Creative Nonfiction

When I started my blog a few months ago, I wasn’t sure what I would write about or what my writing style would be. Most of the writing I had done up to that point was technical writing that involved summarizing research and other educational writing and explaining how I use certain philosophies and methodologies in my classroom (Teaching Writing in Kindergarten, Teaching Reading in Kindergarten). The purpose of starting the blog was to encourage me to write more often and to try some new styles of writing.

One of the first things I had to do was choose a name for my blog, which proved difficult since I had no idea what it would be about. Nor had I, at that point, read any other blogs. The various purposes of blogging, what blogs look like, and how the title of a blog affects who is attracted to it were all foreign to me. I’m intrigued that though I didn’t know at the time what my writing style would be and had never, really, heard my voice before, that I chose what I did.

 A STRING OF PEARLS

Stories*Memories*Insights

 

Somehow I knew I wouldn’t be writing much fiction, that my content would come from real life experiences, past and present.

I have since then learned that the style of writing I tend to use most is an actual genre with a name. It’s a rather new genre, but it’s gaining popularity and making nonfiction much more enjoyable to read.

In the book You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction from Memoir to Literary Journalism and Everything In Between, Lee Gutkind provides a quick definition of this style of writing as “true stories well told” (p. 6).

He expounds by saying that “creative” and “nonfiction” describe this form of writing. Nonfiction—factually accurate prose about real people and events—is presented creatively—in a compelling, vivid, dramatic manner. The goal, he says, is to make nonfiction stories read like fiction so that readers are as enthralled by fact as they are by fantasy.

It’s easy to see why this genre is so powerful. Most of us would rather learn about a historical event, a new concept, or someone’s take on this world in which we live through the use of story.

Some of my favorite nonfiction books are written in this style.

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage

Half Broke Horses: A True Life Novel

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

Strength in What Remains

The Bookseller of Kabul

The Glass Castle

The Woman Who Wasn’t There: The True Story of an Incredible Deception

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

Zeitoun

It doesn’t surprise me that the style of writing I’ve slipped into fits this category. Though I am somewhat creative, I cannot make up entire stories, cannot come up with compelling plots. Plus, there are plenty of real-life characters and perfectly true and interesting stories happening around me every day.

To write creative nonfiction, all I have to do is wake up, go about my day, be extra observant and thoughtful, and consider the significance of what is happening around me.

Using this style of writing, I am able to write pieces, essays, and blogs faster than I would be able to write fiction. There is no need to think about how the dialogue might go, what will happen next in the plot, or how the story ends. Everything already happened; all I have to do is type the words, being sure to include important details that bring my reader into the scene and exclude anything that is not relevant.

The next part, revealing the significance of daily events, is more difficult. The import of what’s going on around me is not always clear. In fact, sometimes I don’t realize what it is that’s moving me until I start to write and the piece unfolds. As I write, I pay attention to my feelings and discover, through the process and my words, why this story has value to me, as the writer, and how it might affect my readers.

Some examples of my own creative nonfiction are:

The Girl Down the Street

Dying on My Street

The Lockdown

One of the best benefits of blogging, to me, is realizing how very much is going on around me and just how noteworthy it all is.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. theclocktowersunset
    Oct 03, 2013 @ 06:27:42

    Noteworthy indeed, and entertaining as well….. 🙂

    Reply

  2. blogmundson101
    Oct 03, 2013 @ 20:47:38

    Agreed. When I am writing a story I think the biggest challenge and greatest reward is being able to slow down a situation and notice what is happening in that moment and, as you say, get rid of anything not relevant. Thank you for the book ideas.

    Reply

    • Randee
      Oct 03, 2013 @ 20:51:00

      You are welcome for the book ideas. They are all amazing! Listing them made me realize how much less I am reading (fewer books, but more blogs) since starting this blog and writing more frequently. If only there were more hours in the day… Thank you for your comment.

      Reply

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