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How to Write a Creative Nonfiction Essay: An Expert Guide 

Consider this: Late at night, the blue glow of a laptop screen, a disheveled writer in an old t-shirt types slowly, agonizing over every word. Nothing seems quite right. The backspace key clicks furiously until the screen contains nothing but a blank white page and a blinking cursor. Does that sound like you? Did you recognize this introduction as a piece of creative writing?

Creative nonfiction combines the rigor of nonfiction writing with the artistry of fiction, but that balance can be a challenge to pull off. If you are looking to write a creative nonfiction essay, you will likely be interested in learning how to turn your subject into an artistic, creative, and compelling narrative. For this guide to writing a creative nonfiction essay, we turned to the paper writing experts at WriterMyPaperHub for insight into the best way to explore the world of creative nonfiction for maximal results. These experts have written thousands of essays for clients across the country and around the world, and their expertise can help shed light on the best strategies for creating a creative nonfiction essay.

Creative Nonfiction Writing in Five Facets

We cannot promise to make you a great non-fiction writer in a week, it is hardly possible. However, if you make it a rule to follow the next tips when creating your non-fiction essays, you will soon realize that your papers are graded higher and the writing process itself gets much easier. However, we need to remind you, that it is not enough just to read this article, you actually need to use tips given in it every time you face such an assignment. Let’s get started.

  1. Tell an interesting story. It might go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: A piece of creative nonfiction needs to be interesting and memorable. If the story isn’t interesting enough to read, then the audience isn’t going to read it. So, be sure to capture your audience’s attention. Consider this: Studies show that we remember stories better than we do abstract facts or numbers. To that end, it’s often more effective to use an anecdote or a story to convey a major point rather than let a bare fact stand by itself, especially if you want the audience to remember your main point long after they’ve read your essay.

  2. Bait the hook to lure readers in. A creative nonfiction essay’s most important sentence is the first one. It sets the tone for the essay and also lures the reader in with something compelling to pique their interest and make them want to read more. Start your essay with a fascinating introduction to command attention. You might start with a personal or historical anecdote, a compelling quotation, a dramatic question, or something else to make the reader take notice.

  3. Emphasize emotion in your writing. News reports and academic essays prioritize factual data, but they can be dry. Too many facts without anything for them to stick to can create a cold, somewhat unfeeling essay. After all, no one mistakes Wikipedia for great literature. Instead, include emotional language in a creative nonfiction essay. The more that you can make your reader feel what you are writing, the more you can connect with the reader. Use concrete nouns, evocative words and phrases, and metaphors to help give your essay a colorful, memorable spin that will dress up even the driest facts.

  4. Keep it simple. Creative nonfiction gives writers the freedom to explore ideas and topics in a compelling, colorful way, but that shouldn’t be license to go overboard with complicated language and fancy words. Empurpled prose might be good for the Bulwer-Lytton bad writing contest, but in your own essays, keep it simple, clear, and direct. Your essay should convey your ideas in everyday language. Instead of using a ten-dollar polysyllabic word, choose the simplest version that conveys your intended meaning. For example, “bedecked with encrustations” sounds pompous, but “covered in crusty lumps” is simpler, clearer, and more evocative. The same goes for grammar. Instead of a hundred-word sentence with multiple clauses and coordinating conjunctions, use short, clear, declarative sentences.

  5. Offer a few surprises. One of the most exciting elements of fiction is its unpredictability. When you read a piece of fiction, you never know what’s going to happen next. But when you read a piece of nonfiction, too often you know everything it’s going to say before you get past the first paragraph. Use some of the methods of fiction—without making anything up—to pace out information in a way that creates tension and a few genuine surprises. You want your reader to feel like they just read a dramatic, emotional, compelling story—not an encyclopedia entry. Use what you know about the pacing and structure of novels and short stories to give your creative nonfiction a compelling shape.

Study How Fiction Works and Jump Into Action

Now that you know what to do, it’s also important to think about how you can gain insight into creative nonfiction. One of the best ways to build your skill is to read good fiction. Pay attention to how authors develop their characters, pace out the story, and arrange the plot. By studying how fiction handles these aspects of writing, you can apply what you’ve learned to nonfiction writing and create a compelling—and true—story of your own.

If you enter any online or offline bookstore or library, you will see hundreds if not thousands of popular non-fiction books with a variety of topics. No one can say that non-fiction is boring. People read much more non-fiction books these days because it helps them to stay within the informational development. It is important to read non-fiction to know how to write it. Non-fiction has its own storytelling style that ensures engagement with minimum creative means. It is not an easy task, but it is certainly doable. What is your favorite non-fiction book? Reread it this week and mark the places that made you want to continue reading.


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