Creating Narrative Nonfiction

Creating Narrative Nonfiction

Narrative nonfiction is a favorite genre of mine as it allows one to blend story-telling with factual information. The genre is also known by other names, such as creative nonfiction and literary journalism.  If you’re a writer who’s never attempted this genre but would like to, the following information may prove valuable as you delve into your own narrative nonfiction stories.

Narrative nonfiction is based in fact.

Like I mentioned in the introduction, this type of writing delivers factual information or events in a way that reads like a story. The genre may be termed “creative”, but this does not give the writer license to embellish the facts or invent information. Instead, you employ story-telling elements, like scenic development and characterization, to present the information. Memoir is another example of this type of nonfiction.

Short narrative nonfiction is focused.

At Montana Mouthful, we ask that your stories be 2000 words or less. In this case, like short fiction, your creative nonfiction piece should be focused. Don’t attempt to tell too many stories at once.  For example, maybe you wish to write about your experience as a volunteer at a homeless shelter. Instead of attempting to summarize several experiences that took place at the shelter, perhaps you focus on how you helped one particular person overcome poverty.

Narrative nonfiction is better with a purpose.

Will your story uncover secret scandals, share insights, or give people hope? To me, the best nonfiction is more than entertainment. I love a story that challenges my truths, opens my heart, or leaves me more knowledgeable about the world.

Narrative nonfiction keeps the story moving.

Start in the action. Recreate the scene. Provide vivid descriptions of the individuals and events. Pretend your readers are watching a movie (they are in their minds!). How will you write, so your readers experience the information? Remember to incorporate sensory information to bring your scenes to life.

At Montana Mouthful, we love a wonderful creative nonfiction story, and we look forward to reading yours! Good luck!