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Creative nonfiction – Werner Essay

?Jo Ann Beard is primarily acknowledged as a writer of creative nonfiction. What is creative nonfiction you ask? Creative nonfiction is the writing of real events using the same techniques used to create fiction; however, the writing does not contain facts from the incident. One of the many creative nonfictions written by Beard is “Werner. ” Werner Hoeflich heads home to his apartment in New York City after spending the evening at his catering job. Between the hours of four and five A. M. , Werner catches sounds of squeals and he wakes up to discover a tremendous amount of smoke floating in his apartment.

Werner jumps out the window into the next door building; he astoundingly survives the devastating fire. Beard very effectively illustrates the process going through Werner’s head in the heat of the situation. Her words clearly describe how Werner jumped back and forth from his mind flashes, giving the reader a marvelous amount of information about Werner’s history. ?Beard is trying to reach out to readers who enjoy reality molded into nonfiction. She is reaching out to readers who enjoy creating scenes in their minds while interpreting the text.

The information Beard is trying to convey is pretty straight forward. She is trying to convey how Werner, the main character, felt during the terrible incident. She wants to convey to the reader that every scene was conceivable even though it was now a work of creative nonfiction. Beard wanted to go to the extent where the readers would believe that they were there while the apartment building had been caught on fire. She wanted them to be present in the moment, be alive with the character of Werner. ?The success of the story starts right from the beginning.

Jo Ann Beard grabs the readers in by using the ominous effect. For those who don’t know, the ominous effect is the feeling created by the author that something is either about to go wrong or has already gone wrong. By using this, the author is warning the readers that something intolerably erroneous is about to happen. Not only is this a sign for the reader, but it also creates hazard for the storyteller. The writer has to make sure the story is descriptive enough so the reader is able to tell that the events taking place are not something that will usually occur in that specific setting.

Beard successfully succeeded using this effect because she is straight forward to her readers; she lets them know that night was not an ordinary night in New York City. This saves the readers from getting confused later on during the story. Beard describes the setting when Werner walked home after work: “But on that night it wasn’t like that; it was cold and fresh on the dark streets” (1). She also describes the setting surrounding his apartment: “The trees on his block were scrawny and impervious, like invalid aunts” (1).

Comparing these two sentences to the description of New York City on a regular day is like comparing a cat to a dog. Beard description of New York of colored sunrises, banded cows, and Dairy Queens just didn’t connect with the idea of the mysterious streets or the spindly trees. The negative feeling generated from these two sentences from Beard’s story act as signals to be cautious of what’s ahead. Not does this only catch the reader’s attention, but it also creates curiosity. ? Even though the ominous effect alone can create an interest for the readers, Beard added foreshadowing.

The ominous effect brought the story the reader’s attention and created curiosity. The readers were aware that what they were going to read ahead won’t be pleasant. The thought of what it would be kept them reading. By adding foreshadowing, Beard now also had the reader’s interest and formed suspicion. She described the act of the bird at the beginning of the story, “The bird had sharpened both sides of its beak on the branch and then made a veering, panicky flight to a windowsill far above” (1).

After being freaked out by the fire, Werner’s actions were described by Beard, “He went in up to his knees, which landed on the stone sill, body all the way through onto somebody’s bed, right into their apartment…” (11). Foreshadowing can really play with the reader’s mind. The readers do not know when the foreshadowing will occur. Sometimes they don’t even know if it will occur or not. Beard also did a very well job of using the technique of foreshadowing. To use this technique, the author must plan ahead and must know exactly what the ending will be.

The author must use enough information to create curiosity but not enough for the ending to be given away. In any story, providing clues to a perceptive reader is quite engaging. Once a reader knows foreshadowing is in use, they will be more careful reading and looking for important details. Another impact foreshadowing creates on the reader is the effort to make predictions.

Since the readers do not know when to expect the foreshadowing, they will make predictions and get more involved with the story. ?The author efficiently demonstrated Werner’s thoughts through illustrating pictures through the reader’s head along the way. She came up with ways to make her story engaging.

The use of different literary devices helped attract the readers to the text and continue reading without being bored. Beard very successfully created a piece of creative nonfiction that not only told a story of an event, but also had her readers be present and alive. Since the readers could visualize every moment themselves, Beard most likely had left her readers believing it was them inside that apartment building and not Werner.


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