Tips from the Editors: Nonfiction

What Makes Creative Nonfiction Good? The (1/4) Creativity

One of the things that makes nonfiction such a compelling genre is the role that truth and reality play in it. Fiction can be anything you want, but nonfiction must be based on real events, people, or experiences. This may sound like a limitation to most, but it has always been a benefit when correctly used.

As we established, nonfiction is built upon the truth. However, memory is not perfect. There will be details that are forgotten, qualities changed, and conversations manipulated. As much as an author may try, these changes in composition are inevitable. These faults are due to the fluid nature of memory. Whenever we recollect something our brain is constantly changing it as it tries to recall.

When you sit down and start remembering interactions to write about it may be difficult at first. Slowly it will come back, and you will be able to recall the memory entirely. Well, most of it. There will most likely be patches that are vague, or pieces missing. How was the room laid out? What was that person wearing? These holes are perfect areas to utilize the creative part of nonfiction. They allow a little wiggle room for the author to play around and immerse the reader in the experience they had. Though the scene may not be accurate to the reality that occurred, it is accurate to your memory of reality (memoir is the best for this, journalistic pieces are tricky and should be as close to reality as possible).

The next time you have trouble remembering something exactly as it happened, understand that it is an opportunity to explore the creative craft and steep the reader in your experience of reality, rather than a limitation.


Nicole Taylor

nonfiction editor