by Kori Miller
Creative non-fiction, also known as, literary or narrative non-fiction, is a fast-growing genre that includes:
- personal essays (small idea story based on the author’s experiences; short form; limited audience)
- literary journalism (big idea stories – anyone can research and write these; mass appeal)
- memoirs (small idea stories based on the author’s experiences; long form; more limited audience than literary journalism)
Some editors only want literary journalism pieces because of their mass appeal, but a number of creative non-fiction journals, on-line and in print, want both. Skirt Magazine and Brevity are two examples, but a simple search of Writer’s Market (a Writer’s Digest subscription service) yields many more opportunities.
How can non-fiction be creative?
The words “creative” and “nonﬁction” describe the form. The word “creative” refers to the use of literary craft, the techniques ﬁction writers, playwrights, and poets employ to present nonﬁction—factually accurate prose about real people and events—in a compelling, vivid, dramatic manner. The goal is to make nonﬁction stories read like ﬁction so that your readers are as enthralled by fact as they are by fantasy. – Lee Gutkind, You Can’t Make This Stuff Up
Why write creative non-fiction?
We all know that “truth is stranger than fiction,” and it draws the reader in. And the advice, “write what you know,” is a perfect fit for this genre! Personally, I find it easier to write creative non-fiction than fiction, because I know the story so well!
A great starting point for more information and useful examples is Creative Non-fiction.
Sit down. Describe one scene, a conversation, a person, a moment in time or some other small experience that you think contains some larger meaning (you might not know what it is, that’s okay.) Capture as many details as possible. Set it down. When you return to the piece, analyze it. Is there an image that resonates or repeats? What is the emotional core of the piece? What “feels” like the beginning or the end? Do you see anything — ideas, emotions, attitudes — changing, developing, or evolving over the course of the draft? Make a note of these.
- Why, of all the things I could have written about, did I write about this?
- Where and how might readers identify with the larger meaning of the piece?
Start cutting and rearranging. What you should end up with is a piece that demonstrates the careful thought, controlled language, and limited focus of a personal essay. – Prof. John T. Price at University of Nebraska-Omaha
- For Pain or Gain: Tips for Writing Meaningful Nonfiction (sharelovestory.wordpress.com)
- March 26: Book of the Week: Fine Lines Literary Journal (backporchwriter.wordpress.com)
- Creative Non-Fiction – What the Hell Is That? (strangelittledreams.wordpress.com)
- Noted: Gutkind on nonfiction’s truth (richardgilbert.me)