Essays About Creative Non-Fiction: Top 5 Examples and 10 Prompts

Check out our essay examples and writing prompts guide if you’re writing essays about creative non-fiction.

Creative non-fiction is a skilled and artistic way of telling stories based on true accounts, facts, and interviews. It can include essays, long-form articles, or books. Writing creative non-fiction can be very challenging when writing a literary work as it combines in-depth research and authentic, creative storytelling.

This work requires great attention to detail and getting the facts straight while keeping your readers engaged with your imaginative writing style. In short, authors of creative non-fiction enjoy the best — as well as the paramount challenges — of both the journalistic and poetic worlds. 

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5 Intriguing Essay Examples

1. Whatever You Write, There You Are  by Kristen Martin

“Creative nonfiction can take many forms, be it a meandering lyric essay or long-form narrative journalism, and its practitioners don’t always agree on how creative one can be with the truth.”

For the most part, the authors of creative non-fiction have to constantly choose between sharing their personal experiences and the universal. While creative non-fiction seems biased toward the latter, authors surprisingly understand their inner selves more deeply when they embark on an outward journey to explore material facts. Nine creative non-fiction authors share their experiences of this so-called “backdoor memoir” phenomenon.

2. The 5 Rs Of Creative Nonfiction Story by Lee Gutkind

“What is most important and enjoyable about creative nonfiction is that it not only allows but encourages the writer to become a part of the story or essay being written. The personal involvement creates a special magic that alleviates the suffering and anxiety of the writing experience; it provides many outlets for satisfaction and self-discovery, flexibility and freedom.”

Gutkind lets readers into his 5R techniques of being a creative non-fiction journalist. These Rs are real, reflection, research, reading, and riting. This immersion journalist, whose extensive experience included participating in an open-heart surgery as a wallflower observer, talks about the main elements of creative non-fiction while writing one along the way.

3. Svetlana Alexievich’s Nobel Prize Is A Huge Win For Nonfiction Writing by Katy Waldman

“After conducting hundreds of interviews, she arranges people’s intimate testimonies into a choir of almost impersonal witness; the resulting works have been called “novels-in-voices,” immersions in experience that are governed by a fierce, purposeful intellect.”

The Swedish Academy surprised the world in 2015 as it awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature to a creative non-fiction writer, marking a first in half a century since it happened. The move makes a resounding statement in the literary world on the essence of reportorial documentation after years of its unacceptance and criticism as a literary work.

4. Africa’s Cold Rush And The Promise Of Refrigeration by Nicola Twilley

“Over the next four or five hours, as the heat of the day sets in, gradually wilting the cassava leaves and softening the tomatoes, these men will cover hundreds of miles, carrying food from the countryside to sell in markets in the capital, Kigali.”

In this remarkably creative non-fiction, a journalist poignantly and painstakingly chronicles the daily hardships in Rwanda, where men rise before dawn and help bring food to the market in the next town, often just in the nick of time before spoilage. Twilley immerses in Rwanda and its cold chain problem, interviewing scientists, cold economy experts, and policymakers who all work toward making refrigeration happen for the African country. 

5. Legends Of The Fall by Chiqui Jabson Chua

“In the foothills of western Kyoto, towering bamboo trees sway in the mild wind, turning the sunlight into a delicate jade. Nearby, temples and villas sit amid fine gardens and, not too far uphill, a town pulsates with living traditions from ancient Japan.”

This article is an enjoyable descriptive non-fiction piece, giving us a Kyoto tour in early fall and autumn. We follow the author on her commute through an urban neighborhood, up to the mountain, and into one temple after another. With the author’s vivid imagination and ingenuity for words, the readers are led on to a journey in Japan as though they are experiencing firsthand the stillness of Kyoto’s green trails and the serene beauty of its mountainous landscape. 

10 Great Writing Prompts on Essays About Creative Non-fiction

1. Types of Creative Non-Fiction Writing

List down the many types of creative non-fiction and explain how they simultaneously promote the presentation of facts and creative storytelling. Like this guide, you may also find your best picks for each type of creative non-fiction. 

2. Creative Non-Fiction Writing Tips

Essays About Creative Non-fiction: Creative non-fiction writing tips
Explain how these author techniques helped the authors achieve their desired effects

Taking tips from some of the essay examples above, determine the common denominators in the authors’ techniques in producing creative non-fictional works. Then, explain how these techniques helped the authors achieve their desired effects.

3. A Personal Memoir

If you were to write your memoir, what events would you be putting in the spotlight? For your essay, imagine how you would structure your memoir. You can choose either a sad or joyous event. What matters the most is to describe memorable experiences so that you can narrate them in exact detail. To ensure your essay will enthrall your readers, read our storytelling guide

4. A Travel Guide and Experience Essay

A travel guide and experience essay
For this easy, recall a trip, or embark on a new adventure

Traveling creates wanderlust, a desire to feed yourself with new information and experiences. For this easy, recall a trip, or embark on a new adventure. First, write about the culture of the place and the people around you. Next, describe the place and culture and share the most important lessons you have learned from this adventure. Finally, describe the other future adventures you’d like to go on.

5. Business Writing

Business writing is not a usual source of attraction for several writers — especially for writers who chose to write because they despised math. There are joys never imagined in weaving stories from numbers. In this essay, offer your readers some tips to enjoy and make a profit in writing creative non-fictional pieces about business.

6. A Memorable Family Gathering

For this writing prompt, recount a memorable gathering with family and relatives. To make this pass as creative non-fiction, first detail the purpose of the gathering, the settings, and the decorations as vividly as you can. Then, describe each family member present and their unique qualities that make them unforgettable. Finally, recount the conversations and the emotions surging in you as they chattered away. 

7. The Story Behind A Painting

Pick a painting that captivates you the most and try to peel into its layers of meaning by researching its history, the stories, and the people that inspired the painter of the work. Next, try to mull the connection between the painting’s story and yours. This could explain what made you entranced at first glance. 

8. Creative Non-Fiction Works You Love

If there are creative non-fiction literary works that have shaped who you are today, talk about them in your essay and elaborate on the reasons you have admired the author’s thoughts. Then, convince your readers to pick up this book to see their self-transformation. 

9. An Unforgettable Lesson In Class

Some classroom lessons succeed in keeping us engrossed in learning. Some could form the foundations of a hobby, while some could be our first step toward a professional career path. In this essay, reminisce on a class lecture you will never forget. Explain briefly what the subject matter was at the time and what your professor said about it that was forever etched on your memory. 

10. The Person Who Inspires You the Most

Each of us has an idol we look up to as an inspiration to reach our goals, whether a historical figure, a fictional character, or a living personality. Share yours and write a piece of creative non-fiction about their story as a hero. Then, point out their qualities, achievements, or advocacies that made you realize your bigger ambitions, find confidence, and believe in yourself. 

If you liked this article and want to put these ideas into practice, check out our round-up of storytelling exercises.

Author

  • Yna Lim is a communications specialist currently focused on policy advocacy. In her eight years of writing, she has been exposed to a variety of topics, including cryptocurrency, web hosting, agriculture, marketing, intellectual property, data privacy and international trade. A former journalist in one of the top business papers in the Philippines, Yna is currently pursuing her master's degree in economics and business.