Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Joys of Creative Non-Fiction

Share |

Creative Non-Fiction, also called Literary Non-Fiction or sometimes the Literature of Fact, is basically non-fiction written like fiction. The "creative" or "literary" part comes from the use of literary devices like dialogue, foreshadowing, character development, emotion, word choice, etc. I got a crash course in this genre when I took a U of T Continuing Ed. course last year with Andrew Westoll, who won the 2012 Charles Taylor Prize for his book, The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary.

In our first class, Andrew went through the "subgenres" of this genre: personal essays, humour pieces, memoir, travel writing. Basically, anything but hard news writing. You often see this kind of writing in magazine articles or non-fiction books. Joan Didion is a good example of a creative non-fiction writer (and an amazing one at that!)

But creative non-fiction doesn't mean making stuff up. It's based on fact.

When Ian Brown, features writer for The Globe and Mail and author of the 2010 Charles Taylor winning book The Boy in the Moon, visited my magazine writing class at Ryerson last Friday he said there are two kinds of information. There's the information you need to live your life (news like the hockey strike, etc.) and then there's the information that makes your life worth living. Chances are you get the second kind of information from reading creative non-fiction pieces: stories that inform you of a subject, but also go deeper and create emotions, allowing you to become immersed in the story so you can't put it down.

Sounds like fiction, doesn't it?

I'll be back tomorrow with a post on writing classes.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Aya Tsintziras

Aya Tsintziras is the author of the YA novel Pretty Bones, which was selected for the Canadian Book Centre's Best Books for Kids and Teens in Spring 2012. She has a BA in Political Science from the University of Toronto and is currently pursuing a Masters of Journalism at Ryerson University.

Go to Aya Tsintziras’s Author Page