Creative Nonfiction: True Stories that Entertain

Sometimes I think the world is divided into two camps: those who read novels, and those who prefer nonfiction. But if the reading world were instead a Venn diagram of intersecting circles, the center space would belong to the category of writing known as "creative nonfiction." The general reader might describe it as "nonfiction that reads like a novel." Lee Gutkind, one of the champions of this genre, explains that creative nonfiction stories are "dramatic, true stories that use scene, dialogue and close, detailed descriptions—techniques usually employed by poets and fiction writers—to examine and explore a variety of subjects: politics, economics, sports, race relations, family relations, the arts and sciences and more."

Gutkind is the founding editor of Creative Nonfiction, the first and still the largest literary magazine for creative nonfiction. It's a great magazine for both writers and readers. Each issue features articles of general interest, typically several essays around a particular theme, and thoughtful articles for practitioners of the craft of creative nonfiction. The CNF Editorial Board is like a who's who of the literati, from the worlds of fiction and nonfiction alike: Rick Moody, Francine Prose, Jonathan Franzen, Gay Talese and many others.

The magazine also features open submission calls and contests. The current contest, which will be judged by author Susan Orlean and comes with a $5,000 prize, asks writers to enter essays about "the night," and lists the following requirements: "Essays must be vivid and dramatic; they should combine a strong and compelling narrative with a significant element of research or information, and reach for some universal or deeper meaning in personal experiences. We're looking for well-written prose, rich with detail and a distinctive voice."

Those requirements also describe what you will find within the pages of this Character Approved literary magazine. Creative Nonfiction is filled with excellent writing that entertains, informs, and will appeal to even the most dedicated fiction reader.