This month, in order to demonstrate the elasticity of the genre, I’m presenting four different types of creative nonfiction. I have no way of knowing for certain, but I wouldn’t be at all shocked if this was the first time these four subgenres—which are not an exhaustive list—have been identified and collected together.
One of the most intriguing kinds of creative nonfiction occurs when the writer combines personal experiences with elements of the scholarly essay, with the author becoming a kind of first-person character. “When I Use Big Words I’m Not Trying to Sound Smart,” by Marquis Bey, is a superb example of this subgenre, and I am sure that you will enjoy it both emotionally and intellectually.
“Inhale,” by Karen Boissonneault-Gauthier, is a fine example of creative nonfiction in the form of the short expository essay. Many readers are familiar with works of creative nonfiction that employ the narrative techniques of fiction. But how often do you encounter creative nonfiction that works as first-person exposition? Fortunately, Boissonneault-Gauthier is one author who knows how to compel her reader’s attention as she explores what might too readily be considered an esoteric subgenre, but which in her hands is a delight.
Creative nonfiction writers, by definition, are often interested in cross-genre experimentation, and they're apt to create any number and variety of multimedia projects. When Barbara Presnell first sent me her excellent piece, "The Photograph," she suggested that we embed some photographs at appropriate places in the text. Being able to see the photographs that relate to the story only adds to the story's appeal to the reader's heart and mind, and I'm sure you'll agree.
Finally, “Dinuguan in Captain Cook” by Rain Wright is an outstanding example of the “traditional” form of creative nonfiction, in which a true story is told using many of the elements of fiction writing, such as dialogue, character development, dramatic arc, and denouement. Reading Wright’s work is a rich experience, and you are going to be glad she chose to tell her story as a creative-nonfiction writer.