Science, medicine, CNF

I read this on the Narrative Nonfiction blog today.  The link goes to the To Think, To Write, To Publish program, which is a two-day conference intended to “…discuss the value and advantages of communicating science and innovation policy (SIP) to general audiences with creative nonfiction writing that uses narrative, scene and storytelling to engage and inform readers.”  I see an increasing focus on using creative nonfiction to tell medical and scientific “stories.”  I’m super interested in that, I guess especially after working in a physical rehab hospital for so long.  I saw compelling stories every day, all day long.

Whatever the subject matter is, I am excited by the genre, but I’m worried about how well I get the concept of using “elements of fiction” as it’s usually described by authors and teachers when defining creative nonfiction.  I’m worried I’m going to start at Goucher lacking a basic understanding of CNF, even though when I applied to the school I thought I got it.  Maybe I’m too simplistic about it, but in my mind there are four basic types of prose:

1) News reporting, which by definition is simple communication of facts

2) Feature stories, which are based on factual reporting and research and tell a deeper and more nuanced version of stuff that happened

3) Fiction, which derives from imagination and is presumed not to represent factual information

4) Essays, which share the author’s opinions, either standing alone or in reference to factual information or events

Maybe I’m over-thinking it.  To me, creative nonfiction is feature stories told really well.  Like Thomas French’s The Exorcist in Love; he obviously did tons of reporting, which allowed him to present a super detailed and nuanced story.  Same with Tom Hallman Jr’s The Boy Behind the Mask.  Feature stories with tons and tons of reporting.  I hope my assumption is correct that what I will learn at Goucher is how to arrange the reporting so it tells the story in the best, cleanest, most compelling way possible.

The residency is two months away.  I’d better be sure I have it straight.

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