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Creative Nonfiction

Sherwood Lummus, Basic Author

Creative Nonfiction is the writing of dramatic, true stories using scenes, dialogue, detailed descriptions and other techniques usually employed by poets and fiction writers about important subjects - from politics, to economics, to sports, to the arts and sciences, to racial relations, and family relations. Creative nonfiction writers do not make things up but present ideas and information that already exist in a more interesting and an accessible form.

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The primary goal of a creative nonfiction writer is to communicate information such as personal essays, memoir, travel writing, food writing, biography, literary journalism, much like a reporter. However, the information should be fashioned to reads like fiction. But, in order for it to be considered creative nonfiction, it must be factually accurate, and written with attention to literary style and technique.

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Guidelines for Writing Creative Non-Fiction

    (from Barbara Lounsberry, The Literature of Reality, 1996, p. 30)
  1. Research thoroughly
  2. Cultivate relationships with your subjects over a period of time to create trust, absorb information, note change, and know individuals so you can describe their thoughts, feelings, and attitudes correctly
  3. Never invent or change facts or events - The truth is stranger than fiction
  4. Avoid composites
  5. Aim for a clear style with rhythm, "texture," color, and a dramatic pace
  6. Write for real people to enrich their lives
  7. Write about real events and people to make them come alive and record them
  8. Have faith in the value and importance of human being and human events


Book Offer

Writing Creative Nonfiction

[Paperback] Philip Gerard (Editor)

Writing Creative Nonfiction presents more than thirty essays examining every key element of the craft, from researching ideas and structuring the story, to reportage and personal reflection. You'll learn from some of today's top creative nonfiction writers, including:


Writing Creative Nonfiction

Terry Tempest Williams - Analyze your motivation for writing, its value, and its strength.

Alan Cheuse - Discover how interesting, compelling essays can be drawn from every corner of your life and the world in which you live.

Phillip Lopate - Build your narrator–yourself–into a fully fleshed-out character, giving your readers a clearer, more compelling idea of who is speaking and why they should listen.

Robin Hemley - Develop a narrative strategy for structuring your story and making it cohesive.

Carolyn Forche - Master the journalistic ethics of creative nonfiction.

Dinty W. Moore - Use satire, exaggeration, juxtaposition, and other forms of humor in creative nonfiction.

Philip Gerard - Understand the narrative stance–why and how an author should, or should not, enter into the story.

Through insightful prompts and exercises, these contributors help make the challenge of writing creative nonfiction–whether biography, true-life adventure, memoir, or narrative history–a welcome, rewarding endeavor.

You'll also find an exciting, creative nonfiction "reader" comprising the final third of the book, featuring pieces from Barry Lopez, Annie Dillard, Beverly Lowry, Phillip Lopate, and more–selections so extraordinary, they will teach, delight, inspire, and entertain you for years to come!


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Articles by Sherwood Lummus; Published at

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Sherwood Lummus, Basic Author

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