I’ve wrestled with the definition of literature in previous posts. As well as trying to define creative nonfiction. 1966: A Journal of Creative Nonfiction, gives us this definition which, when broadened, could include literature as well:
The best definition we’ve heard so far for “creative nonfiction” comes from editor and writer Lee Gutkind: the word “creative” in “Creative Nonfiction” “refers simply to the use of literary craft in presenting nonfiction—that is, factually accurate prose about real people and events—in a compelling, vivid manner.” Instead of making things up, a creative nonfiction writer simply makes ideas, people, events, and places that already exist more compelling through the use of imagery, scene, form, dialogue, setting, characterization, plot, and detail.
Some people object to the term “creative nonfiction” and prefer the term “literary nonfiction,” or prefer to simply refer to various kinds of writing by their subgenre: narrative journalism, lyric essay, personal essay, nature writing, etc.
Literature, therefore, might be artistically done writing that employs “imagery, scene, form, dialogue, setting, characterization, plot, and detail” to their best use. What 1966 calls “literary craft.” It does all seem a bit fuzzy. But we can work on it, producing nonfiction and fiction that aspires to something more than mere reporting, something that produces not just writing, but fine writing.
My thoughts on creative nonfiction (internal link)
What is literature? Part 1 (internal link)
1966: Creative Nonfiction Journal (external link) Site may no longer be active.