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#CRLiterature is a hub for all things Literature on deviantART. Run by the Literature Community Volunteers and community members, you should watch us to keep track of goings-on throughout the Literature community.

We post monthly news updates from the Community Volunteers, as well as contests, prompts, and chat events from throughout the community!

Literature Basics Week

What is Creative Nonfiction?

Creative nonfiction is a popular category choice on deviantaART, and its one of those forms of writing we're exposed to on a much greater scale than perhaps we realise. Creative Nonfiction doesn't mean exaggerating, but making real stories well written. Examples can be found in news articles, biographies, literary journalism, travel/food writing and even personal essays. The scale of what Creative nonfiction covers is large, but its all about good execution that makes this form of writing effective.

I sometimes find it easier to start these kind subjects to discuss firstly what the subject isn't. In a generalisation, there are many people who assume that creative nonfiction is a chance to rant about your real life in an informal way and consider it as creative writing. It is also not technical writing, which falls into its own genre. However, Creative nonfiction goes into a much deeper style of writing, turning those rants into something genuinely creative- created not just for personal expound, but to entertain or move your readers. As most forms of writing, your audience plays a key role. Here is a more expert definition:

One of my favorite words to attach to the art of creative nonfiction writing is the word “actual.” I prefer the word actual to the word truth. Fiction writers insist that they too write the truth, and that they must invent in order to tell this truth. I prefer the word actual to the word fact. Facts alone are too dry, and too absent of association. I prefer the word actual to the word real. What is and is not real is continually up for grabs. Do we know, for instance, what is a real woman? A real man? The word real is too laden with assumption. I prefer the word actual because it refers to simple actuality. We begin a work of creative nonfiction not with the imaginary but with the actual, with what actually is or actually was, or what actually happened. From this point we might move in any direction, but the actual is our touchstone. Barriejeanborich


The term "creative nonfiction" is a simple mashup of two very familiar concepts interlocking to create one form. By "Creative" we mean being able to use the same concepts in writing as you would in normal creative writing- its the good creativity that creates a good rapport with your audience, keeping their interest in your writing. It's what encourages the interest in the facts.

The word “creative” has been criticized in this context because some people have maintained that being creative means that you pretend or exaggerate or make up facts and embellish details. This is completely incorrect. It is possible to be honest and straightforward and brilliant and creative at the same time.
"Creative” doesn’t mean inventing what didn’t happen, reporting and describing what wasn’t there. It doesn’t mean that the writer has a license to lie. The cardinal rule is clear—and cannot be violated. This is the pledge the writer makes to the reader—the maxim we live by, the anchor of creative nonfiction: “You can’t make this stuff up!”


Perhaps an easier term for us all to understand, "Non-fiction" simply means accurate and factual. The writing needs to have a baseline of reality to it and that baseline remain continuous in the piece.

Types of Creative Nonfiction

:bulletblack: Personal Essays
:bulletblack: Memoirs
:bulletblack: Literary Journalism
:bulletblack: Travel and Food Writing
:bulletblack: Blogging/Diary writing
:bulletblack: Nonfiction Narratives

Questions for the reader:

:bulletblack: What examples of creative nonfiction have you found, both offline and on deviantART that you've enjoyed?
:bulletblack:  What do you think makes those pieces effective?
:bulletblack: Have you tried writing any creative nonfiction yourself? What was your experience like?


Literature Basics Week

Okay, so maybe not everything. But there's a lot of stuff that I remember learning in middle and high school that turned out to not actually work for me -- or for pretty much anybody -- as a writer.  I'm hoping that if I can lay these lies out for you, we cans turn it around and unlearn some of these bad habits. Because, man, nothing says "noob" like practicing some of these frequently-taught faux pas.

Lie #1: Be super duper descriptive!


Wait, wait, I know what you're thinking. Descriptive language is good, right? You want your reader to know what you're talking about, and to be able to see, smell it, hear it, touch it, taste it the way you do in your head. The problem is that, when it comes to description, a little bit goes a long way.  Sometimes, it's about finding a better word to use, instead of a string of adverbs and adjectives to go with your verb or noun.  You know, you could say "She skulked through the forest" instead of "She walked sneakily through the heavily-wooded area."  See what I mean?  Now, that's kind of an obvious one, but when you go to write, here's a good trick to keep in mind: modifiers are evil. They are sneaky and they will slip into your poetry and prose without you even noticing. Your job, as a writer, is to keep an eye on those things.

Modifiers -- like adverbs and adjectives -- are words that describe other words. They should be used sparingly. Otherwise, you're going to have a mess on your hands. When you're writing, always ask yourself, do I need this word? Or is there something simpler and equally descriptive that I could use here?

SO HERE'S THE TRUTH: Use descriptive language and sensory details, choosing words carefully. Every word you put on the page should be a word that NEEDS to be there.

Lie # 2: Show off your vocabulary!


Some writers I've run into have a penchant for tossing around five dollar words. It's almost as if they want the reader to know that they totally nailed the vocab section on their SATs. The thing is, creative writing isn't about what you know, it's about telling a story in the smoothest way possible. So why use "loquacious" if you could say "chatty?" Think about how your narrator or point-of-view character would think and speak. Think of how the people around you speak. If you can't imagine someone using that word in a conversation, it's probably a no-go. When it comes to five-dollar words, they should be sprinkled, not poured, into your writing.

SO HERE'S THE TRUTH: If you want your writing to feel authentic, use authentic language. Use those five dollar words sparingly!

Lie #3: Spice up your speech tags!


Here's the thing about speech tags: They should be invisible. The reader should pretty much not notice them at all. I mean, there's a reason that you sometimes don't even need them -- like in an extended conversation between two characters.  There are pretty much only two speech tags you will ever need: "said" and "asked." (You can, and should, of course, alter the tense as needed.) You may be able to slip in a "screamed" or a "replied" here and there, but sticking to the basics is always the better option. You don't want your reader getting hung up on speech tags when she should be paying attention to the conversation and the story.

Another word on speech tags: Using simple tags like "said" and "asked" doesn't give you carte blanche to start throwing adverbs around. "She said, angrily" or "he asked, jokingly" is just as much of an offense as not using a simple speech tag. If someone is speaking angrily or jokingly, that should show in the words they're using, and in the body language in the scene.  This is a great case of "show, don't tell," which, thankfully, is a lesson from school that you can hold onto.

SO HERE'S THE TRUTH: You will hardly ever need to use words other than "said" or "asked."

Lie #4: Poetry is about your feelings!


No. Poetry is about expressing yourself, sure -- just like any other writing. But it's not about emotions. It's about saying something. It's a narrative between the poet and the reader, and it should be full of images and ideas, not simply the thoughts you would write in your journal with some line breaks thrown in. Yes, poetry -- just like any other writing -- can be emotional. But your job as the writer isn't to emote onto the page. It's to get your reader to emote. Again, this is a place where that whole "show, don't tell" thing comes in handy.

SO HERE'S THE TRUTH: Poetry isn't about any one thing. And all writing should evoke emotions. Use your excellent writing skills to make the reader feel!

Lie #5: Capitalize the beginning of every line in your poem!


This is actually an antiquated form. If you're reading poetry -- and if you're writing poetry, I hope you are! -- you'll notice that contemporary poets only capitalize where they would in a regular sentence. So lines can start with lowercase letters. You capitalize when you start a new sentence, or for proper nouns -- all the usual suspects. But when you start a new line, and the previous line didn't end with a period, no, you don't need to capitalize. In fact, I'd recommend sticking to the new way of doing things. We both know you're not Shakespeare, after all.

SO HERE'S THE TRUTH: Sure, you can capitalize every line, but it's going to make you look old-fashioned. And not in a trendy way.

Lie #6: Practice writing by writing!


This is actually half true. Yes, you do get better at writing by writing. But you know what's even better? Reading. A well-read writer is going to be a way better writer than a writer who writes every day but never reads.  I promise you, this is a fact.

SO HERE'S THE TRUTH: If you're not reading as well as writing, you're doing it wrong.

Lie #7: A haiku is 5-7-5!


Yikes! They really stepped in it with this one. Sure, some haiku these days are 5-7-5, but usually these are referred to as senryu, since they are Westernized and have less to do with nature and brevity and more to do with cramming something into that syllabic format, often with a humorous twist. There's a lot of information out there about haiku, but I'll leave you with this: Writing haiku is more about brevity and observing nature than it is about an exact syllable count.

SO HERE'S THE TRUTH: Haiku isn't about the syllables. Do some research and figure out what style of haiku works for you!

Lie #8: The classics are the right way to learn writing!


Sure, the classics are great. But if you want to write for contemporary readers (like, you know, alive people), it's a good idea to read contemporary work! Enjoy some Emily Dickinson, but make sure you're also checking out Louise Gluck. Feel free to curl up with J.D. Salinger, but don't forget about Jennifer Egan. And, you know, there's lots to be discovered in your local library or bookstore -- not just the bestsellers. Read widely across genre and author background. Read books you like and books you don't like. Just make sure you're reading, and reading more than the tried and true golden oldies.

SO HERE'S THE TRUTH: If you want to improve your craft, read lots of genres and DEFINITELY check out your contemporaries!

Lie #9: Only write what you know!


If this were true, we wouldn't have, I don't know, any fantasy. Or space operas. Or historical fiction. Sure, it takes a lot of imagination and even more research, but writing outside of your comfort zone can be a good thing. Writing what you know can keep you grounded, and using your life experience to keep your writing honest is an excellent idea. But talking to people with different experiences from you, and reading about other lives and other ideas, and imagining schools for young wizards...well, these are all great tactics for writing richer stories.

SO HERE'S THE TRUTH: Start with what you know, use your imagination and your ability to do research to take your writing to the next level.

Lie #10: You're a genius!


Don't pretend someone in your life hasn't told you this. Someone along the line -- a mother, a teacher, a friend -- has probably read your writing and told you that you're going to be a New York Times best-selling author. And it felt good, I bet. But, you know what? If it's someone like a parent, a teacher, or a friend, they might be looking at your writing through rose-colored glasses. And you need someone who's going to be tough on you if you want to improve and have any chance at being a capital A Author. Are you a genius? Maybe. But don't take this "lesson" at face value.

SO HERE'S THE TRUTH: If you don't work hard and seek critical feedback, and learn to take critical (and negative) feedback, you probably won't succeed no mater what kind of talent you have.


Got questions?  Leave 'em below!  There are exceptions to every rule, and there are plenty of rules that might not make sense, which is why talking to other writers is always helpful. (Another lie: Writers can only be successful when they are holed up in a cabin in the woods somewhere.)  And feel free to share some of the lies you've heard before! In the mean time, enjoy the rest of PE: Literature Basics Week!


Do you like Historical Fiction? Want to learn to write it better, or just get in practice alongside others interested in the topic? Well, we have good news for you.

doughboycafe is running a month long workshop event. Anyone can sign up, there is no experience requirement or limited space. Even if your first language is not English, if you are interested, send a note and we’ll see what we can do.

What is it?: A 5 week long workshop on historical fiction, complete with exercises and resource guides.

When is it?: August 3rd to September 7th.

What's the goal here?: To have each participant end up with one finished, edited short story.

What is the Workshop going to cover?: Two overarching concepts composed of a few smaller concepts. In a nutshell:
Week1: Prep Week, choosing a time period and place, getting an idea for character and story arc, and cursory overview research.
Week2: Focus and source-sorting, how to find sources that are not only good, but relevant to your needs, an amassing of research, and also how to tell if something is a 'history written by a winner'.
Week3: Writing your story, avoiding historical specs infodumps, how to use slang, working with vulgar concepts and avoiding anachronism.
Week4: Redaction, writing, writing, writing, but then diving back into your research pool and hammering out details, fixing errors.
Week5: Polish. Get ready for final critiques, but mostly, just finish the story up. As a bonus, we'll point you towards a few HistFic friendly publications for you to submit to, if that´s your leaning.

If you are interested in participating, please see this journal to sign up and find more detailed information.

Hope to see you there!
More Journal Entries

Stuff Going On!

We now take favorite suggestions! As we cannot respond directly to a declined submission, it is your responsibility to read the guidelines linked above.

We have a book club! The read for July 2014 is THE THIEF LORD by Cornelia Funke. Check out our schedule for upcoming books and events, and be sure to read the Book Club FAQ.

Daily Deviations

Suggest a literature Daily Deviation today!

Our lovely Community Volunteers collectively feature a few pieces of literature every day, many from suggestions by the community. Each CV likes to feature certain things more than others, and you can find their suggestion guidelines below!

We don't do fanfiction; please send those suggestions to SingingFlames.

New to Literature on dA?

Expose-Lit: Your Literature LifelineWelcome to Expose-Lit, your group home on the web for a variety of tips on how to make the most of your DeviantART Literature experience. We hope to provide everyone with a fresh perspective and to assist wonderful deviants just like you in finding your way within our community. And, we all realize that every writer has their own personality, interests, strengths and weaknesses, so we aim to provide unique pathways into the community for everyone. We are here to help!
Welcome Wagon: Getting to Know You
If you are a new writer to DeviantART, or perhaps trying to discover what the general Literature community has to offer, you find out quickly how vast this community is and can be outright confused by everything that this diverse website offers. With the creation of Expose-Lit, it is our hope to merge together the wonderful Writers Welcome Wagon R
Breaking in to Lit!Introduction
Literature has long been considered one of the closest knit communities on deviantART. As a result, some people find it difficult to "break in" to the Lit crowd. There are rumors of elitism, difficulty in getting exposure, and lack-luster appreciation for the incredible work that goes into writing a good piece of prose or a well structured poem.
If you look at a painting you can see amazing detail, great use of color, and the importance of the subject immediately. You know it came from the artist's imagination and that he or she had to spend hours translating that to a canvas. The tangibility of the work is right in front of you. With writing, it is not quite the same. The effort the author puts into the work can only be appreciated if readers put in their own effort to read the work. The gratification is not instant, which is one reason the lit community is so close knit.
Those who do have large followings often also comment and read quite a lot of work h



Affiliation Policy

If you would like your group to affiliate with CRLiterature, please inform us WHY you want to affiliate with us, otherwise we will reject your request. We only affiliate with the following:

:bulletgreen: Official deviantART groups
:bulletgreen: Established groups for the literature community.
:bulletgreen: Groups that encourage critique sharing
:bulletgreen: Groups that share news

We will not accept the following:

:bulletred: New groups with no information what the group is about
:bulletred: Groups for other art forms

Newest Members



Add a Comment:
Jesper6 Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
How does one get a story looked at and featured?
GrimFace242 Featured By Owner 6 days ago   Writer
If you're speaking of DDs, check out our DD Suggestion Guidelines (each CV has their own, and you can find a link on the group homepage) and then pick the best one to send your self suggestion to.  We all take self suggestions.
ThomasCranham Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2014
Thanks for requesting my story :) it's one i'm very proud of and if going to be included in my collection published later this year!
Lady-Yume Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2014   Writer
Thank you for requesting my piece "Heart Sold" :heart:
ProjectStarconia Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Ok, why can't i fricken post my stuff here?
neurotype Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
We only post featured DDs in the gallery. If all you need is an art sharing group, please use Groups search, although we recommend watching this group for official updates.
GrimFace242 Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2014   Writer
We're not a general submission group.  Our galleries are reserved for projecteducate articles and Literature Daily Deviations. 

If you're looking for a general submission group, I would suggest WritersInk.  We also allow submissions to our Favourites, but that is only if you're suggesting someone else's literature. 
Sammur-amat Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2014   General Artist
Oh and here's the link to the results journal:… since I cannot seem to copy the favlink or thumb from my tab, boo :XD:
Sammur-amat Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2014   General Artist
Hello there guys! My contest results are finally out and it would mean a great deal to me if you could help spread the word through a fave and anything else you can assist me with, thank you! :love:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jul 4, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
It is a bit manual (as in you have to copy the text for the original) but we have a process!
Sammur-amat Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2014   General Artist
Gosh, I missed a poem request from you guys cause I was away for so long and now it has expired. My apologies! :saddummy:
GrimFace242 Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2014   Writer
I just resent the request.
Sammur-amat Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2014   General Artist
because pies are always chic and savvy, thank you oodles on end! :tighthug:
GrimFace242 Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2014   Writer
You're welcome.  And make sure you tell neurotype that first part!
Riorlyne Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2014   Writer
Thank you guys for requesting When It Rains! :D
ARIrish Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2014   Writer
Guys, a poem popped up in my in-tray from CRLiterature, and I accidentally deleted it when I tried to click on it, and now I can't find it. The first line was something about 'marr[ying] every bedside witch...'

Help a fellow out, would ya?
neurotype Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
If what's coming through the gallery is a DD, it'll be collected in this obsessively sorted gallery folder:…

You could also browse the DDs page if you know it's recent, but that's not a surety. :B
ARIrish Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2014   Writer
I did check [today's] DDs, but I didn't know whether or not it even was one. Thanks for the link; I don't think I even realised subfolders were possible on dA.
neurotype Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Only in galleries and with a subscription, as far as I know.
Add a Comment: