Author Archives: Lizzie Pellegrino

No apple colored oranges

Fiction and Creative Nonfiction are similar in a lot of ways. They both use literary devices to characterize characters, show a setting, and prompt the reader to think more deeply about the text. They both use metaphor at times. They both have a strong voices that propel the piece forward through a narrator. They are both prose. But the difference get more blurred the further you delve into the genre. The line between fiction and nonfiction isn’t clear, but it exists. Continue reading

What Counts as Truth?

In his notes, John D’Agata reveals he conflates time and uses composite characters throughout About a Mountain. How does this deviation from the truth affect the way you view D’Agata’s story (is it a deviation)? Does revealing this information make it “okay” for the text to still be considered CNF? How would you react if D’Agata didn’t attach the Notes section, and you later found out he altered these details?

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50% Banana

The human genome is about 50% identical the genome of a banana. I’ve been told this fact since before I knew what a genome actually was, and I always thought “How could that be? Humans are not like bananas at all.” And we aren’t really. Bananas don’t have societies or governments or reality television. We don’t grow in bunches on a tree.   So what makes us similar to bananas? Continue reading

Format Mapping


I hate titles. I mean, they’re useful, but I still hate them. I hate the title “Sherman’s March.” I think that it’s misleading, because the march is not the center point of the movie. It feels unoriginal, because there are more interesting things that McElwee could have named his documentary that also relate closer to the fact that McElwee is the main character not Sherman. He could have called it “Tracing Sherman’s March” or “The Failed March” or even “Total War.” That said, McElwee didn’t name is documentary any of these things, so why did he name it the way he did? Continue reading

Control the Reader

As a fan of Welcome to Night Vale, a bi-monthly fictional radio show that focuses on the town of Night Vale through the eyes (and voice) of Cecil Palmer, I’m hardly new to listening to podcasts. There’s something about the way podcasts are made that demand your attention. Unlike a book, you can’t set a podcast down and think, you have to absorb everything the minute it’s said. Sometimes this is fantastic, because the action in the podcast is intense. If this same intensity were a book, you’d read too quickly and skip entire sentences. But in a podcast, everything is already paced for you. There’s no way for a reader to interject their own cadence. Most of the time I find no problem with this aspect of podcasts, and I didn’t have any trouble while listening with Serial. In retrospect, I’m surprised I didn’t. Continue reading

Selling out and truth

The most important aspect of creative nonfiction is truth, which is closely followed by honesty. Without these two requirements, nonfiction would cease being nonfiction and become fiction instead. The difficult part of writing with truth and honesty is that life is very messy. There’s no way to approach something in a clear cut manner, and if the event does seem clear and simple, the author isn’t digging into it enough. As Joan Didion said in the opening of Slouching Towards Bethlehem, “writers are always selling somebody out.” The use of this quote in the introduction helps frame the reader in the knowledge that the writing will not always be clear or what they might expect. It serves as a reminder that creative nonfiction focuses on real people and real stories. Continue reading