Creative Non-Fiction

Creative non-fiction…sounds a little like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? When you think of non-fiction, you usually think of hard, cold facts, executive summaries, scientific analyses, hypotheses, statistics, university assignments and other such forms of writing. Of course, these examples do all belong in the non-fiction aisle but they aren’t its entirety. For years, I thought of professional writing as a two-sided coin: creative fiction and uncreative non-fiction, stories versus essays, arts versus sciences. However, the wide world of writing cannot be separated so definitely into black and white for there are a myriad of writing styles that amalgamate both genres. For example, creative non-fiction.

I am a creative, expressive writer who likes to embellish and describe but when it comes to dialogue and characterisation, integral aspects of fiction, I am completely and totally inept. Character and plot are not my forte and for a long while, I felt lost in my monochrome perception of literary genres. If unable to write fiction, how was I ever to channel my flair and love for creative writing? The answer became clear upon subscribing to the New Yorker magazine and the New York Times daily newspaper. Both of these publications opened my mind to the idea that non-fiction can be colourful, creative and imaginative while still retaining real, fascinating and important content.

The New Yorker, a well respected magazine of the Condé Nast group, exemplifies sublime and creative non-fiction. Articles discussing film, theatre, dining, philosophy, the underbelly of politics, books and the world colour its pages and do so with flair, professionalism and innovative writing. Likewise, the New York Times, while featuring very factual and political articles, also celebrates creative non-fiction with genres devoted to the arts, theatre, travel, dining, fashion and literature. The ‘Movies’ section for example, is less about statistical analysis and direct quotations and more  about opinionated reviews on films, the emotive power of the latest drama and the very subjective world of cinematic evolution. Yes, creative non-fiction is out there and it is a wonderful thing to read.

As an eighteen year old girl, out of high school but yet to attend university, I am understandably at a confusing and uncertain fork in the road of my life. I have very diverse but specific interests; I love the dramatic arts: the theatre, acting, directing, film but I also love words: books, magazines, newspapers, blogs. Since around the beginning of my senior year, I spent hours upon days weighing my options. Should I attend an acting school or go to university? Should I pursue drama or get a degree in writing? Neither path seemed entirely satisfying as both excluded the other, a sacrifice I wasn’t willing to make for either area of interest. But alas, I have found a solution: creative non-fiction. The world of creative, imaginative and colourful journalism opens to the door to writing about film, books and travel (my three greatest loves). You may be thinking, ‘Why on earth didn’t she think of that before?’ But you must understand, that for so many years and throughout all of my research of Australian university courses, creative writing and non-fiction have been kept very separate and due to my lack of plot and character proficiency, I never considered the realm of creative writing as an option in spite of my distaste for the bland world of tasteless non-fiction. Creative non-fiction however, is the best of both worlds.

Tell me, Readers, what your thoughts are on the subject of creative non-fiction. Do you like fiction, scientific pieces of writing, imaginative journalism or a mixture of all that the written word has to offer? Also, if anyone has any ideas or recommendations as to how best one could harness a love of creative non-fiction, do be a honey and share your sweet knowledge!

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5 thoughts on “Creative Non-Fiction

  1. Love this concept! Although the New Yorker is definitely in this category, the best example of “creative non-fiction” I can think of is definitely some of the essays of Virginia Woolf. She had an incredible talent for metaphor and image which she used to describe concepts in even her most expository work. Her book / series of talks published as A Room of One’s Own is brilliant in that regard.

    • Oh thank you! Funnily enough, I first came across the title ‘A Room of One’s Own’ on a Penguin Book style mug just yesterday. I will definitely add it to my ‘Books to Read in 2012’ list as I simply adore creative non-fiction. I think it’s so powerful when an author can successfully combine creativity and fact. Thank you for your comment!

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