What is Creative Nonfiction?
We can define the genre of ‘creative nonfiction’ simply, succinctly, and accurately as ‘true stories well told’. And that in essence is what AOST is all about. Supporting and growing the storytelling craft that we all belong to by sharing our stories of our actual practice – our practice wisdom. To be clear, we are asking for submissions of true stories about your practice and art of oral storytelling told well.
In some ways, creative nonfiction is like jazz – it’s a rich mix of flavours, ideas, and techniques, some of which are newly invented, and others as old as writing itself.
Creative nonfiction can be an essay, a journal article, a research paper, a memoir, an interview; It can be personal or not, it can be one or all of these things combined. The words ‘creative’ and ‘nonfiction’ describe the form. The word ‘creative’ refers to the use of literary craft, the techniques fiction writers, playwrights and poets employ to present nonfiction – factually accurate prose about real people and events – in a compelling, vivid, dramatic manner. The goal is to make nonfiction stories read like fiction so that our readers are as enthralled by fact as they are by fantasy.
The word creative has been criticised in this context because some people have maintained that being creative means that you pretend or exaggerate or make up facts and embellish details. This is completely incorrect. It is possible to be honest and straight forward and brilliant and creative at the same time.
‘Creative’ doesn’t mean inventing what didn’t happen, reporting and describing what wasn’t there. It doesn’t mean that the writer has a license to lie. The cardinal rule is clear – and this can’t be violated. This is the pledge the writer makes to the reader – the maxim we live by, the anchor of creative nonfiction. You’re really not allowed to make this stuff up.
The fastest Growing Genre
Creative nonfiction has become the most popular genre in the literary and publishing communities. These days the biggest publishers, – Harper Collins, Random House, Norton and others – are seeking creative nonfiction titles more vigorously than literary fiction and poetry. Even small and academic presses that previously published books of only regional interest, along with criticism and poetry, are actively seeking creative nonfiction titles these days. In the academic community generally, creative nonfiction has become the popular way to write.
Creative nonfiction is the dominant form in publications like The New Yorker, Esquire, and Vanity Fair. You will even find creative nonfiction stories featured on the front page of the New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.