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What Writing Techniques Do Creative Nonfiction Authors Use?

Creative nonfiction is a mode of writing that melds fiction and nonfiction elements. It has become a popular choice for contemporary American writers seeking to explore difficult issues in a fresh and engaging manner.

While most writers will incorporate some nonfiction elements into their creative fiction, the reverse is not usually the case. Creative nonfiction authors will often experiment with different techniques to create a more compelling narrative. As a results, they often diverge from the traditional nonfiction methods while still relying on objective facts when appropriate. Here are just a few of the many sub-genres of creative nonfiction and the unique writing techniques that define each one.


Chronicle is a form of creative nonfiction that emerged out of the news media in the 20th century. The goal of a chronicle is to depict real-life events in a way that is both entertaining and insightful. It is, therefore, often associated with a more traditional news report or ‘article’ but goes beyond the facts to include the author’s own subjective commentary.

The advantage of a journalistic approach to chronicle writing is that the facts are generally agreed upon by experts in the field. This allows the writer to develop their own commentary and to draw a more interesting and nuanced picture of what happened. A trained journalist would generally be a great choice for this type of writing project because of their proven ability to gather objective facts and use them to tell a good story.

However, not all creative nonfiction authors will choose to work with journalists. For instance, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein famously worked together to uncover the truth about the Watergate scandal. While their story is an important one, it would be a disservice to deem it as purely journalistic. The key lesson from this collaboration is that even nonfiction authors should be able to experiment with different techniques and unique storytelling methods to best express their unique vision of reality.


An autobiography is simply a written document detailing an individual’s life. It is generally composed of personal essays, diary entries, or a combination of the two. Many autobiographies will incorporate short stories or anecdotes about the author’s life as a means of illustrating the events that they describe. This type of narrative will often be the result of a long-time fascination with the subject matter that led to the writing project.

An advantage of an autobiography is that the author gets to flesh out their personal experiences while still maintaining a degree of objectivity. This feature makes autobiographies a popular choice among writers who aspire to explore sensitive issues such as mental health or addiction. It also makes them a great choice for writers who want to experiment with unique narrative structures and storytelling techniques. The disadvantage is that autobiographies can be rather limited in terms of the issues they address and the perspectives they present.


A memoir is, generally, a straightforward and objective account of one’s life. Like an autobiography, it may incorporate short stories or anecdotes about the author’s life. Unlike an autobiography, a memoir will not present a particular perspective on the subject matter and will generally avoid discussing the author’s feelings or opinions about their life. This mode of writing also tends to rely on a more formal style, which some people may find off-putting.

Despite these commonalities, a memoir will usually be more polished and presentable than an autobiography. This is because a good memoir must adhere to a set of rules and conventions that help it to appear as a legitimate piece of nonfiction. For example, a good memoir must present a balanced and objective picture of the subject matter; it should use a first-person narrative that is free of unnecessary details; and it should incorporate a bibliography containing appropriate citations.

Stories Of Nonfiction

Stories of nonfiction are, essentially, a hybrid form of creative nonfiction that incorporate both fact and fiction elements. Like a traditional narrative, a story of nonfiction will usually have an opening and a closing. These sections of the story will likely consist of a series of events that connect the main plot points and allow the reader to follow the narrative thread. As with a traditional nonfiction piece, the main goal of a story of nonfiction is to present an objective account of real-life events while still remaining as creative and engaging as possible.

The advantage of a story of nonfiction is that it melds the benefits of both traditional nonfiction and the more narrative-driven forms of creative nonfiction. This allows the author to incorporate unique perspectives and perspectives into their writing. Additionally, the objective facts of a story of nonfiction allow for a more structured and streamlined writing process. Finally, the use of actual events allows for the creative writer to experiment with different approaches to storytelling and unique language while still maintaining a degree of objectivity.

One major caveat with stories of nonfiction is that they can be rather difficult to craft. This is because the story elements must work in concert with one another to form a cohesive whole. Incorporating actual events into a creative nonfiction piece may require a significant amount of research and fact-checking to ensure that the events are presented in the proper sequence and that no major details are left out.

Narrative Essay

A narrative essay is a form of creative nonfiction that uses narrative as its primary mode of organization. It is, therefore, a series of events rather than a single long piece. A narrative essay is marked by a specific aesthetic, which some people may find difficult to grasp. Others may find it to be an efficient approach to writing, as it allows for a greater degree of flexibility in terms of the style and format that the piece will take.

The narrative essay is organized around a central story thread that the author weaves throughout the piece. This story thread is usually presented in the first-person as a stream of consciousness. As the title implies, a narrative essay is generally used for the purpose of storytelling and, therefore, the language will be a combination of descriptive and concrete. Even though it is not necessary, it is generally recommended that you avoid using parentheticals and other jargon in narrative essays.

On the other hand, the objective elements of a narrative essay will be more formal in nature and will, therefore, favor the use of standard English. The disadvantage of a narrative essay is that it can be somewhat difficult to edit. This is because the narrative technique makes it easy for the author to add new material at any point in the piece. While this can be a distinct advantage, it can also make the piece rather unwieldy and difficult to shape. On the whole, working with a professional editing service before publishing your work is highly recommended to make your narrative essays as polished and error-free as possible.

Creative Nonfiction Techniques

Nonfiction Techniques For Creative Nonfiction

While creative nonfiction authors have plenty of unique techniques that they can use to tell their story, there are a few basic guidelines that can be followed to make the writing process easier and more transparent.

One of the first things that any serious writer will do is to properly format their work. This means that you should use a consistent layout and a polished style that make the text easy to follow. Also, you should avoid using large amounts of un-needed or non-essential details in the writing. Being overly descriptive can also hurt the readability of your work as it makes it harder for the reader to follow the story. This is why you should generally use a more formal style when writing nonfiction. Additionally, you should seek the help of a professional editor who can help you to polish your work and ensure that it is ready to be published.