Literary Nonfiction

Literary nonfiction is a genre of writing which creates accurate narratives using literary styles and techniques. Literary nonfiction is often described as creative or narrative nonfiction.


In contrast with other forms of nonfiction, such as academic or technical writing or journalism, literary nonfiction is also rooted in accurate facts. But, it is also written to entertain based on writing style or florid prose. Different from literary journalism, creative nonfiction has a raw narrative, emotional power.


Literary fiction

Literary fiction brings the real world in closer for a better understanding while engaging an emotional response. It separates itself from Genre Fiction with the riveting storyline bases on reality.

When we read the works of Haruki Murakami, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Stephen King, Joyce and Faulkner, we are not escaping reality but diving into it.

Each of the reviews by the Art Matrix Review–including poetry, philosophical prose and literary non-fiction– -reflect on the words the way the reader would. To be touched by them in meaningful ways that affects our own realities. HuffPost describes literary fiction as comprised of the heart and soul of the writer’s being.

The reading and reviewing of this material is experienced as an emotional journey through the symphony of words, leading to a stronger grasp of the universe and of ourselves.


Formats of Literary Nonfiction

Formats of this type of writing includes memoirs, travel writing, poetry, essays, and biographies. Smilies, metaphors, hyperbole, onomatopoeia, personification and imagery or sensory details are used extensively in creative nonfiction



Text structure of creative nonfiction

Creative or literary nonfiction brings the personal essay and the journalistic essay together. Literary critic, Barbara Lounsberry suggests, in her book, The Art of Fact, that there are four key characteristics of literary nonfiction:

  1. subject matter is documentable as opposed to invented from the writer’s mind
  2. information is credible because it is based on exhaustive research
  3. the scene or context of events is revivified in contrast to the typical journalistic style of objective reportage
  4. the writing is fine in a literary prose style

Description: visuals: signal words

Literary nonfiction is created keeping in mind the text structure, visual structure and signal words. Each text structure has a visual and signal words associated with it. In the list below, I first write the text structure followed by the visual followed by the related signal words.

  1. Description: mind-map: for example …; for instance …; characteristics include …; specifically …; in addition….
  2. Sequence and order: visual of sections in order: before…; in the beginning …; to start …; first …; next …; during …; after …; then …; finally …; last…; in the middle …; in the end …
  3. Compare and contrast: a venn diagram: similar; same; just like; both; different; unlike; in contrast; on the other hand
  4. Cause and effect: tree diagram: since; because; if; due to; as a result of; so then; leads to; consequently
  5. Problem and solution: visualize a unhappy face and then a happy one: problem; issue; cause; since; consequently; therefore; as a result; because of; leads to; due to, solve, so, then

the art of creative nonfiction

In The Art of Creative Nonfiction, Lee Gutkind writes that ultimately, the primary goal of the creative nonfiction writer is to communicate information, just like a reporter, but to shape it in a way that reads like fiction.

The goal of creative nonfiction is that we make it read like fiction so that our readers are as enthralled by fact as they are by fantasy.

–Lee Gutkind, the ‘godfather’ of creative nonfiction

~namaste, Leah πŸ•Š

Leah J, M.Ed. Psychology, writer/artist/teacher
Β© Leah J.πŸ•Š The ART Matrix 2019
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πŸ•Š The ART Matrix publication creates, edits and reviews philosophical prose, literary nonfiction and poetry embracing holistic well-being.πŸ•Š