Michelle Wittle On Understanding Creative Non-Fiction

Michelle Wittle On, Writing Tips

This is one of those terms everyone throws around and no one is man enough to admit no one really knows what the term means.

It’s simple enough. Creative non-fiction is something that is true yet it has a dash of creativity to it.

But, what does that mean in practical terms?

How do we draw the line between fiction and creative non-fiction?

I will use my own writing as an example of what not to do.

I once wrote, what I thought was a creative non-fiction essay about Barbie. However, Barbie is a doll. She is not a person (even though to my childhood self, she was more than just a doll). The subject alone made my essay fiction because I made it all up. Sure, Barbie’s actions could be real and the thoughts I gave her were mine own, but the bottom line remains; my Barbie essay was a fiction story about what her life was like in my eyes.

Fiction is made up. Creative non-fiction looks at real personal experience and adds the creative flair to it.

It sounds easy, but there are such fine lines to what fiction is and what constitutes creative non-fiction. People get confused.  I think what starts confusing people is the word creative. People immediately think because it is creative it must automatically be fake. But, think about the best story teller in your life. They may have exaggerated the truth a bit, but let’s be honest, were those things what made you pay attention to the story? No, it was the way the story was told to you. It was the storyteller’s voice and the way the storyteller presented the information to you that made you want to listen to your Uncle Henry for hours.

That is the key to creative non-fiction.

It is the way the storyteller uses his or her voice to tell you the personal experience. The storyteller’s unique eye for seeing the world around him or her and the ability to grab the audience; those are the things that push creative non-fiction.

Creative non-fiction is looking at the horrors of life and finding that small ray of hope.