Thursday, January 11, 2018

A Field Guide for Immersion Writing by Robin Hemley

As I was preparing for last year's trip to England, I started looking for travel-related books. One of the books that caught my eye was A Field Guide for Immersion Writing and even though it wasn't a travel guide/memoir, I decided to read it.

The book is divided into five chapters (six sections, if you count the introduction). The introduction introduces the concept of immersion writing, chapter one talks about the immersion memoir, chapter two is about immersion journalism, chapter three about travel writing, chapter four about ethics and legal considerations, and chapter five about story (book and magazine) proposals. Each chapter ends with exercises for the reader.

Personally, the introduction felt a little scatter-shot and I briefly considered abandoning the book, but I was hooked in the first chapter. The definition of the immersion memoir, which I really liked, is that “the immersion memoirist is interested in self-revelation or evaluation while using the outside world as his/her vehicle.” Basically, you’re looking at yourself by looking at outside events.

The first three chapters basically go through the different types of immersion writing in these similar but not identical genres. No matter if you’re a memoirist, travel writer, or journalist, if you’re doing immersion writing, you can divide immersion writing into five categories:

1. Re-enactment
2. Experiment
3. Infiltration
4. Investigation (for memoirs, this is more for biographies than autobiographies)
5. Quest

Through this book, I’ve realised that a lot of books that I’ve read are immersion writing, and I enjoy most of it. Of course, there are a lot more books that I haven’t read and I could see my TBR list growing as I read (hopefully I can get to them soon).

If you’re interested in what this genre of writing is about and you’re looking for books to read (or you want to write a book yourself), you should definitely read this.


  1. I don't know if this book would be for me, but just from your description of immersion writing, I have a feeling that would be something that came more naturally to me in some ways than other types of writing. This sounds interesting, Eustacia.

    1. I'm not sure if you'd like the latter half of the book, which is more of how to sell the story, but I think you'd like the explanation of what immersion writing is!


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