Creative nonfiction opens a whole different world to authors who choose to take its winding path. Nonfiction, as we know, is a story that is based off of true facts or events and the word creative usually is paired with fiction writing. However, in creative nonfiction, the literary techniques and styles that are used when writing fiction are adapted to nonfiction and result in a story that almost reads like a fantasy.
When writing creative nonfiction, it does not mean using creative styles to fabricate the truth, it means using these styles to help describe true facts to more deeply engage the reader. Creative nonfiction can be used when writing a memoir, personal essay, literary journalism, or biography.
One of my favorite authors, David Sedaris, is a genius when it comes to writing creative nonfiction. Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day, and Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls are all collections of personal essays. They are funny, and extremely relatable, especially the way Sedaris sets each essay up; his use of creative literary styles truly made me feel as if I was reading a novel written about a nonfictional character.
Creative nonfiction should involve planning. It is important to focus on which sections of your memoir or personal essay you will be adapting this unconventional way or writing. Some sections that can benefit from adding creative style are the setting, character development, and voice/tone. But, be sure to hold the reader’s interest, include accurate information, and see how close you can get to the line that separates fiction and nonfiction without actually crossing it.
Recently, creative nonfiction has become one of the most popular genres in publishing and literary communities. Publishers such as Random House and HarperCollins are seeking creative nonfiction pieces more than anything else. This form of writing has also become popular in academic communities and across the world. The New Yorker and Vanity Fair are two reputable publications where creative nonfiction can be found.
Just like any other type of writing, creative nonfiction can be experimental. It may be uncomfortable at first to gate your imagination in this way, but it most definitely can be done. It is easiest to begin writing about yourself, or someone close to you, so that you are familiar with the subject and can differentiate what is fact and what is fiction. As long as the piece is focusing on the real, don’t be afraid to try different paths, there is a good chance you will end up with creative nonfiction that you are proud of.
If you would like to read more tips and the different types of pieces that creative nonfiction can be applied to, click here.