A person is stood, looking at their notebook in deep though as they write a piece of creative non-fiction

What is Creative Non-Fiction? New Genre Announced for CFWA 2023

03 January 2023

For the tenth Creative Future Writers’ Award, we’re very excited to add a new genre—creative non-fiction.

So what is creative non-fiction?

Also known as narrative non-fiction, it generally means describing or telling a true story, events or experiences—and doing so creatively in a narrative way, or through literary or even poetic description. It usually recounts and reflects on a personal narrative, event or experience. Good creative non-fiction is factual, unique and draws us in.

Creative non-fiction includes:

  • Memoir
  • Nature writing
  • Travel writing
  • Writing about place
  • Food writing
  • Narrative/immersion journalism
  • Lyric essays

…but it doesn’t include:

  • Academic or research essays
  • Historical or other articles
  • Criticism or reviews
  • Political/philosophical/other essays
  • Scripts or screenplays–prose narratives only
  • Recipes, technical instructions and the like

As with all entries to the Writers’ Award, we’re interested in quality writing first and foremost—emotional depth, beautiful language and compelling narratives. We’re also looking for pieces that stand on their own, even if they’re excerpts from a longer work.

Can you write about the rules of football? No, but it could be a particular match you attended, and telling us a unique and vibrant story about it. The history of Alcoholics Anonymous? No. Your personal experience with AA as distinct from anyone else’s, perhaps weaving in some aspects of its history? Definitely. Two pages on eating a burger? Sure, if you delve into the hidden history of ketchup, bring in childhood memories or your romantic entanglement with the fry cook.

At the same time, we’re aware some people are writing about difficult subjects and experiences, so we accept you may want to change names as well as use a pen name of your own. (You don’t need to tell us these alterations upon submission.) If you have concerns or want to alter facts significantly, it’s best if you submit your piece as fiction even if it contains strong autobiographical elements.

Also, we do not have fact-checkers or the capacity to get permission for quotations or sources, so it’s preferable if you draw on your direct experience. Don’t include a bibliography or reference footnotes—your work should be a creative narrative. We also don’t have the ability to reproduce photos or illustrations in our anthology, so please don’t include these.

What’s key in all successful creative non-fiction is emotion and reflection—how the writer was affected by the subject or event being written about, or otherwise something larger than the topic directly: themes, ideas, insights, connections.

Show us places and faces; tell us what they said. We’re open to anything that’s true, moves the reader, and opens our eyes to something we’ve never seen before or new ways to look at it.

Our competition opens on Tuesday 17 January 2023 – we look forward to reading your work!

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