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A Trip into the Unknown yet Known

Updated on May 26, 2014

Why is it so difficult?/ Why is it worth it?

The complexity of the genre aside, it is extremely difficult to write, and not many people do because of this. (*hint* Less competition to get published)

The difficulty, not only comes from the crazy balancing act of fictional elements like scene, plot, setting and character, mixed in with a striving for absolute truth, but from finding that truth.

In this genre you are forced to think of things on a deeper level then most of us ever do. And even harder, you are forced to think of your behavior, your reactions, your memories in such depth that they will often morph as you work through the piece. You will be forced to face realities and truths about things that you may have been burying deep down for years, and continue to push through. However, as Workshop leader said, if a topic is proving difficult to work with, that usually means it is the right one.

Warning: You will break down and cry like a baby at least once while working on each piece.
It is part of the process and actually a good sign. It means that you are getting to the true heart of what the piece is about.

It is in our nature, due to the way society is to not think to deeply on anything, so we cut ourselves off from realizations that could cause us pain. This genre requires us to overcome the societal norms and reach deeper. The deeper you go in your piece, the stronger the connection your audience will have.

Another difficulty with the genre is writing time. In creative non-fiction it is important to focus on your underlying topic once it shows itself to you. As a result, often 60 pages of writing will only yield 15-20 pages of usable work for the piece. You have write everything you have on the topic before you find out the true reason you are writing about the topic. Many people are scared away by this fact because writing takes time. We live in an instant gratification world,and writing provides little instant gratification.

Even with these difficulties, I can tell you from experience that taking even a little dip in this genre is beyond worth it, even for those of you who don't have dreams of publishing.

You see the world and your experience through a new lens. You may remember something that you had lost memory of. You may rewrite your memories for the better. It is a way of free therapy for all and is a path into deeper understanding.

For those of you interested in publishing, There is less competition in this genre because there are not many people willing to take the time and work to create a piece, so try it. You'll never know if it is right for you until you give it a shot.

Recommend books for the genre:

Marbles by Ellen Forney (graphic novel)

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Creative Non-fiction by Philip Gerard

What is Creative Non-fiction?

There is no simple answer to this question. Google the term and read every article you can find and still you will find yourself grasping for a definition. I did when I first began a workshop focused on the Genre and I believe even after extended experience I could still never provide someone with a simple answer.

The conundrum of this genre comes both from it's newness, and it's nature.

It is complex. It asks one to be entirely truthful in their recollections and descriptions of the event the piece focuses around, while presenting the events (the story) in an engaging narrative voice.

In short for this genre one must:

  • Present facts and events as they happened (not as you wish they had)
  • Present the narrator's (the writer's) emotions, thoughts and point of views, truthfully. There is no trying to make yourself look better here.
  • Present the tale in a Narrative voice, that enthralls the reader
  • Give context, social, political, etc. surrounded the event
  • Give information that is not common sense on the topic you choose
  • While doing the previous 2 bullet points, you MUST NOT make it sound like some newspaper article, or academic paper, You must mix context, info and scene/action together and balance them out.
  • Have an apparent topic, i.e Working on a Play
  • Then have a underlying also. Something that experience with the first topic made you realize about yourself, the world,etc. This is the harder one to grasp and if you try to choose it before you start the topic will change while you write the piece. The underlying topic will help reveal it self to you as you read your writing.
  • You have to have a reason for writing the piece. Why is this important for others to read? What are you trying to tell or teach your readers?
  • Research. If you don't that much about your base/apparent topic, research more about it. If you don't remember an event that well, interview other that were there. Even if you do remember the event interview others that were there. Talking to them may help you see the event from a different perspective and provide information.
  • Have a good friend read your drafts. They will see things you don't and that is extremely helpful.

In short, Creative non-fiction is making real life events interesting and exciting.

Your Experience

Let me know how you like the Genre, if you do, or if you don't say why. If you have tips to share post'em. Don't be afraid to comment.

Also let me know if there are any other topics in the writing world you want to know about.

Ask questions!


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