Image by Angelina Litvin

CREATIVE
NON-FICTION AND SEXUAL TRAUMA

Creative non-fiction is a genre of writing that applies literary techniques to factual stories. It is the art of telling a true story creatively. Writers use elements of fictional storytelling to write about actual events, such as timeline, plot, conflict, sensory details, and character development. 


Creative writing can help survivors of sexual trauma work through the effects of the traumas they have suffered. Writing allows survivors to express emotions within a safe space, the page itself and doesn’t require survivors to share their feelings until they are ready. Initially, expressing emotion about traumas can be difficult, but with practice, survivors can learn to regulate their emotions and experience release and relief. Writing helps survivors to organize their thoughts around their trauma. Through writing, survivors can understand themselves more deeply and compassionately. The act of creating a story restores power to the survivor and helps them break free from the past. Once survivors have reclaimed their voice and written their story, they may feel ready to share their story with someone they love and trust. 

Source: Writing About Emotions May Ease Stress and Trauma by Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School

 

WORKSHOP EXERCISES

These exercises are presented in a particular order: Creating Intention, Timeline, Sensory Details, Character Development, Point of View, and Reflection, but you are not required to follow the exercises in that order. I would encourage you to begin with "Creating Intention" and end with "Reflection", but if one of the storytelling elements grabs your attention, you can start there. Explore the exercises and follow your intuition.

CREATING INTENTION

Reflect on what you want from this workshop and set an intention.

Image by Nathan Lindahl

TIMELINE

Storytelling requires the writer to organize events along a timeline: what comes first, what follows, how does this event relate in time to that event; but what if the writer is also trying to anchor themselves in time and orient themselves in relation to the events of their story.

Image by Ugne Vasyliute

SENSORY DETAILS

It is through sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste that the reader gets an enhanced experience of the story. Readers are allowed to enter into the world of the writer, to experience what it is like to live there.

Image by Jude Infantini

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

Great stories have relatable characters, and relatable characters are complex. They have a combination of strengths and weaknesses; their personalities contradict. The reader experiences their complexity through physical descriptions, actions, and inner thoughts. Strong characters change and grow. Readers witness the journey and transformation of the character as they overcome obstacles and work toward solutions, becoming something new through the process.

Image by Zdeněk Macháček

POINT OF VIEW

The narrative voice is the point of view, the way in which the reader will hear and experience the story. The first person point of view invites the reader to see the story through the author’s perspective. The narrative voice is a reflection of the writer’s personality, a reflection of who they are. The writer displays their voice in the way they tell their story, the words they use, the aspects they highlight, the feelings they describe. Through the writer’s voice, readers can experience an event in a unique way.

Image by Noah Silliman

REFLECTION

Take some time to reflect on your experience and the workshop.

Image by Dale Nibbe
 

SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK

Please help us improve the workshop by telling me about your experience: what did you enjoy, what can I do to improve, what suggestions do you have. Thank you for participating and sharing your thoughts with me!

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