Are composite characters in creative non-fiction okay?

Asked by: Cindy Duran

Although many reputable creative nonfiction writers have no problem using composite characters, it raises more questions than it answers. How creative can you be and remain true to the nonfiction expectations of your reader? The simple answer would seem to be: Just tell the truth.

Why would a writer of nonfiction most likely include a composite character in their story?

Most writers believe that using a composite character is acceptable, providing the writer tells the reader, by including a disclaimer in the preface, or as an acknowledgement, or as a footnote in the memoir.

Does creative nonfiction have characters?

Characters are the soul of what’s come to be called creative nonfiction, an umbrella term that covers memoir, the personal essay and literary journalism, among others. But characters in nonfiction present special problems: While characters in fiction are often based on real people, there’s still that screen.

What is character in creative nonfiction?

A character is an individual (usually a person) in a narrative in a work of fiction or creative nonfiction. The act or method of creating a character in writing is known as characterization.

How true does creative nonfiction have to be?

For a text to be considered creative nonfiction, it must be factually accurate, and written with attention to literary style and technique. Lee Gutkind, founder of Creative Nonfiction magazine, writes, “Ultimately, the primary goal of the creative nonfiction writer is to communicate information, just like a reporter, …

What is the purpose of a composite character?

In a work of media adapted from a real or fictional narrative, a composite character is a character based on more than one individual from the story.

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How do composite characters work?

A composite character is a single person created from a combination of personalities and traits of several others. Proponents say composites are just another tool of the craft—a way to enhance and simplify your story. Writers use composites to protect the identities of the people they are writing about.

Why are characters important in creative nonfiction?

Because of their unique vantage points, characters can tell different stories about the same realities. This is, of course, true for our lives more generally. In addition to our differences in knowledge and experiences, we also interpret and understand events differently.

What makes a good creative nonfiction?

The Creative Nonfiction (CNF) genre can be rather elusive. It is focused on story, meaning it has a narrative plot with an inciting moment, rising action, climax and denoument, just like fiction. However, nonfiction only works if the story is based in truth, an accurate retelling of the author’s life experiences.

How do you create or develop characters in creative nonfiction?

  1. Establish the character’s story goals and motivations.
  2. Give the character an external and internal conflict.
  3. Make sure the character has strengths and flaws.
  4. Decide whether the character is static or dynamic.
  5. Give the character a past.
  6. Develop the character’s physical characteristics.
  7. What are the 5 R’s of creative nonfiction?

    Gutkind defines the essential elements of creative nonfiction as five “R’s”: real l ife, reflection, research, reading, and (w)riting. CNF is about real life experiences, and like journalists, CNF writers go to the places and people, immersing themselves in new experiences.

    What are the 7 elements of creative nonfiction?

    Elements of Creative Nonfiction

    • Fact. The writing must be based on fact, rather than fiction. …
    • Extensive research. …
    • Reportage/reporting. …
    • Personal experience and personal opinion. …
    • Explanation/Exposition. …
    • Essay format.

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