Nonfiction writing allows us to ask difficult questions about ourselves while encouraging us to investigate the larger world with curiosity and attention. Since the sixteenth century when Michel de Montaigne first blended philosophical and personal writing in the form he termed “essais” or “tests,” nonfiction writers have adopted the essay as a vital form, one that does not simply collect ideas or record experiences but that also invites readers to observe the mind at work.
Though contemporary nonfiction writing includes a wide variety of subjects and styles—from memoirs, investigative feature stories, and travel narratives (to name only a few)—its heart almost always lies in a search for truth. Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates describes writing as “a very internal process that’s all about trying to learn something and then show it to people.” For a student of nonfiction—like fiction and poetry—it also presents a wide variety of possibilities for exploring our experience or perceptions of the world.
Nonfiction writing is perfect for all students who want to improve their skills as literary artists or educated professionals required to express themselves clearly. Students of nonfiction learn to find and evaluate information as well as how to shape information into compelling pieces. We practice various modes from traditional to experimental, while cultivating skills essential to creative, academic, and professional success.