Creative nonfiction is a relatively new genre of literature. It can be classified as either fiction or non-fiction, despite the fact that it often straddles the line between the two. Creative writing has been existing since humans have had tongues with which to speak, but this particular type of writing is only about 200 years old.
The first type of creative nonfiction was actually court reports and transcripts, written by professionals for lawyers and judges to use in trials. The “law” part comes into play because these types of documents are meant to tell a story; they include dialogue and emotion to make them more interesting for everyone involved. They also try not to stray too far from reality (although at times this is slightly unavoidable).
After some time, the creative nonfiction genre branched off into popular magazines and journals. These types of writing delve more deeply into the emotions and stories of specific individuals in a given situation, rather than professional court reporters and legal documents.
Nowadays, we most often see this type of writing come up in news media. For example, when someone writes an article about their experience with an illness or accident – they are creating creative nonfiction. Even though they are not bound by the guidelines set out for traditional court reports/transcripts or news reporting, these types of works are usually very factual because it’s easy to sway your audience if you don’t stick close to reality.
While there is no true formula for what makes something creative nonfiction, there are a few important elements that must be included. First of all, the writing must incorporate some sort of emotion into the story. It also needs to read more like a story than an article or piece of news reporting. Finally, at least some level of research must be involved before publishing the material for others to read.
Most common types of creative nonfiction:
The main difference between creative nonfiction and traditional academic articles is that creative nonfiction pieces are usually much shorter, rarely longer than 2 pages (or about 750 words). Academic articles can go on for multiple pages – often several thousands of words – because they need to show evidence to back up claims. Creative nonfiction pieces are labeled as such because they do not need to prove anything; the events in creative nonfiction stories happened, and that’s all that matters.
Another key difference between these writing types is that in creative nonfiction pieces, people’s names are rarely mentioned. Academic articles must cite their sources when mentioning anything factual so it can be found easily by other researchers. This doesn’t mean creative nonfiction writers cannot use actual names when creating their works – they just don’t have to unless there is a specific reason for doing so (for example, if the story takes place in a small world and the main character has only one name).
Another difference between academic articles and creative nonfiction is research. Academic articles require extensive research, both before writing and during editing/revising. Creative nonfiction pieces only need enough so the author is somewhat knowledgeable about what they are writing about – or at least they can fake it until they make it!
Creative nonfiction does not have to be based on true stories; however, if something happened, then that’s usually the best starting point for creating creative nonfiction (rather than pure fiction). If someone is selling a piece of creative nonfiction as real when it isn’t – that is called “literary hoaxing.” It’s frowned upon in many circles because readers lose trust in writers who mislead them by saying their work is factually accurate when it really isn’t.
For the readers, there is also a difference between these two types of writing. Academic articles are written in a straightforward manner with minimal emotional involvement from the writer. Creative nonfiction pieces use more figurative language and draw on emotions to relay their content.
The main purpose for either type of writing is to convey information or tell a story – but the format used differs greatly between academic articles and creative nonfiction.
In conclusion, while both academic articles and creative nonfiction have similar purposes, they operate differently when actually being created!