This workshop will explore the use of documentary techniques in the research, conceptualization and writing of fiction in order to enrich the writer’s craft.

We will begin by considering definitions of documentary fiction, or docufiction, a term derived from the world of cinema, and see how they might apply to fiction.

With reference to Tom Woolf’s seminal essay for Esquire on The New Journalism, which rattled the literary world in the 1960s, we will examine the advantages and disadvantages of adopting elements of the documentary in our fictional work – and discuss what twists this might have taken in our so-called post-truth era. We will think about what contradictions the hybridization of form might raise for the novelist, before examining excerpts from recent, successful novels that have implicitly or explicitly applied documentary techniques. Finally, we will drill down into their working methods in search of skills we too might borrow.

Drawing on Caroline’s first-hand experiences documenting, researching and fictionalising current and historical events, this workshop will consider sources, methods and techniques students can use to build verisimilitude in their own creative work.

The last part of the workshop will comprise one or two practical exercises designed to hone the writer’s innate documentary skills.

Caroline Brothers has a PhD in history, and worked as a foreign correspondent in Europe and Latin America for Reuters and the New York Times before moving full time into fiction. She has published a nonfiction work on documentary photography, and two deeply researched works of fiction, including The Memory Stones and the award-winning novel Hinterland, currently touring internationally as the stage adaptation, Flight.

Caroline requests that all participants read the follow source material prior to workshop:

‘The New Journalism’ by Tom Wolfe