Lecture: Narrative Nonfiction: Barratir: Listen to part of a lecture in an art class. We're gonna talk about a type of creative nonfiction, narrative nonfiction. Now maybe you're thinking of nonfiction in a creative writing class, especially since you probably remember from your high school classes the distinction between fiction, like novels and short stories, and nonfiction which is based on real-life facts and information like essays, journalism, nonfiction. Okay. So with narrative nonfiction the idea is that you're telling your story. That's what narrative means. At the same time you're providing information about an actual subject, so you're using fact, but you're approaching it as if it's, well, there is an emotional content to it. So you're telling a tale about a factual situation, but you're using the devices of narrative fiction, like character, plot, setting to convey those facts, and that's where the creative part comes in. Your next major assignment that you have in this class is to write a piece of narrative nonfiction and before you do that I want to talk about your reading assignment for this week which is a great illustration of narrative nonfiction. It's a book called The Orchid Thief by a journalist named Susan Orlean. The Orchid Thief was also made into a movie and what makes Susan Orlean's book so well suited to the medium of film is that it was so vividly told. Orlean really brings the characters to life, re-creates the setting, makes you feel like you're right there in the middle of the action and I wanna direct you to one of the themes I thought was quite vivid in the book that also became a vivid part of the movie in which you see her experience as a journalist. Orlean becomes a character in her own narrative. OK. Now there's this very rare type of Orchid called the ghost Orchid that grows in the Florida Swampland and the character John Laroche collects. Orlean, the journalist, persuades Laroche to take her into the swamps to find the Orchid. Now that's a goal that may not be fulfilled because they can't be sure they will find one. So now you have suspense what's going to happen and there is a major hurdle. The swamps are dark and dangerous but Laroche has such passion for these orchids that he'll brave these alligators and snakes and insects to go into the swamp. Now Orlean's from New York City and swamps aren't part of her experience and they could even get lost. In fact the best scene in the book is where they do get lost and she starts challenging his so-called savvy about these swamps. It seems so, so irritative, so now you got conflict between these characters and you get action and suspense as they wade through the swamps, maybe getting closer to that Orchid or maybe just getting more lost, and you get setting as you feel among this murky water under this heavy hanging trees with all this dense humidity. The description so real all five senses are at work. Finally at the end of that scene one looks as if it's a lost day and they don't even know where they are, they find the ghost Orchid. It's a beautiful white flower that just makes the entire thing worth it and she finally understands what his passion is all about. Now the reader gets quite caught up with that to see first what's going to happen when they get lost and secondly what she as the journalist is feeling when she comes upon the flower after everything she's gone through to get there. She gets it, the passion and it actually creates a hollow feeling in her but she's never in her life had that kind of passion. So instead of just reading about what Orlean experiences as an observer, we get to see hence through her eyes, feel what she feels about it. So as writers of narrative nonfiction I want you to be looking for subjects that you can follow and settings you can describe and create what will be vivid and will connect with readers in such a way that they'll want to stay with you throughout the scene and learn about that character and feel whatever emotion you bring into the scene.