Types of Creative Writing

Short Fiction and Creative Nonfiction: The Tension Between

Course Description:

How do land, culture, the body, and sexuality influence identity?

In this course we will consider the difference between creative nonfiction and fiction, asking how culture, language, our surroundings, our bodies, and our perceptions influence our writing. We will navigate the ethical and writerly boundaries between the genres of short fiction and creative nonfiction, considering how personal, social, economic, and cultural influences impact the narratives we write. As a class, we will write and read creative nonfiction and fiction that focuses on Hawaiʻi as well as other works/narratives that engage in conversation with each other.

Additionally, this class will focus on the craft—characterization, setting, dialogue, description and detail, and theme, for instance—of the short story and creative nonfiction, which we will navigate through writing, discussions, and workshops.

We will ask and answer the following questions:

  • What makes a short story?
  • What is the difference between fiction and creative nonfiction?
  • What is plot, conflict, climax?
  • How do writers use narration?
  • How do writers use summary and scene?
  • How do we write characters and dialogue?

Required Text

  • On Writing Short Stories Second Edition Ed. By Tom Bailey
  • The Truth of the Matter by Dinty Moore

Texts used extensively (PDFs):

Bamboo Ridge

Ōiwi Journal

McDougall, Brandy Nalani Finding Meaning: Kaona and Contemporary Hawaiian Literature, ebook through UH Mānoa library system

Examples of PDFs on Laulima

hoʻomanawanui, kuʻualoha “What is Hawaiian Literature?”

Morales, Rodney  “Daybreak at Haleakala”

Kanae, Lisa“The Weight of Water and Color: Islands Linked by Ocean”

Carlisle, Kelly Grey “Physical Evidence”

Landgraf, Kapena “ ʻAi Pohaku”

Osario, Jamaica “No Seed Left Unturned”

Peralto, Leon No‘eau. “Mauna a Wākea: Hānau ka Mauna, the Piko of Our Ea”

Glancy, Diane “Sun Dance”

Shihab Nye, Naomi “This Is Not Who We Are”

Baldwin, James “Sonny’s Blues”

Kincaid, Jamaica “Girl” PDF on Laulima

Additional supplementary reading will be posted as PDFs to Laulima.


Grade Determination 

  • 15%     Participation
  • 10%     In-class writing prompt
  • 15%     Weekly draft pages
  • 10%     Workshops
  • 10%     Writer’s Process Reflection
  • 10%     Reading/presentation of work
  • 10%     Book Review
  • 20%     Portfolio

Please contact Rain Wright at rwright7@hawaii.edu for further information.

–Readings are subject to change