HOW TO WRITE LIKE JOAN DIDION
MAY 22, 2015
The Key to writing like Joan Didion is to combine detailed, thorough description with a hint of biting irony. This primer is for both fiction writers and journalists who are struggling to make their work more interesting. Luckily, Didion can elevate the mundane and deflate illusions of grandeur, all in one essay. For this article, I will be using examples from her collected nonfiction, We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live.
Joan Didion was born in Sacramento, California in 1934, and has written many works of fiction and nonfiction the chronicle life in the state. She looked at the insanity of Haight-Ashbury in the 1960s, the rise of militant subcultures like the Black Panther Party and the Manson “family, as well as the intersection of bureaucracy, rebellion and politics. In her later years, her work has become far more personal, with books like The Year of Magical Thinking detailing the sudden death of her daughter and her husband. Didion was also associated with the “New Journalism” movement popularized by Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Wolfe, but her style differs significantly from their work.