Tips for Writing Creative Nonfiction
Creative nonfiction – definition
Creative nonfiction typically derives its meaning from the two words: creative meaning the craft of writing and nonfiction meaning facts or that which is real and true. As mentioned, creative nonfiction is a factually accurate narrative that is written using literary styles and techniques. A creative nonfiction can be personal where the writer describes his or her own experiences, an essay, a research paper, an article or just simply a poem but which is distinguished from other forms of the same writing by the key factor that the text describes true and actually factual events.
Genres of fiction
Fiction basically describes imaginative narrative, that is, one that is made up by the writer hence is neither true nor factual. There are a number of genres of fiction, but the major ones are:
- Literary fiction – this category is distinct due to the exemplary writing skills that the writer uses to express him or herself including the literary styles and techniques, language used, creativity and originality of the narrative with a keen focus on the condition of human life. It attracts a smaller group which mainly comprises a more intellectually outgoing audience.
- Commercial fiction – appeals to a larger audience and has a number of subgenres including romance, legal thriller, science fiction among others.
- Mainstream fiction – this is a term used to refer to both literary and commercial fiction narratives that describe real-life events that the audience can easily relate to.
Other categories of fiction include:
Fantasy is a genre of fiction where the writer predominantly uses supernatural and magical elements as the theme of the narrative. Hence the plot and setting of the story occur in the realms of a magical world and most of them characterized by kingdoms, wars, quests and imaginary creatures such as dragons, fairies, and witches among others.
- Crime and mystery
Both crime and mystery revolve around crimes especially murder, the criminals and their intentions or drive towards committing the crime and their detection. However, while crime stories are majorly action based and revolve around real events, mystery stories have supernatural events, suspense and puzzles building its plot. The plot mainly begins with the crime being committed, an investigation is carried out and finally, the resolution is reached in which case all the suspense and puzzles are solved and are brought together for the convenience of the readers.
This class mainly focuses on a relationship between two key characters. However, it is important to note that all the other genres may have a romance in the narrative but a romance fiction is distinct in that the whole plot and setting of the narrative revolves around building the relationship. Romance fiction most often begin with the two characters meeting, then all hell breaking loose for the two with a myriad of difficulties that often seem to drive the two characters apart, then comes the realization by the characters that their love is actually worth fighting for and hence are ready to go against all the odds to be together and lastly comes the resolution of the difficulty and a happy ending often referred to as a happy ever after.
- Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre which mainly depicts the future and advanced technology used more or less like in the series Star Trek. These narratives often involve elements such as time travel, space travel, aliens, other dimensions and universes and such kind of stuff. This class is distinct from fantasy in that, the events described in them, impossible as they may seem in real life, are driven by scientific facts unlike fantasy whose key element is magic and supernatural realms which are just but mere imaginations. The class is divided into hard and soft science fiction where the former describes narratives that are majorly built on the accuracy of scientific concepts while the latter includes those texts that describe social sciences such as physiology and anthropology. This class is mainly focused on portraying the progress of advancement of key inventions and revealing the future consequences of adopting such advances especially with regards to the effect that the technology will have on the environment and hence life in general.
- Historical fiction
This genre, as the name suggests, involves past events with utmost keenness in ensuring that the accuracy of the events is maintained hence the writer has to embark on in-depth research on the event before narrating it to ensure that the whole text captivates the audience who have no idea of the event proceedings. Most of these historical fictions typically describe famous happenings. It is important to note that while creativity is a narration of historical fictions is key, the writer should be keen to give the details as they happened.
- Women’s fiction
This is a quite interesting class that revolves around women empowerment and hence most of these narratives in this section will have a female protagonist who defies all odds to make it and be successful in something that is deemed quite an achievement for the character. Women’s fiction stories also have a keen interest in matters of relationship, women empowerment and how a group of women thrive as a result of working together.
- Suspense or thriller
This genre often includes those texts whose main themes are suspense and tension hence the target audience is propelled to read on by the tension and uncertainties projected throughout the narrative through events that unpleasant. The element of surprise is also key in this class and also a physical threat to the characters which elicits anxiety and fear in the audience.
Horror is quite similar to thrillers as the chief intent of the writer is to spook fear and anxiety in the audience hence the whole text revolves around scary, unpleasant, often disgusting events where a very detestable villain is a major character. In this case, the writer has to master the art of using the audience’s own deepest fears both conscious and subconscious such as fear of darkness, death, aliens and other supernatural forces to bring out a story that will enable the reader to relate to his or her fears whilst reading the story.
- Western fiction
This class of fiction describes life after the civil war in America (19th century) hence is set up of the narratives in this section is West America. The class is unique for its characters, cowboys, who are portrayed as self-centered, heroes and conflict between them and the Native Americans.
- Inspirational fiction
This genre includes those texts that are mainly faith based. The aim of the writer is usually to motivate the readers and is usually denominational, that is, could be Christian, Islamic or Hindu depending on the writer and his or her target audience.
Subgenres of fiction
Each of the above describes fiction genre has smaller genres within it referred to as subgenres. These include:
- High fantasy – it is also referred to as epic fantasy as the writer’s intention is to create an epic experience for the reader and includes all narratives that are set on a completely different world or rather on a whole new dimension unfamiliar to the reader.
- Low fantasy- also referred to as urban fantasy and includes those narratives whose set up is on earth and revolve around the story characters. Most often the stakes are lower as compared to epic fantasy and the imaginary events being described are more realistic.
- Fairy tales- also include folklore and mythology. These are the major themes on which most fantasy fictions are built upon.
- Crime and mystery
- The hardboiled detective – the protagonist in this case is often a very intelligent fellow who prefers to work alone, has a myriad of personal issues and is keen on following certain specific rules. But still, is the hero in the story and can solve the crime, which is in this case mostly murder, using tactics best known to him.
- The whodunit – in this type of narrative the reader is provided with clues that actually confuse him or her on whom the actual culprit of the crime is hence the thrill of the story is still maintained by not disclosing the real culprit.
- The cozy mystery – the set-up of narratives in this subgenre are limited to a specific small community. The key feature humor is interwoven appropriately within the story amidst the tension created by the crime.
- The police procedural – as the name depicts, the narrative revolves around the day to day activities of common crime detectives.
- Contemporary romance – this subgenre includes all romance fictions whose plot is from the 1970’s to date hence the modernity of the relationship is key where traditions such as the role and importance of women in the society are completely shunned and the woman, in this case, is portrayed as being independent.
- Historical romance – narrates a romantic relationship between two individuals in a specific time frame.
- Multicultural romance – focuses on a relationship between two people from distinctly different backgrounds regarding culture and social status and hence the two are faced with constant opposition.
- Paranormal romance- here, the individuals are associated with some form of supernatural power and thus the central conflict is based upon science fiction or fantasy.
- Science fiction
- Time travel – narration revolves around individuals crossing different time periods, that is from the present to the past and future and vice versa.
- Military – the main theme here is a war which is based on political factors and is mainly set up to critique the real-life political state.
- Climate change – narratives are focused on depicting a specific climatic calamity which may be an earthquake, global warming among other devastating climate changes.
- Apocalypse and post-apocalypse- focuses on describing the impact of key devastating events such as civil wars that may have occurred in the past.
- Historical fiction
- Fictional biographies- are creative narratives that describe the life of famous individuals that made history with a keen interest in maintaining the facts of the story.
- Historical romance- as mentioned earlier, these narratives describe romantic relationships between two individuals limited to a specific time frame.
- Historical mysteries- these narratives describe how the protagonist investigates a crime, usually murder, and apprehends the culprit.
- Nautical and pirate fiction – is an adventurous narrative whose set-up is the sea and life of the pirates and at times the conflict between these pirates and the navy.
What is a memoir?
A memoir is a tale that typically describes real-life experiences most especially that are related to the writer and hence the writer is tasked with the responsibility of shaping the tale in such a manner that at the end, it will have meaning to a random reader who is unfamiliar with the events and therefore cannot relate to them on a personal level. It is therefore prudent for a memoir writer to master the art and skill of arraying the events and describing them in such a manner that it sparks the interest of the reader. Barbara Lounsberry, a literary critic, gives the following four characteristics of a memoir.
- “Documentable subject matter is chosen from the real world as opposed to ‘invented’ from the writer’s mind.” – This basically means that the sequence of events narrated in this genre are in fact true and factual and not some story imagined by the writer.
- “Exhaustive research.” – Extensive research should be done to get credible facts.
- “The scene.” – These are the building blocks of the memoir.
- “Fine writing: a literary prose style- the literary techniques, styles and language of the text.
What is a braid essay?
A braid essay is a narrative that is composed of different alternating storylines woven together but separated into a distinct section with each section describing a different story. The stories are separated by white lines on the page. In essence, each white line signifies the halt of one storyline and the beginning of another storyline more or less like the stanzas of a poem or song.
This guide guarantees you all that you need when it comes to creative nonfiction.