Creative Nonfiction

A genre that contains many other genres…

The lines can blur and it can sometimes be hard to tell which way to categorize your writing if you are a creative nonfiction writer. I often struggle with where my writing fits in. Memoirs, personal essays, travel writing and the like have come to be considered as creative nonfiction. In my opinion, empowerment books — books that often tell the “struggle to triumph” story of the author — are creative nonfiction. The author is telling the story of how they came from X to become or do Y and how you too can be successful in the same vein. However, there has to be creativity in telling that story.

Without employing the nuances of creative writing, your nonfiction story is going to be dry, dull, and flat. A writer must embellish their story to keep it interesting, without changing the actual facts of the story. And by embellish, I don’t mean to add in non-truths or sensationalize the story; I simply mean using words and descriptions in such a way that the story maintains the interest of the reader. This is creative nonfiction.

Creative nonfiction combines the creative mind of a fiction writer with the aptitude for relaying fact in great detail as in journalism. A journalist must report the facts. She also must report the facts in such a way that she keeps the readers’ interest. Think of a memoir. The author is relating a memory from a slice of time in his life. The memory’s details are accurately recalled. The descriptions and telling of that recollection is done such that the reader is transported into the location where the memory is being recalled from. The two — detail and description — meld together seamlessly and shape the final work…

As a writer of creative nonfiction, it is important that you stick to the facts. It is also important that you keep the reader reading page-by-page and not skipping through. Author Iyanla Vanzant uses very colorful depictions of the struggles she’s had in life. She keeps the reader engaged and interested, while still maintaining the true details of what she went through. Now don’t shoot me — I have never researched whether or not the stories Ms. Vanzant relays in her books are truly what happened to her in her life. I take her word for it, as most readers take the word of the author who has written the words. Nonetheless, her books do a few things well —

  1. They give the “struggle to triumph” details accurately.
  2. They relate the story in a way which keeps the reader reading.
  3. They empower the reader to ACT.

Very important in creative nonfiction — accurately reporting the details, keeping the reader’s attention, and empowerment. Ms. Vanzant has Written to Inspire and Nuture. She W.I.N.s and her readers do too!

For those who want to inspire people, if you want to empower people, if you want to nudge someone gently into action, then creative nonfiction is an excellent genre in which to write.