Why Creative Nonfiction? Nonfiction Plus

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In some ways, creative nonfiction is like jazz—it’s a rich mix of flavors, ideas, and techniques, some newly invented and others as old as writing itself. Creative nonfiction can be an essay, a journal article, a research paper, a memoir, a tweet; it can be personal or not, or it can be all of these.
1. Why
2. Creative. Nonfiction.
● Until recently, “creative” in writing has meant
poetry, drama, and fiction; “nonfiction” has
meant journalism, business writing, academic
scholarship, and car manuals.
● Put together, “creative” plus “nonfiction”
produces a synergy that attracts fiction and
nonfiction writers alike.
3. Nonfiction Plus
The world of creative nonfiction is not invented.
Events actually took place; characters are real people.
The writer, who is handed the facts, must find the
story within them and tell it true, ambiguities and all.
In fiction, you can change, pretend, and invent to be
In creative nonfiction, you must locate and shape
what is interesting in the messiness of real life.
Interesting is key. It is not enough to report,
summarize, and analyze the facts; creative nonfiction
also values storytelling, voice, and evocative
language to illuminate those facts, making readers
connect experientially, as if they were there.
4. Creative Nonfiction defined by
The vertical-striped cushions in early ‘70s green and brown are hard and don’t give muh after three
Professor emari DiGiorgio:
hours, yet there’s something nostalgic about the couch where I have sat for so many writing courses--
and hot it triggers memories….
The Couch is real. I’ve scribbled in the inked grooves of the wooden armrest to my right, written “Hi
Joe!” to a friend who sits here in another class. I’ve run my fingers over the cloth and felt the fabrics
worn away by time and other young writers. Creative Nonfiction is real, or at least most of it. In my
portfolio, Celeste really drove the pick-up at age eight, and my mother believed that TR-7 would flip if
she drove on uneven pavement. But as with any literary genre, my view is limited, the details chosen
and molded to bring out something more than just what happened.
What girl may have sat where I sit now, once crushed by comments on her work? Perhaps a new
mother napped on this couche, exhausted with her schoolwork and new child. There are so many
stories to tell, but one must choose and then find the way to retell it to generate interest in other
readers… Perhaps, I’m finally starting to get comfortable on this couch.
5. Umbrella
Creative nonfiction is an umbrella
that covers everything from
childhood memoir to narrative
journalism. In between are personal
essay, portrait, lyric essay, travel
memoir, nature writing, visual essay,
opinion essay, investigative memoir,
an all nonfiction that values language,
voice, memory, research, and
imagination to recreate the real world.
6. Creative nonfiction as
❖ An allegiance to veracity,
❖an umbrella
An engaging voice that Term
gives drawing on fact to write truthfully
about the real world and drawing
personal authority to the
on memory and imagination to
writing and pulls in the show us this world in full color. If
reader whether the “I” is at you are changing or inventing
the center of the text or on facts to make a better story, you
the sidelines. are writing fiction. If you are
❖ A desire for self-exploration using existing facts as you
and discovery, whether experienced them, you are
writing creative nonfiction.
writing about yourself or ❖ A commitment to be interesting,
others. Often the writer’s using a full range of storytelling
mind at work is as devices-- dialogue, description,
interesting as the subject metaphor, anecdote, character
matter, creating a tension development-- to draw your
that is key to success in this reader into the writing.
❖ An ability, as essayist Cynthia
Ozick says, to find “the
❖ A fine-tuned sense of the
extraordinary in the ordinary” so
rhythms of language. that the small things in life
❖ A freedom in form and illuminate the big ideas that
language to go wherever make readers care.
7. Types of Creative
Memoir Personal Portrait
Stories about a
slice of life as
Focus less on a story
of past experience
Makes a person
other than the “I”
opposed to and more on come alive on the
autobiography exploring some page. Can be about
that tells the aspect of the here- someone we know
whole story from and-now, which well or about
the day of birth to often includes someone we’ve just
the present. Relies connections to the met and/or read
heavily on past. about.
8. Types of Creative
Essay of Opinion Narrative
Captures setting or Essay
Aim to persuade. Journalism
a series of scenes You’ll find them on Combines
by combining the op=-ed pages investigative
factual information, of newspapers, reporting with
strong sensory and many are personal voice,
detail, a story line, based on facts and storytelling, and
and the writer’s figures. memorable
point of view. language.
9. Citation:
Writing True: the Art and Craft of Creative Nonfiction.
Wadsworth/Cengage Learning, 2014.
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