As a Mass Comm major, under option II, production, I found myself writing creative-nonfiction a lot.
To explain the genre of creative-nonfiction to readers, I’m going to compare it to the genre of the argument-essay. However, the similarities between them almost stop at their pursuit of a topic.
According to the Thompson Writing Program of Duke University, the argument-essay “presents a central claim (or claims, depending on length and purpose) and supports the claim(s) using an argument based on evidence and warrants (http://twp.duke.edu/uploads/media_items/argument-essay.original.pdf),” while creative-nonfiction, “involves writing from personal experience and/or reporting on other peoples’ experiences (http://twp.duke.edu/uploads/media_items/creative-nonfiction-1.original.pdf).”
One of the first primary differences between these genres is the difference between their goals. The goal of creative-nonfiction is just writing, while the goal of an argument-essay is to assert a claim. Given the latter, there isn’t as much room for personal experience in an argument-essay as there is in creative-nonfiction.
Unless one makes a claim somewhere in their pursuit of writing creative-nonfiction, which would take research to acquire the evidence and merits it takes to make, all one needs to write creative-nonfiction is personal experience. It all comes down to this ratio between research and personal experience that determines what form creative-nonfiction is going to take.
“Creative nonfiction encompasses memoir writing, biography and autobiography, oral history, and inspired reportage on almost any subject (http://twp.duke.edu/uploads/media_items/creative-nonfiction-1.original.pdf).”
The credibility of creative-nonfiction depends upon how well it encompasses one of these genres. One genre it failed to mention was the essay. With this in mind, creative-nonfiction can be almost anything, including an argument-essay. That’s why I said in the beginning that the similarities between creative-nonfiction, and argument-essays “almost stop at their pursuit of a topic.” It all comes down to this ratio between research and personal experience.
If there is enough research throughout a piece of creative-nonfiction to assert a claim, it can pass for an argument-essay. However, that isn’t the goal of creative-nonfiction.
“Creative nonfiction doesn’t necessarily look like a thesis-driven essay—its edges are softer, its language perhaps more inviting and (of course) creative—but it’s still important to know where you’re going and to make sure that each stage of the essay helps you to get there (http://twp.duke.edu/uploads/media_items/creative-nonfiction-1.original.pdf).”
Other than writing about any given topic, there isn’t really a goal in mind when it comes to writing creative-nonfiction. But if done well enough a goal can be unintentionally attained, and whether/not a piece of creative-nonfiction has done this is usually determined afterwards by its readers.
This is why in retrospect I think I wrote a lot of creative-nonfiction as Mass Comm major