Creative Writing Nonfiction

Creative Writing Nonfiction-1
I even portrayed myself with constantly dishevelled hair even though in reality I sometimes do brush it.

I even portrayed myself with constantly dishevelled hair even though in reality I sometimes do brush it.I wasn’t faking, but rather working along the lines of advice from Robin Hemley who in his book about creative non-fiction, ‘Immersion’, wrote: “It’s possible to be completely honest about yourself and at the same time selective and manipulative in the details you choose, for the sake of keeping the prose focused.” To reveal the emotional truth of our stories without boring our readers silly we are ‘allowed’ to reveal about ourselves just the stuff that is relevant to the particular story we are telling.

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Her blog was a finalist for Best Australian Blogs 2014.

Creative nonfiction typically derives its meaning from the two words: creative meaning the craft of writing and nonfiction meaning facts or that which is real and true.

After all, what your readers are really after is a good story and thoughtful reflection, not tedious mumbling.

Ethical concerns, such as this question of memory’s accuracy, proliferate in creative non-fiction, which is what makes this genre so risky to work in and therefore exciting too.

In writing creative non-fiction we often engage with our past.

Yet memory, as we all know, is a fickle, capricious princess.Lee Kofman is an author of four books, including the memoir ‘The Dangerous Bride’ (Melbourne University Press), and co-editor of ‘Rebellious Daughters’ (Ventura Press), an anthology of memoir by prominent Australian writers.Her short works have been widely published in Australia, UK, Scotland, Israel, Canada and US, including in ‘Best Australian Stories’ and ‘Best Australian Essays’.Such simplification is particularly common with bad memoirs where authors often rush to offer redemptive endings to their sometimes harrowing life dramas as if every difficulty can be ‘fixed’.Instead, I suggest, stay with the ambivalence and uncertainty if this is what’s true to our experiences.Sometimes it’s worth admitting that our memory is more a suspect than a trustworthy assistant and to write this tension between truth and fiction into the work.Here is a warning, though – discoursing on memory has become somewhat of a cliché in creative non-fiction and it is all too easy to slip into self-indulgence here.Make your work reflect life’s complexity; don’t look for neat resolutions where there are none.One of the things that can kill a work of creative non-fiction is an imposed simplification of the reality being explored.It may ease the pressure a bit if we, as writers, admit that such concerns are actually a part of the story we are writing, rather than something to deal with on our own, in guilty secrecy.In fact, sometimes, when written into the story, our dilemmas can become interesting part of the work, deepening it greatly.


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