It is like a Steinway piano.  Its good enough for all the art I can put in into it.  You can put Glenn Gould on a Steinway and the Steinway is still better than Glenn Gould.  Its good enough to hold all the art I can bring to it...and then some.    
(Mark Kramer, writer and teacher of Creative Nonfiction)

Writers have come to realize that the genre of nonfiction writing can be as colorful and gripping as any piece of fiction.  The difference is the nonfiction writers are not burdened with inventing characters, plot and description as everything they write about actually happened. Creative Nonfiction writers assemble the facts and events and array them artistically and stylistically using the descriptive techniques of the fiction writer.  They immerse themselves in a venue, set about gathering their facts while demonstrating scrupulous accuracy, and then write an account of what happened in their own voice. Students will become facile with the form through intensive field work, research and writing.

This program combines, Journalism, Field Research, and Literary  techniques.  We will study Folklore and Field Research to learn to pay attention to detail, and Journalism to learn how to construct a fact hierarchy and write a lead. Students will be introduced to the Focus Structure format, where the writer proceeds from the particular to the general. This is an excellent feature writing tool and we will spend some part of the quarter writing feature stories.  A main emphasis in Fall Quarter will be the diligent pursuit of venues for field observations in preparation for the writing the substantive final piece in Winter Quarter.

In the Winter we will continue the study of Creative Nonfiction, as well as hone our sensitivity to literature techniques, and students will begin work on the first draft of their major nonfiction piece.  The form allows the use of first person narration and literary conventions ordinarily forbidden in the writing of news copy.  It requires the writer to be immersed in a subject area over an extended period of time and demands careful attention to detail to assure accuracy.
John McPhee says, the piece of writing has a structure inside it.  It begins, goes along and ends in a manner that is thought out beforehand.  That being the case, all the writer has to do is find that architecture and the piece practically writes itself. This helps to define and describe the form of Creative Nonfiction.  The story and structure are already there and all the writer has to do is take the mallet and chisel and chip away the unnecessary marble encasing it to see the artistic form emerge.

Richard Rhodes, Creative Non-Fiction writer assembled the following list of descriptors of the form:

We will continue to study the form and discuss representative pieces written by noted authors like Joseph Mitchell, Jane Kramer, Susan Orlean and Tom Wolfe.  Following a period of redrafting and corrections, students will finish the polished piece and make a presentation to the group in the last week of Winter quarter.

Credit will be awarded in:  Feature Writing, Creative Nonfiction, Folklore,
Field Research and The Literature of Reality

Book List

Made by Tom Foote
Last Modified June 26, 2000