Thoughts on writing UC Berkeley Extension Workshop Uncategorized Writing tips

Now I Get It — Understanding Creative Nonfiction

When I signed up for my Creative Nonfiction Workshop (internal link) I did not know writing by that name was a genre. It is. As today’s kids would say, “It’s a thing.”

I thought creative nonfiction a term to describe more creative and inventive ways to write nonfiction. That it could apply to newspaper reports, a legal brief, or an academic paper. To the contrary, it’s much more limited.

Check out Wikipedia’s definition below. The study of creative nonfiction really can’t help me with what I had in mind. Using literary styles and techniques when writing 500 word newspaper articles isn’t possible. The law has a stifling language and delivery all its own. And academic papers need to be written like every other academic paper.

Creative nonfiction comes into its own in medium to long form essays. When we are writing to entertain and enlighten with our particular writing style. It’s not there to deliver a clear message in as few words as possible. Creative nonfiction is out for a stroll, not for a run.

Creative nonfiction lends itself particularly well to personal essays and memoirs. It certainly doesn’t help with brief pieces, which is what I do most of. But it’s a definite style, it offers a new writing market and that should intrigue any writer.

“Creative nonfiction (also known as literary nonfiction or narrative nonfiction) is a genre of writing that uses literary styles and techniques to create factually accurate narratives. Creative nonfiction contrasts with other nonfiction, such as academic or technical writing or journalism, which is also rooted in accurate fact, but is not written to entertain based on writing style or florid prose. As a genre, creative nonfiction is still relatively young, and is only beginning to be scrutinized with the same critical analysis given to fiction and poetry.” Wikipedia (external link)

There’s even a magazine devoted to it: (external link)

I welcome your thoughts.


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