Thursday, August 18, 2011

Emotion In Nonfiction

Nonfiction should be filled with facts. Nonfiction doesn't allow for as much creative writing as fiction does. There is no emotion in nonfiction.  Answers to these questions --Yes, No and No!

This morning's Kansas City Star featured a great story on the first day of school in Joplin, Missouri. As almost anyone who doesn't live in a cave knows, Joplin was hit with a killer tornado three months ago--on the day of high school graduation. After three months of clean-up with the assistance of many outside groups, the town and its people are moving on.

The front page story was filled with facts, but the writer incorporated creative writing and emotion into the story. I finished reading and felt my heart touched and wrenched at the same time.

Click on the link in the paragraph above and read the story for yourself. Read it twice. Once to learn about what the first day of school was like in this now well-known community. Then read it again from a writers's perspective to see what the article writer did to cause your heart to be touched.

When nonfiction spotlights the human element of what could have been just a factual account, emotion comes into play. When a writer hammers out creative nonfiction, readers can relate to whatever the situation might be. Maybe they haven't experienced exactly the same things, but they can have a better understanding. The individual stories of some of the survivors of the tornado can be classified as creative nonfiction.

Look at some of your own nonfiction stories and ask yourself the three questions:
1.  Is it factual?
2.  Can it be called creative nonfiction?
3.  Is there emotion in the writing?

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