What is Creative Nonfiction?
Creative nonfiction is a popular category choice on deviantaART, and its one of those forms of writing we're exposed to on a much greater scale than perhaps we realise. Creative Nonfiction doesn't mean exaggerating, but making real stories well written. Examples can be found in news articles, biographies, literary journalism, travel/food writing and even personal essays. The scale of what Creative nonfiction covers is large, but its all about good execution that makes this form of writing effective.
I sometimes find it easier to start these kind subjects to discuss firstly what the subject isn't. In a generalisation, there are many people who assume that creative nonfiction is a chance to rant about your real life in an informal way and consider it as creative writing. It is also not technical writing, which falls into its own genre. However, Creative nonfiction goes into a much deeper style of writing, turning those rants into something genuinely creative- created not just for personal expound, but to entertain or move your readers. As most forms of writing, your audience plays a key role. Here is a more expert definition:
One of my favorite words to attach to the art of creative nonfiction writing is the word “actual.” I prefer the word actual to the word truth. Fiction writers insist that they too write the truth, and that they must invent in order to tell this truth. I prefer the word actual to the word fact. Facts alone are too dry, and too absent of association. I prefer the word actual to the word real. What is and is not real is continually up for grabs. Do we know, for instance, what is a real woman? A real man? The word real is too laden with assumption. I prefer the word actual because it refers to simple actuality. We begin a work of creative nonfiction not with the imaginary but with the actual, with what actually is or actually was, or what actually happened. From this point we might move in any direction, but the actual is our touchstone. Barriejeanborich
The term "creative nonfiction" is a simple mashup of two very familiar concepts interlocking to create one form. By "Creative" we mean being able to use the same concepts in writing as you would in normal creative writing- its the good creativity that creates a good rapport with your audience, keeping their interest in your writing. It's what encourages the interest in the facts.
The word “creative” has been criticized in this context because some people have maintained that being creative means that you pretend or exaggerate or make up facts and embellish details. This is completely incorrect. It is possible to be honest and straightforward and brilliant and creative at the same time.
"Creative” doesn’t mean inventing what didn’t happen, reporting and describing what wasn’t there. It doesn’t mean that the writer has a license to lie. The cardinal rule is clear—and cannot be violated. This is the pledge the writer makes to the reader—the maxim we live by, the anchor of creative nonﬁction: “You can’t make this stuff up!” Creativenonfiction.org
Perhaps an easier term for us all to understand, "Non-fiction" simply means accurate and factual. The writing needs to have a baseline of reality to it and that baseline remain continuous in the piece.
Types of Creative Nonfiction
Travel and Food Writing
Questions for the reader:
What examples of creative nonfiction have you found, both offline and on deviantART that you've enjoyed?
What do you think makes those pieces effective?
Have you tried writing any creative nonfiction yourself? What was your experience like?