Exploring Creativity in NonFiction

in creativecoin •  6 months ago 

For those helping out with curating the contributions to the Creative Coin tribe on Steem getting a clear sense of what is included has been an interesting challenge. Some aspects of creativity is very easy to get.

  • An artist draws a picture, it’s creative.
  • A musician writes or records a song, it’s creative.
  • A photographer shoots a subject, it’s creative.
  • A writer writes a piece of fiction, it’s creative.
  • A poet writes a poem, it’s creative.

How hard can it be to figure out what is creative? Harder than you might think.

Let’s start with the photographer. I know many people think they can snap pictures and be a photographer. What you think and reality are two different things. I’m not a photographer. I might occasionally get lucky and take a great shot, but, it’s pure luck.

A real photographer knows how to frame their work. They know how to have the camera tell most of the story. Some photographers tend to think the shot tells the whole story.

Sorry mate, for a luddite like me, you need to add some words to tell me the story.

Creativity is About the Story

Fiction writers kind of have it easy being seen as a creative. They make up stories and share them, they are being creative. The only real question is if they have made up a good story, created good characters and then told the story in a way that compels the reader to follow it through to the end.

If you think that is easy, you probably haven’t taken the responsibility of creating good content for your reader very seriously. No matter the length, it has to follow the principles of storytelling.

What is the Difference Between Nonfiction and Creative Nonfiction?

It’s when we get to nonfiction that so many gray areas arrive. There is nonfiction and then there is creative nonfiction which is also known as creative narrative, personal essays, literary nonfiction etc.

Getting the idea where the gray comes in? Creative nonfiction doesn’t fit neatly into a little box. It does however have some basic elements which define it.

Creative nonfiction is the difference between telling the facts and telling the facts in a story form. Let’s look at a simple example:

Telling the facts:

I get up in the morning, feed my cat, make my coffee and then start my morning work.

Telling the facts as a story:

I swear my eyelids make a noise as they open. The moment they open there is Hobo sitting attentively on the nightstand. She’s both saying good morning and letting me know she wants that food.

She’ll sit patiently on the edge of the kitchen sink while I make my coffee and refresh her water and dry food. The moment I pick up the dish for her wet food, she’s following it, like a cat hunting it’s prey, until I set it down for her to eat.

Then I can start my day. The queen has been attended to.


See the difference between the two?

There is something else which is necessary in creative nonfiction. There needs to be a personal element and it needs to be true.

The writer Annie Dillard describes creative nonfiction as “the formation of text, the creation of piece of art, just like any painting or musical composition. Your life and the life of the world is your raw material, as much a part of the mix as is the paint, the chords, the words. Your subjects might be any part of this world.”

A lot of my writing is creative nonfiction. Sometimes it is a thin line between when I’m reporting the facts and being creative. If my narrative is in story form and I have included my perspective, I generally treat it as creative nonfiction.

If I’m more about telling the facts, then it is nonfiction. This piece has some elements of creative fiction but it’s more nonfiction than creative nonfiction in the style of writing.

I hope this helps to give you a clearer picture of the difference between the two styles.

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Hi Shadowspub

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I can see the point that you make about the difference between creative non fiction and regular non fiction. Much of my writing on my posts probably fits into the regular non fiction category. I'm not the best story teller.... :-)

Really helpful, thank you. I'm struggling with curating some of the gardening and food-related posts, mainly because posters are not understanding the difference between reporting or documenting and creative non-fiction.

so this is what you're talking about in rumble, lol
It's ashamed that I used the tag creativecoin but my writing's was not creative, lol

anyway thanks for the information

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Very educational. Me? More of a verbal communicator. I have never been much for writing. I can tell a whopper of a tale though ! I like to consume the work of others, I guess there is a place for folks like me. Most of my ideas have always been building on the ideas of other people.

I go by the old adage...

Quoting one person is plagiarism and quoting many people is research.

Guess I will give up any dreams I have of being a creative fiction writer. 🤣

Really excellent description @shadowspub!

I am reminded of one of my creative writing teachers from way-back-when who described the entire process as "painting with words."

That has always stuck with me, and I have lately come to realize that it has informed many of my choices in non-fiction books... I like cookbooks that are about "the story" of cooking a particular dish. Anyone can create a list of ingredients, but there's an extra "something" that goes into making that list of ingredients "come to life" in such a way that you actually want to go to your kitchen and try something new.

As an interesting aside, I was never much good at fiction because I kind of suck at character development, but I am really good at setting the scene for those characters to "do something" within... hence, creative non-fiction is a "natural space" for me...

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Every time I want to put the creativecoin tag, I look at my post and go nah-ah....
Today finally, I could look at a post and say Yes, there's some sort of creativity... I hope
I find it harder to use this tribe tag compared to the others...

By the way, I do like what you did with your photo... :D
And Hobo's feed time <33

As you say, most of my writing comes into the non-fiction area.., but thanks for the insight. Your not the first to make this distinction of the creative element. I think I'm good now!

It's going to be a lot of fun the find and process the discussions surrounding this subject. For me there's a part that thinks creativity is 'clear' and 'intuitive' but it's not always the case. I'm already getting the idea: if people post a picture they think it's creative, or they put creative in the title or somewhere in the post and think 'that is all there's to it'. It will be a learning experience both for those that already feel they know what is creative, as well as for those that always thought they were creative and now they don't get that confirmed in the form of upvotes.

Good simple example on creative writing :-) Thanks for sharing that.

Or people are applying their creativity to investing or technology or gaming ...

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