Understanding Creative Nonfiction

Creative nonfiction is also known as literary nonfiction is a genre of writing that uses literary devices such as voice/tone, character development, setting to create factually accurate narratives about real people and events in a compelling and dramatic way. The primary goal of creative nonfiction, is to share information like a reporter but to shape it in a way that reads like fiction. Some forms within this genre include memoir, personal essay, lyric essay, literary journalism, and more.

CreativeNonfiction-TopMuseThe Literary Journalism is the public side of creative nonfiction or Literature of fact (Big idea stories). It uses literary techniques to capture the scene/setting of the assignment or the persona of the person being interviewed. It has a large audience because there are no limits to the subject matter as long as it is expressed in a story-oriented narrative way. Memoir unlike literary journalism is personal because the writer owns it. It is a longer piece of creative nonfiction that takes a deep journey into the personal experience of a writer.

Personal essay is a piece of writing that focuses on a piece of writing through the lens of the personal experience of the narrator. It is usually in the first person and should be based on the personal experience of the writer. While Lyric essay is written in a poetic and musical way with the influence of imagery and description.

Creative nonfiction tries to put a dramatic spin on random everyday events thereby making it enlightening and enjoyable. In the academic community, it is the mainstream way of writing and has become the most popular genre in the literary and publishing communities.

In her book- The Art of Fact, Barbara Lounsberry suggests four constructive characteristics of creative nonfiction – Subject matter, Research, Scene and Fine writing.
Subject matter- the topics which form the subject matter are taken from real life experience and events as opposed to what is invented from the writer’s mind. There is no limit to the subject matter as long as it is expressed in a story oriented style. The Scene – this is the building block of creative nonfiction and it forms the foundation of the narrative. Writing the narrative in scenes and structure reveals the writer’s artistry.

It is key that a piece of creative writing should project a beginning, middle and end that conveys the characters, conflict and pushes action towards some form of closure or resolution.

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