Posts Tagged ‘Creative Freedom’

The Basics

Before we get into the good stuff, I feel obligated to get some facts down about the genre and how you would go about writing a creative nonfiction piece.

For starters, creative nonfiction can be about ANY subject. Think of it like an essay. Only forget the five paragraphs, throw out the details that will put the reader to sleep, and hope you’ve got yourself a subject that will entertain. As long as the story comes alive for the reader, the subject possibilities are endless.

It is nonfiction so keep to events that actually happened. And maybe you can say that writing creative nonfiction is a little like writing an essay. You have to draw from your own personal experiences. Write concisely. Wrap everything up in a few pages and essentially tell a story.

But take some creative freedoms. Use descriptive language, imagery,  and symbolism. Because all the techniques normally reserved for fiction are fair game here. Dramatic story? Character development? Scene setting? By all means, bring it on. Even if details are a little fuzzy, even if something may not have occurred 100 percent how you remember it, that’s okay. The reader expects the truth, but also understands that they are reading something almost like a story. Obviously, not every minute detail can be perfect so I think a good way to put it is to say that even if it’s not gospel, it has to at least have the potential. In other words, this WOULD HAVE occurred.

And maybe the most important thing of all is the first person point of view. This is the technique that distinguishes the genre from the nonfiction shelf. With the use of “I,” creative nonfiction suddenly becomes personal and gives the writer a voice. Memories can be shared. Pictures can be painted. And it’s not just that the reader becomes informed. The reader becomes moved.

There’s not much complication to it. Creative nonfiction is a flexible thing. Over the course of the next few posts, I’m going to go deeper into the genre by looking at four different creative nonfiction writers. Some may even call them essayists. But whatever the technicality, the writers are distinct for their ability to write nonfiction…with flair.

Oh and like I said. I’m a smidge biased.  So I’ve chosen four of my favorite essayists in four of my favorite pieces. If you’re curious, too lazy to read any further, and just want to know my taste I’ll tell you. I like David Sedaris. Augusten Burroughs. Cynthia Ozick. George Orwell. And many many more. But for the sake of this blog, they’ll be the only ones I will highlight.

My sources:

Druker, P. Goals of creative nonfiction. Retrieved from http://www.class.uidaho.edu/druker/coursegoals.htm

Hally, J. (2009, October 29). What is Creative-nonfiction writing?.Retrieved from http://creative-non-fiction-writing.suite101.com/article.cfm/what_is_creative_nonfiction_writing

And it also might be helpful to click around on my blogroll where I’ve collected a few great resources for creative nonfiction.

Advertisements