Discussion → Creative nonfiction and semi-autobiographical fiction

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    Ann Bogle
    Aug 16, 05:00pm

    Genre Markers at Ana Verse, January 1, 2007:


    "'Creative nonfiction' is intensely cumbersome as the name of a literary genre, and yet it must be the best name for it so far. I am using 'autobio.' to mean that the factual basis in the work ought to be honored by the writer and the reader as true, real, or echt (authentic and factual) and 'creative nonfiction' to mean the factual basis or sequence of life events--not meaning 'plot' in fiction--matters less than the artistry or creative arrangements at play in the work. 'Creative nonfiction' may advance mutable positions and boundaries."

    This is not a comment on length of work. My statement, above, was incorporated in the submission guidelines at Mad Hatters' Review first developed by Carol Novack and amended and discussed by the MHR editorial staff.

    Dinty W. Moore coined "creative nonfiction," I read somewhere online in a creative nonfiction context, yet cannot easily relocate the citation. Perhaps the name of the genre was by creative writing program consensus. Moore is former board president of AWP.

    Here is an interview with Moore. In it he says that the term first appeared in the early 90s:


    Here is another interview with Moore:


    Legalities concern me in writing about living persons. I studied fiction writing in workshop mainly (13 fiction workshops; 1 personal essay workshop; and 3 poetry workshops). Our sources for stories were protected by protocol against personal probing in fiction workshop. Poetry seems often to be about the speaker and his or her life experiences and acquaintances, family, and friends, yet it is not referred to as nonfiction poetry. Poetry is shelved in public libraries along with nonfiction rather than fiction.

    Essay means "attempt" in French, "essayer." Essay seems persuasive. Narrative essay may be persuasive. Memoir is story about first-person life.

    Here's another passage from "Genre Markers":

    "Semi- or half-fiction is a blend, a percentage, estimable by the writer and sometimes by 'characters,' of what actually has taken place and what could have taken place. It begins to replace what in fact did take place. It is a semi-fictionalized account, the exact details inherent in point-of-view. The 'character' assumes the life of a dramatic actor or model, similar to an artist's model, one who may or may not realize he or she is serving in that way."

    "Character development" as a phrase and idea still interests me, but "character" as a member of a story no longer attracts me. "Narrator" attracts me. "Members of the Story" is my term and also the title of one of my fiction short stories (published at Blip).

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