For years, I’ve been a bit confused as to exactly what creative nonfiction was.
Was it an essay, or something else altogether?
Well, instead of continuing to wonder, I’ve decided to do a little research and find out.
Essay: According to handmadewriting.com: “The essay is a written piece that is designed to present an idea, propose an argument, express the emotion, or initiate debate. It is a tool that is used to present writer’s ideas in a non-fictional way. Multiple applications of this type of writing go beyond, providing political manifestos and art criticism as well as personal observations and reflections of the author.”
Creative Nonfiction: Per creativenonfiction.org: “Simply put: Creative nonfiction is true stories, well told.”
The site goes on to break down what exactly makes up creative nonfiction: “Creative nonﬁction can be an essay, a journal article, a research paper, a memoir, a tweet; it can be personal or not, or it can be all of these.”
The key? It must not be ‘made up’ – as in no fictional elements whatsoever.
So, briefly, the essay is a form of creative nonfiction.
Where fiction is a creative work which involves fictional setting, characters and events that includes forms like novels, novellas, and short stories – so, creative nonfiction is a creative work which involves true stories and real people that includes forms like essays, journals, and memoirs.
A good example of a short creative nonfiction: A Soldier’s Story by Lee Roberts.
A great example of an essay: Ever Et Raw Meat & Other Weird Questions by Stephen King.