Writing Creative Nonfiction

By Sally Park and Nishka Dalmia

(Nishka)


‘Creative non-fiction’ is a paradox in itself. While people tend to think that creative necessarily implies using of imagination to make something unique or surreal, I believe, the word encompasses a wide world within it which doesn’t explicitly require the use of imagination to create something non-existent. Hence, creative and non-fiction are more compatible than you think.

The difference between a non-fictional piece and a ‘creative’ non- fictional piece is solely the way it is written. While the facts drive a non-fictional piece, the authenticity and the music of the writer’s writing drive a creative non-fictional piece.

Since we can’t tamper with facts in this particular writing style, what makes CNF interesting to a reader? Why would a reader want to read a memoir? While some life experiences can be diverting, many those which are written are rather grey. How then, do they become bestsellers?

CNF is a very tricky genre to say the least. A writer has to present all the facts without alter and still make it make it a compulsive read. While searching to the answer to the above posed question, I wondered why, I as a reader, would read this genre? I then realized, that I read it because CNF is like poetry. It tells you simple truths of life. It puts inexplicable feelings into words so beautifully that the entire experience becomes so surreal. Consequently, I try to include as much authenticity and insight into my writing to make it that much more relatable to the writer.

CNF is a very popular genre amongst many. And one of the prime reason for that is that a creative non-fictional piece gives you a very humane and wonderful insight to the most mundane of things in a very exciting way. It is not just mere facts describing the when and the where of a happening but the entire brain mechanism of the writer during the happening.

(Sally)


When beginning to write creative nonfiction, you must take into consideration the message you would like to convey through your writing. What is the significance of your story? Why is this story relevant to the reader? What new insight could your piece offer to the world? Arguably the most beautiful attribute about creative nonfiction is that you are given the power to influence the reader in the utmost personal and intricate matter. With every word and sentence, aim to personally form a connection with the reader through your story. The stronger the connection you can form with the reader, the more impactful and effective your story can be.


But perhaps the most important aspect of writing a creative nonfiction piece is that you are genuine and honest throughout. You may passively exaggerate certain details and events in your story in hopes of creating a more engaging piece of writing. However, by doing so, it would instead lessen the impact and effectiveness of your story. Readers would ultimately be able to sense the ingenuity of your story and question the validity of it as well. Keep in mind that your story is unique and engaging because it is your story. No other individual could attempt to replicate your writing because it is a personal event that occurred to you only, and the commentary present in your story should be reflective of your unique personality and mentality.


This being said, do not stray away from using literary styles and techniques throughout your piece. A key component of creative nonfiction is the mentality you undergo while experiencing the events within the story. Express such components of your mentality through literary styles and techniques to artistically represent the intricacy of your thought process within the experiences of the story. Show the reader who you are so that by the end of the story, your reader has a fair idea of who you are as a person. As previously mentioned, a strong connection with the reader is vital in creating an effective piece of creative nonfiction, and by expressing your honest and true self, you can further the connection the reader has with you.


The stories of the events we have experienced, the lessons we have learned, and the life-changing moments we have endured are enough to radically change the perceptions that other people have acquired throughout their life. Creative nonfiction offers new and compelling insights that readers can learn from and apply to their own lives. For these reasons, creative nonfiction has become arguably one of the most influential forms of writing to exist. From every word to every sentence, remind yourself of your message, your mentality, and most of all, your truth.

Sally Park is a First Reader at Polyphony Lit and a blogger at Voices.


Nishka Dalmia is a First Reader at Polyphony Lit and a blogger at Voices.