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Creative Nonfiction: Your Main Character Moment


Have you ever felt like a side character in your own story? Ever wanted to grab the microphone and tell it yourself? Then creative nonfiction could be the genre for you! The internet has been obsessed with “being the main character” recently, and what better way to feel like a main character than to write yourself as one? Read on to learn more!


What is Creative Nonfiction?

Creative nonfiction, also called literary or narrative nonfiction, is a pretty broad genre. It can include memoirs and personal essays as well as social media and blog posts (kind of like this one!). Creativenonfiction.org defines creative nonfiction as “true stories, well told.” We can’t change the truth, but we can tell the truth in a compelling, unique way that appeals to readers and makes an impact. That’s where your creativity comes in!


Putting the “Creative” in “Creative Nonfiction”

When I was in second grade, my teacher asked us to write a memoir, a personal story. I remember being frustrated with the assignment because nothing very interesting had happened in my life up until then. Who would want to read about a trip to the dentist, or apple picking at the farm? The stuff that happened in the books I was reading seemed way cooler, like sword fights, magic treehouses, and royal balls. Why couldn’t I write something like that?

What I didn’t understand at the time was that I had the power to make real life as interesting as fiction by focusing on my subjective experiences. I didn’t have to write an encyclopedia entry about my trip to gramma’s, I could embellish it with my own thoughts and unique perspective to make it something I’d want to read.

Only you can describe what the top of the Ferris wheel looked like, or what your mom sounded like when she told you your pet died. Only you know how you felt when you won the elementary school spelling bee. You’re in the unique position to tell readers something that only you can tell them about your life.


Some Things to Remember

Creative nonfiction stories are just like regular ones, just about true events instead of fictional ones. They tend to follow the same structure as fiction stories, with characters, conflict, and resolution. Character development and story arcs are important to any compelling story, and in creative nonfiction, these usually take the form of personal reflection. It’s fun to write about real experiences, but your focus should be on what that experience meant to you, and how it changed you in some way.

Start Writing!

Writing creative nonfiction is a great way to stretch your writer's legs. You don’t need to worry about coming up with an interesting plot and characters, because they already exist! You can start small by describing an awkward encounter at the grocery store, a particularly memorable family vacation, or even the interesting employee activities in your office breakroom. As long as you bring your unique voice to it, your true story is sure to be a hit!

 

About the Author: Lindsey Odorizzi is currently working towards her BA in English and Creative Writing at Brandeis University. She lives in upstate New York with her parents and two sisters, and her cat, Sister. You can usually find her reading, crocheting, or watching Marvel movies. She hopes to be an editor in the future to continue to help others improve their writing.

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