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4160+ Creative Nonfiction Short Stories to read
Submitted by writers on Reedsy Prompts to our weekly writing contest . The creative nonfiction stories on this page deliver exactly what it says on the tin: true stories told in weird and wonderful ways.
🏆 Winning stories
“ dear coldplay, i love you. wait. scratch that. ” by éan bird.
This letter isn’t to you, the band. This letter is for the band’s front man.My apologies. Let’s start over.Dear Chris Martin,I love you. But we need to break up.You don’t know me, Chris. We’ve never met. You grazed my hands at a concert once, but I’m told that doesn’t count. But you and I have history, my dear; decades of triumph, grief, adoration, frustration knotted and woven together in indecipherable patterns. I’ve discovered, in recent contemplations about our relations, it...
“ Careful—You’ll Slip, Fall, and Die on Those Slippery Slopes ” by Liv Chocolate
cw: references to sexual assault, kidnapping, and murderThe first time I crossed a street by myself—as in, without one or both of my parents present—I was seventeen. My parents warned me that the outside world was dangerous, and that, if something were to happen to me, I wouldn't know what to do. According to my parents, kidnappers, murderers, and kidnapper-murderers lurked on every corner of our small, suburban town where, statistically, my chances of becoming the victim of a violent crim...
“ Letting go ” by Rebecca Miles
I dedicate this story to my partner and to everyone who has carried or is carrying the burden of grief.Sitting by the bed, holding my hand, you think my mind is fighting against the decision of my body to quit life’s game. My eyes are closed, but I sense your will through the fingers laced tightly around my own. Tenderness is a force and you stake my claim to life through the insistent pressure of your hand. How it has grown over these long years from its immaculate small perfection to this manifestati...
⭐️ Recommended stories
“ dad errands ” by audrey knox.
These days as an adult, I cannot even convince myself to get out of bed unless I know there is coffee waiting for me. When I go on vacations, I set my alarm by the time the nearest coffee shop to me opens, and I still end up sleeping much later than that because it’s still so far away and how am I supposed to shower, get dressed, dry my hair, and do my makeup without caffeine? I can’t get out of bed without it. ...
“ Damn the Lizard Patriarchy ” by Hazel Ide
CW: Off-page mentions of suicide and sexual assault.When I was young, I fell in love with a girl. Her heavy black Doc Marten boots, climbing out of her boyfriend's shitty old sedan, caught my eye as I stumbled off the school bus, my friend slamming into me from behind. I watched her smile and laugh, dumbstruck, before I was shouldered out of the way by other students, anxious to flee the tall yellow monstrosity behind me, but I couldn't stop staring. She wore a crushed velvet blue mini dress, a thick black ch...
“ 1861 - A Reunion in Calcutta ” by Suma Jayachandar
CW: Racism, Religious fervor Is that the perfume gifted by your captors who snatched you away from your kingdom that’s wafting in the air, my darling boy? It stinks and smells worse than your uncle’s blood splattered on your face even as you watched in horror: a 7-year-old Maharaja robbed of his wazir and his regent mother robbed of her brother. It’s been 13 years since we breathed the sam...
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“ friday 13 january 1939-black friday ” by michelle oliver.
“On [Friday 13 January 1939] it appeared that the whole State [Victoria, Australia] was alight. At midday, in many places, it was dark as night. Men carrying hurricane lamps, worked to make safe their families and belongings. Travellers on the highways were trapped by fires or blazing fallen trees, and perished. Throughout the land there was daytime darkness… Steel girders and machinery were twisted by heat as if they had been of fine wire. Sleepers of heavy durable timber, set in the soil, their upper surfaces flush with th...
“ Would You Still Love Me? ” by Peter Fulton
Is it wrong to imagine life with a different family? I know, it sounds horrible, but it's not an easy thought to let go of. Religious extremism, sometimes to the point of absurdity, can have a brutally negative impact on a child's development, and, speaking for myself, I wouldn't have minded spending my early years in a family that was a little less uptight about Almighty Jesus. ...
“ Family Dynamics ” by Pam Cole
Family Dynamics“Your brother asked us up for Christmas” Mum said on the phone with not too much enthusiasm.“How lovely,” I cringed as I answered her, thinking of past family gatherings that didn’t end well.“What did you tell him?”“Thanks ““No commitment yet? ““What are you doing?” She asked. I knew I was put on the spot and sighed to myself“I guess we will go wherever you go” wishing the opposite. My parents ...
“ Confidence Should Be Her Name ” by Zakiya Lockett
No, I am not going to fall for it this time, she thought. She wondered why she always fell for the excuses of her mom. For years she allowed her mom to run her life, make excuses for why she couldn’t fulfill the task she said SHE would do. “Mom, listen I can’t cover you this time.” “Baby, I understand but I just need something to get me home. Please baby, I’ll pay y...
“ Watercolors ” by AnneMarie Miles
He tells me to sit still.It is not hard to do. I am lost in thought, lost in my reasons for being here.I keep thinking of that woman I never knew. The person in the painting on the wall in the hallway of the house I grew up in. I keeping thinking about what it would have been like to know her, what it would have been like to call her my grandmother.Or would you have preferred, abuela? Did you speak English? Even that, I do not know. Even that, my father will not say.
“ Yellows and Blues ” by Smriti Sudhakar
cw: implied previous SA It’s just a stupid fucking therapy assignment. One that I’ve specifically gotten a myriad of times. One that I’ve half-assed or full-on ignored. I’m well aware that I need therapy, and I do my best to go into every session with an open mind and do every assignment with sincerity. But this one goddamn prompt never fails to come up w...
“ Art Imitates Life ” by Olivia Hetu
The assignment given to Astrid by her Introduction to Art professor was simple, create a self-portrait by use of any medium. The assignment was worth twenty percent of her final grade. Although Astrid had been provided one week to complete the assignment, she was eager to get started and began immediately. While researching different mediums Astrid found that she was most drawn to the idea of using a pencil to b...
“ Of All the Places ” by Kimberly Walker
Of All the Places I have been very aware that I was adopted since I was ten. The meanest boy on the school bus loved to torture me just because I was the bus driver's daughter. The following day, after being assigned to the front seat across from mine, Andrew boarded with a huge grudge and the boasting of his nastier mother. As the door clos...
“ Mirrorbound Unveiling ” by Diana Silandrie
Chapter 1: Reflection's Revelation Eldoria's morning sunlight spilled into Emma's room as she stood before her bedroom mirror, a paintbrush in hand. Intent on capturing the vibrant hues of the sunrise on her canvas, she glanced at her reflection for inspiration. Yet, what met her gaze wasn't merely a mirrored image. The reflection, once a static likeness of Emma, now had a life of its ow...
“ Walking in my sleep ” by Mayna Gabby Fitzpatrick
I woke up dazed and confused about where I was. "Alex!" my mom screamed, sure what she thought was a sweet call. I struggled to my feet, the floor swaying beneath me. I pulled an over-sized t-shirt over my head and opened my door. The screech of protest the door gave made me cringe, and I quickly moved toward the living room, only a couple feet down the hall and past the bathroom. I paused just before I went in, trying ...
“ eve. ” by Lara Deppe
“Tell us again, Grandpa!” Hannah cheered as she wrapped her blanket tighter around her shoulders and snuggled up against Nick’s feet. Nick had fourteen-month-old Charlie in his arms and the aged rocking chair creaked under his weight as he swayed back and forth lulling the toddler to sleep. Charlie’s eyes were drooping but he was fighting sleep with all of his might. “Please, Grandpa.” A small voice whispered. Peter’s cheeks blushed as he sat down next to his sister in front of the rocking chair. “Tell us about...
“ Ruminations in the Dark ” by Laura Johnston
I can’t sleep. I roll over in my bed, trying to find a comfortable position. It’s freezing in here. My legs become restless, so I climb out of bed as fast as my arthritic joints will let me, and limp into the hallway to turn up the heat. I flick the light switch, and nothing happens. The power is out, go figure. No wonder it’s so cold in here. I find my way into the dark living room and sit in my recliner, hastily coveri...
“ The Point of no Return ” by John K Adams
Allen boarded the plane, stowed his carry-on and found his seat. The interminable layover, now ended, allowed him to relax. Dusk settled over the airport. He hated taking the red-eye, but this was his last chance to go where he’d never wanted to go. The P.A. squawked. “Ladies and gentlemen, there will be a brief delay before take-off. Please exit the plane. You can leave your carry-on luggage but take anything...
“ He Speaks For Me ” by Danni D
My red paints mimic blood on the wooden floor. It finds its way near the fallen paint brushes that lay still next to the empty easel, the canvas now feet away from it.Looking at the self portrait makes me ashamed in an empty room and I no longer feel worthy of my spilled and wasted turquoise, copper red, or midnight blue.A quiet room filled with chaos is all I’m left with and perhaps it’s the fumes of the paints getting to me but I can’t fall down and cry so instead I drop down to my knees with a thud and burst out into laug...
The Best Creative Nonfiction Short Stories
Made for those bookworms who love the compelling freedom of fiction but are looking for a little bit of the real world in their reading, creative nonfiction is the radiant lovechild of elegant poetry and rigorous reportage. Writers of this genre aim to present the truth — factually accurate prose about real life and real people — in a brilliant and creative way. Its faithful readers find themselves as enthralled by fact as they are by fantasy.
As a literary form, nonfiction can be a little hard to pin down. At its crux, creative nonfiction applies literary techniques drawn from poetry and fiction to content that would be at home in a textbook — making for an entertaining read that you might just learn something from! Among creative nonfiction short stories, you could find an insightful memoir, a dramatic monologue, hot, witty journalism, or a tight, personal essay.
Looking for new creative nonfiction stories?
Look no further! Every week, hundreds of writers submit stories to Reedsy’s short story contest. On this page, you’ll find all of those that are categorized as creative nonfiction stories. This means that the featured writers were triggered by one of our prompts to look to their own experiences and reveal a true-life story — but, crucially, they decided to tell it in a brilliant and creative way.
If you want to find the cream of the crop — perhaps the next Joan Didion or Jia Tolentino — then look to the top of the page: that’s where we’ve gathered all the winning and shortlisted entries. And don’t forget, if you’ve got a story to tell (fact or fiction), you too can enter our weekly contest and be in with a chance of nabbing the $250 prize plus a shot at publication in Prompted , our new literary magazine . Now wouldn’t that be a story?
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"Into The Storm"
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A New Kind of Literary Pulse
Where Magic Goes to Die
My hands used to create magic. I think with the increasing demands of adulthood, they've had their spark pulled right out of them. My little sister's hands still glisten with it, but I fear he ... [+]
The Russian Song
I’m sitting on the couch, staring at the roof. One of my legs is on the table that is filled with cups and garbage. The plant next to my foot is dried. A slight light enters the room from the gap ... [+]
My Bravest Year
SNAP! At first, it did not even register. The world suddenly tilts, like looking through a camera while it drops, your vision spinning with it. Then, you are blindly wondering why you are on the ... [+]
To All the Toys I've Loved Before
Blue, the Dog: You really broke my heart, but I know it wasn’t your fault. I cried when you came back. It just seemed so innocent, and the neighbor girl was my best friend. I trusted her. I ... [+]
The Street in West Cambridge
Kathryn Alexa Jackson
During my transition from being a Harvard lab technician to a Harvard graduate student in the summer of 2015, I went home to New York for three weeks of vacation. My last day there was sunny and not ... [+]
Love Letter to my Immigrant Family
In 2010, the street artist Stephen Powers completed a series of murals as a love letter to the city of Philadelphia, his home. I had never heard of him before, but I’d seen these murals on my trips ... [+]
The Alarm Clock
“93, 94, 95...” I stared blankly at the ceiling, counting sheep in my head. “98, 99, 100...” My stomach did another gurgle, telling me that we wouldn’t have another normal lunchtime. I ... [+]
MY MOTHERS TONGUE: My mother’s tongue is precious to her. It clicks and snaps as her lips form her words. Sounds that I can only hear, but I can never make myself. My lips don’t make the ... [+]
Remember the Fireflies
One of my earliest memories is running around my great-grandmother’s backyard catching fireflies. Grandma Marie lived in Virginia, and, at least once a year, we would make the nine-hour journey to ... [+]
Double Snail Shells
This story isn’t a cute story or a quaint story, but it is a true story that I can’t quite make sense of. There was traveling and there was cancer, and then there were snail shells that have to ... [+]
Rites are supposed to be heavy, large things. Difficult to carry or pass through. Empty stomach and a bulging suitcase as you make your way out of your mother's arms in a way that feels final. Empty ... [+]
I was sitting in a public square in Athens, when I saw something that Intrigued me. A young man, not five meters away from me, who also sat on a smooth bench of stone, was happily chewing on a gyro ... [+]
Count Your Blessings
“Ohmygosh I haven’t even started that monumental thousand point project due tomorrow.” My friend sighed rubbing his eyes, “how far are you Kenley?” “Oh, umm...” I hesitate. Sweat ... [+]
Tornadoes and Ice Cream
“Dad, I had another tornado dream last night.” My father glanced over at me from the driver’s seat, his hands at 10 and 2, the perfect model of good driving. He turned his glance back to the ... [+]
Musings from the Front Porch
A light fog seems to grip the air. Makes all the surfaces feel damp. The air itself not unsavory but with a definite hint of weight to it not at all like you feel in more arid climes. The effect is ... [+]
For over four years I worked at a newspaper in Tooele County, a rural desert county in Utah. I had a coworker once say the county is a collection of almosts—it could be almost a fantastic hiking ... [+]
I finish mowing the lawn and drive to your house. I make habits like this out of a summer that feels overgrown and unkempt otherwise. Each week: edge in the morning, mow in the afternoon, drive to ... [+]
Milquetoast and the Abstract Space Between Lust and Love
“You’re different—you’re not milquetoast,” the tall boy I was stumbling along Richmond Road with told me on the walk back to my room. He couldn’t see, but had I scrunched up my face ... [+]