Sunday, September 20, 2009

Creative Nonfiction Is More Than Only Facts

One of the most daunting aspects of writing nonfiction is that you cannot make it up. You're stuck with the facts of what happened. The fiction writer can live in a land of make-believe, but the nonfiction writer must be true to the events as they happened.

But the writing need not be boring. On the contrary, nonfiction stories can be made interesting and provide emotional appeal as well. They are not only a list of factual reporting of something that occurred. They are about real happenings and real people.

The writer can bring in setting, can create a visual image of the people involved, and can bring many sensory details into the writing of a nonfiction piece. When we do this, we're writing creative nonfiction.

My story, "Squeals and Squeezes" appeared in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book. The story relates a simple event I witnessed, something that happened in a matter of a couple of minutes. A soldier home on leave, a toddler, a game of Hide-and-Seek at a country club reception. All facts. When I added some characteristics of the players, the way the dad hugged the child once he'd found him, and my own feelings, this tiny slice of life became a publishable piece of nonfiction--creative nonfiction.

Try taking a factual report from a newspaper and rewriting it as if you had witnessed the event. By using the technique of creative nonfiction, you'll bring a story to life and make it something the reader will remember for a long time.

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