course hack

Creative Nonfiction

Susan Orlean

5 mins

3 key insights

Visual, audio & text

In this Skillshare course, New Yorker Magazine staff writer and New York Times best-selling author Susan Orlean draws upon her experience to give clear and practical advice on creative nonfiction writing.


Creative Nonfiction

Creative Nonfiction

by Susan Orlean


Creative nonfiction is a loose term for nonfiction that employs the techniques of fiction writing. It doesn't usually adhere to a journalistic style and tends to be observation-based rather than narrative-driven. There is a long history of this kind of writing, especially in the U.S., where prolific writers such as A.J. Liebling, Joseph Mitchell, and Joan Didion developed the genre.

The key concern of creative nonfiction, where the real skill and art comes in, is the way in which a writer balances the basic facts with the constellations of themes and sub-elements that should all come together to form a rich and substantial piece of writing.

Susan Orlean has been a staff writer at the New Yorker for over 20 years and has authored eight creative nonfiction books. Her great experience makes her an ideal guide to aspiring writers.

Favorite quote

Merely delivering facts in the case of nonfiction is not going to make you into a great writer. It's necessary, it's not sufficient. What makes it go to the next level is the art of forming the story, of the narrative, of the voice.

- Susan Orlean

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