Creative Nonfiction: Not Just the Boring Truth

By Holly Keehn

I thought creative non-fiction class would be boring, here’s why I was completely wrong.

Going into creative nonfiction, I thought the class was going to be boring and dry. I have never really liked reading nonfiction work before, that is, the nonfiction that was assigned to me in high school. Other than that, I never branched out and read anything in the genre. I was hesitant to start the course because I like writing creative pieces where I can make everything be exactly how I want them to be and not have to stick to the truth. However, as I started the course and worked my way through, I was incredibly surprised and overjoyed at how much I liked writing nonfiction once I learned how to properly write it and the beauty in the genre.

Reading the pieces assigned to us throughout the course I came to the realization that just because nonfiction has to be true, that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be creative and interesting. I always choose to read rather than watch a book that is turned into a movie because I love the background information and all of the tiny details you get in reading a book that movies don’t provide. This is what I loved about nonfiction. The reader got to delve into the minds and stories of real people in real situations and get all of those tiny details I crave so much and feel what the author felt and know what they were going through. Through the workshops, I got a real feel for all the details that the readers yearn for and how important it is to include all of the tiny details that put the reader in the moment with the characters.

As I started writing my own pieces, it was like opening a faucet that had rusted shut. I began to type, and everything came flowing out. It was such a relief to tell some of my stories and felt so good knowing they would be heard. However, I had a lot to learn about writing style. Throughout high school, I was naturally good at writing so I never did more than one draft, and that was always good enough. But through this class, I learned how important it is to write and revise; then keep revising. Every single word matters, and every single sentence matters in order to set the story and underlying themes and tone. Before this class, I never paid particular attention to the tone of the author. When talking about the tone, I learned how there is a difference between how the author sets the tone and the characters point of view. The author could be writing from the past or the present or jumping back and forth, and it is important to pay attention to all the tiny details to make sure the tone is correct.

Through the workshops, I learned so much about what it really is to give the reader what they yearn for when reading about someone else’s life. When I originally wrote my pieces, I wrote them without much backstory or information about the characters because I never stopped to realize that even though I know things about the characters, the readers did not know what they were like or why they were like that. It took a lot of effort to try to see my own pieces the way a reader would see it and make sure they would get all of the necessary information and leave out the filler. I hope I did better with my final pieces with that and feel as if I have the knowledge to continue to improve in that area of writing.

Through learning about tone and the author’s and character’s voices, the perspective of the reader versus author, how to write to engage the reader and make them feel a part of the story, I feel like I can now move on and be a much better writer.

Categories: Art & Entertainment

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