Creative nonfiction is telling the truth using fiction techniques instead of simply reporting the facts. For example:
Just the facts:
When I was young my grandmother took me to the zoo. I remember seeing segregated water fountains, one for whites and one for coloreds.
Summers spent with my grandmother always meant a trip to the zoo. The aroma of hot buttered popcorn swirled in the air with the scents of roasting peanuts and warm sugar from the cotton candy stand. In the distance spider monkeys hooted and a lion occasionally bellowed. I loved that place. There was one thing that always bothered me, however. The water fountains. On one was stenciled,“whites,” the other, “coloreds.”
I always stared at them and wondered—why?
In the above paragraph no facts were changed. However, the creative example puts the reader at the zoo by setting the scene, using the senses, and internalization.
Over the next few weeks we will take an in depth look at the elements of creative nonfiction. We will begin with setting a scene, followed by description, internalization, dialogue, emotion, and the “ah-ha,” aka the simple lesson or epiphany.
To make this series more beneficial, I recommend you participate by choosing a writing project from one of the many anthologies available with the goal of submission in mind.
I recommend Chicken Soup for the Soul (naturally) ;)
After you have chosen the anthology, think about a personal experience you want to write about. When you finish this series, your creative nonfiction story will be ready to submit.
Next Thursday we will begin with “Setting the Scene.”