather behind creative nonfiction,” Gutkind is the author or editor of more than 35 books and founder and editor of Creative Nonfiction, the first and largest literary magazine to publish narrative nonfiction exclusively. He is Distinguished Writer-in-Residence in at the Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes at Arizona State University and a professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society.

Gutkind has lectured to audiences around the world—from China to the Czech Republic, from Australia to Africa to Egypt. He has presented “Writing True Stories” workshops in Washington, D.C. at the National Press Club and the National Academy of Sciences. He has appeared on many national radio and television shows, including The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central), Good Morning America, National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation and All Things Considered, as well as BBC World.