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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Lessons in Creative Nonfiction

Jean Braithwaithe, the former director of the MFA program at UT/Pan American who is the creative nonfiction person there, did a presentation on creative nonfiction to my beginning CW class this Friday. With two new books of creative nonfiction coming out early next year, "Saving Sebastian," and "The One True Cat: a Memoir with Cats," I was very happy to learn new things about this umbrella term and the various subgenres that fit under it. Did you know that the script of a documentary film is considered creative nonfiction? I learned was that creative nonfiction outsells literary fiction and poetry combined.

I also learned that rather than lie, you can say, "I don't remember if this happened on the same day for sure or not, but in my mind it did." You can even signal you're going to write a fictional scenario within the creative nonfiction piece, or a fantasy scenario. David Sederis does this.

Jean read from her upcoming book, "Fat," and detailed the motives of a young woman who would turn to throwing up to keep her weight down.  In the part of her memoir published in Sy Syfranky's Sun Magazine, she heartbreakingly detailed the taunting she got as a child for being overweight from both girls and boys.

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