The Role of Imagination in Creative Nonfiction

Commonplace Book Blog

Writing the truth as we see it — writing honestly — is not just about writing the facts, the way things are. Sometimes, it’s the way we hope things are, or how they could have been, or could be, or even were, as the case may be. Yes, sometimes, writing the truth is about imagining a different reality.

But let me back up.

The expectation of creative nonfiction, as its name implies, is that the writing is true.  Indeed, when it’s not true — when we find the writer has “made stuff up,” has intentionally deceived us — we feel betrayed as readers, as though the sacred contract between the writer and reader has been broken. But this intentional kind of deception is not what I’m referring to when talking about imagining a different reality in creative nonfiction.

Rather, I am writing about imagination as truth.

One of the things…

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