T.R.’S PRIMER ON CREATIVE
NONFICTION

Creative
nonfiction is the hot new genre; everyone’s writing it.  At least they think they are.  Just to clear up the confusion, your friend
T.R. is here to tell you what it means.

Creative
nonfiction, sometimes called “literary journalism,” is the use of fictional
techniques to tell a true story. 
Consider Truman Capote’s In Cold
Blood
.  It reads like a novel,
complete with chapters, vivid descriptions, and character development.  But the gruesome events really happened.

Here are some
genre examples.

Nonfiction: 

This
morning at
8:10 I told my children to get in the car.  Once in the van, they fussed and argued about
who would sit where, who had stepped on whose foot, and whether they needed
jackets.  I had to tell them repeatedly
to buckle their seatbelts, because they weren’t listening to me.

Creative
nonfiction:

“I
don’t want to sit next to you, Tigger!” 
Little Bit stood in the middle of the van and stomped her foot.

“So
sit in the second row.”  Ever-cool Tigger,
seated in the back, opened a book.

“But
I want to sit in the back!”  Little Bit’s
voiced inched higher with each exclamation.

“Whatever.  I’m sitting here.”

“Tigger!  Little Bit! 
Sit down and buckle your seatbelts!” 
I revved up the engine.  The music
came on loud.  I lowered the volume so
the kids could hear me yell at them.

“OWWW!  Little Bit stepped on my foot!” Tigger began
to cry.

“I
did not!”

“SIT
DOWN AND BUCKLE YOUR SEATBELTS!”

“Mommy,”
Tigger sniffled, “I’m cold.  Can you go
back in the house and get my jacket?”

“You
don’t need a jacket, Tigger.  It’s hot in
here.”  Little Bit finally chose a seat.

“I
was talking to Mommy!”

“Buckle
your seatbelt Little Bit.”  I turned off
the engine and got out of the car.  We
might get to school by tomorrow.

 Note: it doesn’t
have to be all dialogue.  That’s just the
fictional device I chose for this illustration.

FICTION:

“Tigger,
go on out there and hitch up the horses.” 
I tossed the remains of breakfast out in the pig trough.  “Come and git it,” I told the old sow.

“Mama,”
Tigger protested, “it’s Little Bit’s turn to hitch the horses.  I’m still tired out from plowing the fields
yesterday.”

“Girl,
you know she’s too little.  Git on out
there, you hear?”  I bent down to buckle
Little Bit’s boots.

“I
wanna hitch the horses, Mama!  I want
to!”  Little Bit pulled her foot away
before the boot was buckled.

“Put
your foot back here, child.  Them horses
would step on your head, you’re so little.”

So there you have
it.  This message has been brought to you
by the Society of Procrastinators (SOP).  We will now return T.R. to her work.  Go forth and write.


 

 

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17 thoughts on “

  1. I read the blog, but somehow the words, “Hey I’m writing here,” I say to the employee who jsut interuppted my train of thought.
    “But we had a meeting 10 minutes ago…” she trails off as she sees the look in my eyes and that I am not amused.
    “I’ll be there in a minute” I get her to leave and now have no idea at all what I was going to say…….

  2. As the massive robot lumbered away from the flying saucer, preparing to wreak havoc upon humanity, Tigger bravely ran up and shouted “Gort!  Klatuu barada nicto!”  The world was saved.
    Meanwhile, Little Bit sheathed her light saber.  Standing over the defeated Darth Vader, she said, “You are NOT my daddy!”
    Oh wait, that’s Science Fiction.  Never mind.

  3. You also forgot Documentary Non-Fiction.
    Bass-voiced narrator:
    “It was a seemingly ordinary winter morning on January 5th, 2006.  TR loaded her children, Tigger and Little Bit, into the running minivan, and headed toward the driver’s seat.  There was a feeling of anxiety and aggression in the backseat from the cabin-fevered children, and Tigger sustained a minor foot injury as the two children fought over their seats.  But not long after they headed off to school, the family made a horrifying discovery…
    Tigger forgot her coat!”  *dramatic theme music*  Duh duh DUH
    And, of course, Reality TV Non-Fiction…
    TR:  I tell you, those kids are sending me to the nuthouse!  First, they can’t decide which seats they want, *overdubbed scene in the van “Kids, will you SHUT THE F*beep*CK UP?!”* then Tigger wanted me to go ALL THE WAY BACK for her coat!  And it’s actually warm out!  God!
    Little Bit:  Tigger is always hogging the back seat.  IT’S NOT FAIR!  I should be able to sit there sometimes if I want!  I didn’t want to sit next to Tigger.  She keeps kicking me, and hogging the whole seat.  That’s why I stepped on her foot!
    Tigger: Little Bit is always trying to take my seat in the van.  She doesn’t care where she sits, she just wants my seat!  IT ISN’T FAIR!  And Mommy doesn’t care, she just yells at us.  And I was cold, and Mommy didn’t want to go back for my coat.  *sniff*  And my foot still hurts.  *sticks out bottom lip*

  4. I just came here, read your good writing, tried with the fogg filled brain to diferentiate between the three things. However, you said get out of bed, so here I am germing up my sreen and passing it through. SO don’t come crying to me when you get the flu of death, Got to puke now see ya.If you were nice you would send virtual soup, I know you can make it.

  5. I love creative non-fiction. I always thought that essays were included in that genre also. Seems the Confession magazines have been doing that for years. Some of it’s non-fiction, they say…. LOL

  6. Just for me it’s easier to write without worrying about what label to put on it. If I had to worry about what box it fits in that would be too much like writing an assignment for school and that deflates the fun factor.  

  7. Now I suppose you are gonna tell me that people get paid $$$ for what they write. Like that’s even remotely true. All successful authors are in reality computerized bots with MS Word implanted directly into their microprocessors. That’s why human poets usually all commit suicide.

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