Creative Non-fiction

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Creative Non-fiction

  1. 1. Creative non-fiction Raymund B. Habaradas DBA-Advanced Methods of Research
  2. 2. Creative non-fiction Also referred to as:  Personal journalism  Literary journalism  Dramatic non-fiction  The new journalism  Parajournalism  The new non-fiction  The non-fiction novel  The literature of fact
  3. 3. Creative non-fiction (Cheney, 1991)  Requires the skill of the storyteller and the research ability of the reporter  Doesn’t just report facts; delivers facts in ways that move people toward a deeper understanding of the topic  Creative non-fiction writers must see beyond facts “to discover their underlying meaning”; they must “dramatize that meaning in an interesting, evocative, informative way.”
  4. 4. Why creative non-fiction?  Conventional thought: non-fiction’s purpose was not to entertain, but to inform, to teach, to lecture  Research findings: we learn best when we are at the same time entertained, when there is joy and pleasure in the learning; the strongest, most lasting memories are those embedded in emotion  Insight: Creative nonfiction writers inform their readers better by making the reading experience vivid and enjoyable
  5. 5. The new journalism, though often reading like fiction, is not fiction. It is, or should be, as reliable as the most reliable reportage, although it seeks a larger truth than is possible through the mere compilation of verifiable facts, the use of direct quotations, and adherence to the rigid organizational style of the older form. The new journalism allows, demands in fact, a more imaginative approach to reporting, and it permits the writer to inject himself into the narrative if he wishes, as many writers do, or to assume the role of a detached observer, as other writers do, including myself. - Gay Talese (one of the first and best practitioners of creative non-fiction) in his book Fame and Obscurity
  6. 6. There is a definite advantage to the newspaperman in recreating reality if he uses every conceivable literary avenue open to him; for his job, depending on the intensity of his sense of mission, is to penetrate ever more deeply into the truth of every story – and this can only be done if he has the instruments of language, narrative know-how, character-development, etc., that until now have always been associated with fiction. - Seymour Krim (a newspaperman) in Reporter as Artist
  7. 7. “…Of late, journalists have begun to pay more heed to the theories and techniques of the creative writer. The result has been the infusion of the drama and tension of fiction into the veracity of fact…. You can give your own writing extraordinary power by applying some of the fundamentals of dramatic literature to writing factual articles…. “The advantages of writing nonfiction in ‘story’ form are many. You get the reader involved. You make the reader want to know what happens next. You get the reader closer to the action or the personalities you portray. And, perhaps, you even come a little closer to ‘truth’” - Ken Metzler (a professor of journalism) in an article “Show, Don’t Tell: How to Write Dramatic Nonfiction” for the Ragan Report
  8. 8. Creative non-fiction uses vivid language. Richard Zelzer’s The Discus Thrower describes a man physically in very vivid language, one that gives us unexpected images, unexpected metaphors.
  9. 9. I spy on my patients. Ought not a doctor to observe his patients by any means and from any stance, that he might the more fully assemble evidence? So I stand in the doorways of hospital rooms and gaze. Oh, it is not all that furtive an act. Those in bed need only look up to discover me. But they never do. From the doorway of Room 542 the man in the bed seems deeply tanned. Blue eyes and close-cropped white hair give him the appearance of vigor and good health. But I know that his skin is not brown from the sun. It is rusted, rather, in the last stage of containing the vile repose within. And the blue eyes are frosted, looking inward like the windows of a snowbound cottage. This man is blind. This man is also legless – the right leg missing from midthigh down, the left from just below the knee. It gives him the look of a bonsai, roots and branches pruned into the dwarfed facsimile of a great tree. - Dr. Richard Seltzer in “The Discus Thrower”
  10. 10. Remember the vinegar ads years ago, in which contestants were asked to make mukhasim or mukha-asim faces, and they responded with grimaces and contortions? Funny and effective, yes, but the planners did not take into account the fact that many, if not most, Filipinos show faces of pleasure in reaction to the sourness of sinigang, manggang hilaw, sampalok, and many other gifts of our landscape. We like sourness; it is a true pleasure. We squint, we sip, we smile, we hum “saraaap!” We describe the perfect point as katamtaman, being on the exact edge of sourness versus saltiness, not too much (which brings mukhasim), not too little (matabang), but just right. - Doreen G. Fernandez in “Sour is Super”, Food Magazine, September 1998
  11. 11. Creative non-fiction uses emotions to arrive at the truth. George Will’s On Her Own in the City mentions concrete, realistic details about life in an East Harlem tenement to make a commentary about poverty and the welfare system. He utilizes conversation to provide “emotion”, i.e. to make the article more human, more understandable, and more memorable.
  12. 12. When police, responding to her call, arrived at her East Harlem tenement, she was hysterical: “The dog ate my baby.” The baby girl had been four days old, twelve hours “home” from the hospital. Home was two rooms and a kitchen on the sixth floor, furnished with a rug, a folding chair, and nothing else, no bed, no crib. “Is the baby dead?” asked an officer. “Yes,” the mother said, “I saw the baby’s insides.” Her dog, a German shepherd, had not been fed for five days. She explained: “I left the baby on the floor with the dog to protect it.” She had bought the dog in July for protection from human menaces. - George Will (a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist) in his Washington Post column “On Her Own in the City”)
  13. 13. Creative non-fiction stimulates the reader’s imagination. Gay Talese’s New York utilizes suggestive description. This kind of description suggests (and only suggests) something to the reader’s imagination, enabling it to bring to the description its own previous similar experiences in order to understand.
  14. 14. Excerpt from “New York” “New York City is a city of things unnoticed. It is a city with cats sleeping under parked cars, two stone armadillos crawling up St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and thousands of ants creeping on top of the Empire State Building. The ants probably were carried there by winds or birds, but nobody is sure; nobody in New York knows any more about the ants than they do about the panhandler who takes taxis to the Bowery; or the dapper man who picks trash out of Sixth Avenue trash cans; or the medium in the West Seventies who claims, ‘I am clairvoyant, clairaudient and clairsensuous.’”
  15. 15. New York City is a city for eccentrics and a center for odd bits of information. New Yorkers blink twenty-eight times a minute, but forty when tense. Most popcorn chewers at Yankee Stadium stop chewing momentarily just before the pitch. Gum chewers on Macy’s escalators stop chewing momentarily before they get off – to concentrate on the last step. Coins, paper clips, ballpoint pens, and little girls’ pocketbooks are found by workmen when they clean the sea lion’s pool at the Bronx Zoo. - Gay Talese, using suggestive description in his opening of the article “New York”
  16. 16. Creative non-fiction uses rhetorical strategies. Rhetoric is the art of using language effectively. It is also a means of persuasion (e.g. reasoning through content or logic, through passion and emotions, and through the merits and character of the speaker). For the Greeks and Romans, it is the art of elocution.
  17. 17. Some rhetorical strategies  Narration or storytelling  Description  Definition  Comparison and contrast  Classification  Illustration or exemplification  Analysis  Cause and effect  Argumentation and persuasion
  18. 18. Deadma 101 Our word for the day is dedma. Etymology. Dedma is the attenuated form of the English words dead malice. Dead malice, in turn, is the literal translation of the Tagalog expression, patay malisya. It is conjugated thus: dedma, dinedma, dededmahin. I remember my consternation at first hearing dedma used in ordinary conversation. A friend was describing a chance public encounter between one couple, A and B, and another couple, Y and Z.
  19. 19. Now A had once been seriously involved with Z, and B had been on the verge of marrying Y, not to mention that A and Y had been the closest of buddies, so close in fact that they were rumored to be having a homosexual relationship. Plus B and Z were cousins, so you can imagine the possibilities for going ballistic. The spectators licked their chops and held their breaths in anticipation of a juicy, scandalous scene, and then… “Nagdedmahan silang lahat!” my friend exclaimed with glee. In other words, they averted an ugly confrontation through dedma. - Jessica Zafra, in the article “Deadma 101”, Today (10 February 1994); Twisted (Anvil Publishing, 1996)
  20. 20. Applications of creative nonfiction  History  Travel essays  Character sketches / profiles  Personal reflections / memoirs  Journalism  Nature  Science and technology  Business writing  Popular culture
  21. 21. Creative nonfiction in business?  Creative non-fiction is basically expressing facts through storytelling.  Storytelling is an effective tool for persuading people.  Persuasion is key in business dealings, i.e., with customers, suppliers, employees, colleagues, bosses, investors, and business partners.  Management gurus also utilize creative non- fiction techniques to sell their books / ideas.
  22. 22. “Father came home from work, gave mother a hug, and proudly announced that the Computing Tabulating Recording Company, henceforth would be known by the grand name International Business Machines. I stood in the doorway of the living room thinking, ‘That little outfit?’ Dad must have had in mind the IBM of the future. The one he actually ran was still full of cigar- chomping guys selling coffee grinders and butcher scales.” - Thomas J. Watson Jr., as quoted by Collins and Porras (2002) in “Built to Last”
  23. 23. “[To] build a motor car for the great multitude…. It will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one – and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces. …everybody will be able to afford one, and everyone will have one. The horse will have disappeared from our highways, the automobile will be taken for granted.” - Henry Ford, talking about his dream “to democratize the automobile”, as quoted by Collins and Porras (2002) in “Built to Last”
  24. 24. “The most important skills of the real-world management researcher are not in the methodology or observation and statistics but the novelist’s skills of imagination, sensitivity and empathy with other human beings. “His hypotheses are derived by insights from his experience, broadened by scholarship and deepened by introspection. His insights are finally validated by their conformity with the human experience of his readers, across cultures and over time. The “generalization” of his findings ultimately consists in the breadth and depth of their acceptance. “The great management theories, like the great novels, are those that continue to be meaningful as the reader’s experience and knowledge accumulate over the years.” - Ramon K. Katigbak in Management Theory as Creative Non-fiction (8 September 2005)
  25. 25. Creative non-fiction Raymund B. Habaradas DBA-Advanced Methods of Research

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