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Photo by Valerie Spence: Students in the J-term class, "Words and the Land" (2005) contemplate the woods of White Oak Sinks in a spontaneous moment of silence. Scroll down for another of Valerie's photos.
Characterization (of actual people)
Establishing a sense of place with details about the setting
Symbolism and figurative language such as metaphor
Narrative structuring for effect, such as rising tension or suspense
Other techniques such as stream of consciousness
Creative nonfiction is fact-based writing that uses personal experience, firsthand observation, interviews, and research to create works that have more depth, imaginative language, and originality than conventional journalism. Though the events and people in creative nonfiction works are factual, practitioners of that genre may use some of the techniques that we have traditionally associated with fiction:
Photo by Valerie Spence: One J-term excursion in Words and the Land took us alongside Third Creek in Knoxville, not the best place for swim.
To read an article about Third Creek's problems from UT's Daily Beacon, select here.
One of the best examples of creative nonfiction is George Orwell's "Shooting an Elephant," about his time as a policeman for imperialist Britain in Burma. In this essay, he uses nature--the elephant--as a metaphor, and creates a strong sense of place with his selection of concrete detail about the Burmese countryside and its inhabitants.
View a selected bibliography of creative nonfiction that addresses the natural world or creates a strong sense of place in nature. Read some excerpts of creative nonfiction concerning the environment. Please Email me me with excerpts or books to add to these lists.