Imagining History, or Creating True Scenes You’ve Never Seen

No matter what type of creative writing you pursue–fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry–a compelling scene can deepen the reader’s immersion in your words. In two weeks I’ll be giving a lecture at my final Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing residency titled Imagining History: Creating True Scenes You’ve Never Seen. I’ve provided a teaser of that lecture at K.M. Weiland’s blog Wordplay: Helping Writers Become Authors, with a guest post titled “Writing Scenes You Haven’t Seen.”

A significant focus of mine as a creative nonfiction writer is learning how biographers make use of the tools of scene–senses, detail, even dialogue–to bring to life true stories from history that the authors never witnessed.  These biographers walk a fine line between fact and fiction, with some differences of opinion among them on where that line resides. My lecture explores that aspect of biography in a way I didn’t have the ability to discuss in my short Wordplay post. VCFA, however, does make available audio recordings of graduating student lectures a short time after they’re given, so if anyone is interested, I’ll post a link to it when it’s available; I will, that is, if I feel the lecture goes well enough to share!

In the meantime, feel free to see my piece on Wordplay and let me know your thoughts.

5 thoughts on “Imagining History, or Creating True Scenes You’ve Never Seen

  1. Patrick,
    I’m working on a memoir that will need historical scenes so this post has me wanting more of what you plan to say next Saturday. Best of luck, and hope you will post the link. PS: I’m signed up to take your blogging course through the Loft, and really looking forward to it. I need all the help I can get on it as well!


    1. Hi Ginny,

      First of all, I’m glad you found this of value. I’ll be letting Artist’s Road readers know when the lecture is available for download, it will be some time in July. And I’m thrilled you’re going to be in the course! It starts two days after I graduate! 🙂


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  3. Looking forward to this lecture, Patrick. Tomorrow morning I’m sneaking out of my genre (poetry) and attending that lecture on crime fiction.

    Shoot, I just realized that this IS “tomorrow morning.”



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