Creative nonfiction (also known as literary or narrative nonfiction) is that branch of writing which employs literary Styles, techniques and artistic vision usually associated with fiction or poetry to create factually accurate narratives on actual persons and events. Creative nonfiction contrasts with other nonfiction, such as technical writing or journalism, which is also rooted in accurate fact, but is not primarily written in service to its craft.
It is a hybrid of literature and non-fiction because it comprises of Non-fiction elements and Literary elements which are essay form, story/narration, explanation/exposition, place/scene/setting, standard rhetorical patterns, characterization, focuses on ideas, facts (not only language),author personally engaged, researched facts, literary voice/feel, artistic, instinctual, polished language. The primary goal of the creative nonfiction writer is to communicate information, just like a reporter, but to shape it in a way that reads like fiction.
As a genre, creative nonfiction is still relatively young, and is only beginning to be scrutinized with the same critical analysis given to fiction and poetry. Though only recently identified and taught as a distinct and separate literary genre, the roots of creative nonfiction run deeply into literary tradition and history though has been in use as earlier as 1970s but was originally made official in the year 1983 in the United States of America at a meeting convened by the National Endowment for the Arts to deal with the question of what, exactly, to call the genre as a category for the NEA’s creative writing fellowships.
The NEA long recognized the art of nonfiction but has been trying to find a way to describe the category so writers would understand what kind of work to submit for consideration. “Essay” is the term used to describe this “artful” nonfiction, but it didn’t really capture the essence of the genre for the NEA or lots of other folks experimenting in the field. Technically, scholars, critics, and academics of all sorts, as well as newspaper op-ed reporters, were writing “essays,” although that was not the kind of work the It had in mind.
“Journalism” didn’t fit the category, either, although the anchoring element of the best creative nonfiction requires an aspect of reportage. For a while the It experimented with “belles-lettres,” a misunderstood term that favors style over substance and did not capture the personal essence and foundation of the literature they were seeking. Eventually one of the NEA members in the meeting that day pointed out that a rebel in his English department was campaigning for the term “creative nonfiction.
” That rebel was Professor Lee Gutkind. Forms within this genre are personal essays, memoir, travel writing, food writing, biography, literary journalism, and other hybridized essays. Personal essay is often a free-wheeling device of self-expression. If you ever want to experiment with prose and with loosened structure, this is where you can do it. A memoir is a piece of autobiographical writing, usually shorter in nature than a comprehensive autobiography.
The memoir, especially as it is being used in publishing today, often tries to capture certain highlights or meaningful moments in one’s past, often including a contemplation of the meaning of that event at the time of the writing of the memoir. The memoir may be more emotional and concerned with capturing particular scenes, or a series of events, rather than documenting every fact of a person’s life (Zuwiyya, N. 2000). Literary journalism refers to the use of fictional techniques in writing a work of nonfiction.
In other words, it’s a true, well-researched, journalistically-sound story that might normally be written in a dry newspaper manner that has been instead written with style, vivid description, and narrative flow that immerses the reader in the story. The quality of the writing used to tell the story is just as important as telling the truth of the story. Narrative history is the practice of writing history in a story-based form. It can be divided into two subgenres: the traditional narrative and the modern narrative.
Traditional narrative focuses on the chronological order of history; it is event driven and tends to center upon individuals, action, and intention. Modern narrative typically focuses on structures and general trends. A modern narrative would break from rigid chronology if the historian felt it explained the concept better. Docufiction (often understood as docudrama) is a neologism which refers to a cinematographic work in a genre mixing fiction and documentary. Docudrama is wrongly used as a synonym of docufiction, confusing drama with fiction.
The use of docufiction is common in television, consisting in illustrating facts or events with actors. The term docudrama is apter in this sense. The term docufiction is sometimes used to refer to literary journalism (creative nonfiction). Controversies over the legitimacy of creative nonfiction, both as a term and as a genre; flares up regularly, perhaps even annually. In recent years, several well-publicized incidents within the United States have called into question the truthfulness and factual standards of creative nonfiction.
Given its different styles and characteristics, it is not held to the same journalistic ethics and standards as direct reporting or news publications. Its allowances of artistic license to authors are not standardized, and some have accused writers of glorification of interpretation, and even of fabrication. A recent example of these incidents is the James Frey controversy in regards to his memoir A Million Little Pieces, published in 2003. In his memoir, Frey claimed to certain experiences (claim to have helped a high school friend sneak out with her boyfriend on the night she died in a car wreck.
But, according to thesmokinggun. com, police reports and the girl’s family indicate Frey had nothing to do with the tragedy. ), which purported to be a memoir but contained fictionalized events, is unmasked in 2006. Such scandals seem to inspire frenzies among literary and cultural critics, an excuse for predictable (but nevertheless often satisfying) expressions of Schadenfreude and sanctimonious pronouncements about Truth in Art. Writers are warned to not be too cre¬ative with weaving their stories, however.
If you add characters, dialogue, invent scenes and alter facts, you moved to the realm of historical fic¬tion, a noble genre but still, fiction. Lee Gutkind, an English professor at the University of Pittsburgh, credited as the founder of the creative non-fiction movement. “There’s this research aspect of creative non-fiction (Ethics of Literary Non-fiction) that you can’t get away from — that a lot of writers try to skip over or do without. ” Authors seem to be getting the emotional aspects of a nonfiction topic across successfully.
Many authors try to carry the emotion with anthropomor¬phism or an abundance of exclamation points, rather than building the story in such a way that the natural drama of it comes through. Sometimes, the descriptive language is not as strong as it could be. Nonfiction authors are more likely to use a simple, somewhat familiar description rather than searching for a more evocative, unique way of saying the same thing. Works Cited Gutkind, Lee (2007). The Best Creative Nonfiction, Vol.
1. New York: W. W. Norton, xi. ISBN 0393330036. Johnson, E. L. ; Wolfe, Tom (1975). The New Journalism. London: Pan Books. ISBN 0330243152 Wyatt, Edward. “Best-Selling Memoir Draws Scrutiny”, The New York Times, 2006-01-10. Anderson, Chris (1989). Literary nonfiction: theory, criticism, pedagogy. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, xix-x. ISBN 0809314053. Nancy E. Zuwiyya, School Library Journal, Fox’s work, Colombia, Heinemann Library (Chicago, IL), 2000
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