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22 May 2015
Creative Nonfiction: The Two-Faced Genre
The Creative Nonfiction Foundation is an online journal that publishes a variety of styles
within the genre of creative nonfiction. The editor, Lee Gutkind, often publishes an article that
appears at the front of each issue. The purpose of these articles is unique to the issue. They
explain or elaborate on the theme, or the elements of that particular subject. In the fourth issue,
“Creative Nonfiction Classics,” Gutkind writes “The Creative Nonfiction Approach.” The
readers, most likely middle-aged Americans in the upper middle-class (male or female) who
have at least a college diploma and write recreationally or professionally (such as a freelance
journalist, a high school English teacher or a scriptwriter), had several misconceptions about
what it means to be creative and truthful. Gutkind addresses how these two faces interact to
accomplish the “creative nonfiction” genre.
The creative face is the way the nonfiction element is approached. Just because an author
has a unique writing style or voice and writes about something factual, doesn’t make it creative
nonfiction. The factual part of the genre is more than news bulletins. The truth is a truth that is
unique to the author. The misconception is that creativity makes a piece void of truth. Because a
work is creative, “(…) it certainly can’t be accurate, believable or ethical (…)” (Gutkind 1).
Gutkind identifies creative nonfiction authors as “creative, personally truthful, and
generally informational” (2). This essentially means that imagination in the creation of scene,
dialogue, imagery, description and metaphor combines with the author’s own honest thoughts.
By looking at this article alone, the reader can get a sense of how Gutkind thinks about
creative nonfiction and how writer might approach submitting to this online publication.
Not every piece in Creative Nonfiction Online Journal has the same tone, there are some
articles that are witty, sarcastic, thoughtful, playful, some are more analytical, others more
serious or somber.
The subject of each article is centered around a tangible place or object and the narrator’s
own experience and thoughts in encountering that object. The subjects don’t focus on
demographics or general subjects, but rather the retelling of a specific event and the narrator’s
thoughts, inferences and assumptions about the implications of that event, object or place. There
is no mention of political issues or national issues, but the articles have a classic feel to them in
that they could be put in any time frame and be relevant because human thought and emotion are
Gutkind, Lee. "The Creative Nonfiction Approach." Creative Nonfiction Foundation 4(2005) 1-
2. 13 Oct 2008
Sherman, Lucy. "At a Turn in the Road." Creative Nonfiction Foundation 81-6. 13 Oct 2008