ENGL 2013: Essay Writing

This course introduces students to the study and writing of creative nonfiction. This guide is designed as a resource to help you research.

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Molly Boyd
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Creative Nonfiction

"The Creative Nonfiction (CNF) genre can be rather elusive. It is focused on the story, meaning it has a narrative plot with an inciting moment, rising action, climax and denouement, just like fiction. However, nonfiction only works if the story is based in truth, an accurate retelling of the author’s life experiences. The pieces can vary greatly in length, just as fiction can; anything from a book-length autobiography to a 500-word food blog post can fall within the genre.

Additionally, the genre borrows some aspects, in terms of voice, from poetry; poets generally look for truth and write about the realities they see. While there are many exceptions to this, such as the persona poem, the nonfiction genre depends on the writer’s ability to render their voice in a realistic fashion, just as poetry so often does. Writer Richard Terrill, in comparing the two forms, writes that the voice in creative nonfiction aims “to engage the empathy” of the reader; that, much like a poet, the writer uses “personal candor” to draw the reader in.

Creative Nonfiction encompasses many different forms of prose. As an emerging form, CNF is closely entwined with fiction. Many fiction writers make the cross-over to nonfiction occasionally, if only to write essays on the craft of fiction. This can be done fairly easily, since the ability to write good prose—beautiful description, realistic characters, musical sentences—is required in both genres."

From "Overview Of Creative Nonfiction // Purdue Writing Lab". Purdue Writing Lab, 2020, https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/subject_specific_writing/creative_writing/creative_nonfiction/index.html. Accessed 16 Oct 2020.

Examples of Creative Nonfiction Titles