Creative Nonfiction – Evan Rosser

Evan Rosser in Forum
According to Evan Rosser, creative nonfiction is telling the truth but ‘more’. More, for example, can be found in the metaphors you choose. This writing form, says Rosser, is to decorate the facts so someone wants to read them. During his talk on March 3rd, in the forum, Rosser said, “Keep it true but write in a way that’s more interesting.”

When asked about subject material, Rosser said he likes writing about people doing something out of the ordinary, who may be considered ‘strange’, who aren’t popular, to find a niche; it’s all about changing people’s perceptions. Rosser went on to discuss the method of attracting attention and readership: write about reactions, people’s reactions, write about details that make someone feel that they are there. Check out his article on maximum security inmates at a US prison.


Rob Stewart, a Canadian filmmaker and activist, made the movie Sharkwater. When it came to writing the book, Evan Rosser was a candidate to ghostwrite it. These two men sat down over lunch to see what Stewart wanted to say and what he wanted the book to be. This Canadian writer went away, wrote a 12-page proposal, then found out he got the job. Rosser said that Stewart was easy to write for; he has a distinct way of speaking and great stories. They met multiple times and Rosser compiled hours and hours of interview material.  However, he needed to develop the book around all of that material. So that’s exactly what Rosser did.


Why was Evan Rosser at CDNIS and what was he doing here??

Evan Rosser at CDNIS

Rosser’s visit was organised by English Teacher, Brendan Benson. The two had met in Canada last summer, and after a finding out more about his work – a National Magazine award winner and ghostwriter for Sharkwater – Mr. Benson felt that Rosser would be an ideal candidate for the Artist in Residence programme (as supported by the generous Annual Fund). Mr Benson wanted to give authenticity to the nonfiction unit as well as “offer students perspective on the life and processes of a professional writer to validate their experience – whether it be torturous or joyful – profiling a subject of their choice.”

According to Mr. Benson, Rosser was at CDNIS for four very busy days. He met with every Grade 10 student 1:1 at least once.  He ran writer’s workshops after school where he addressed questions about his process and experience with writing non-fiction. He also addressed a group of keen writers in the Forum in an interview hosted by one of the English teachers.

Some feedback from the Grade 10s about Rosser’s visit: 

-‘he helped with giving us tips on starting points in story telling’
-‘he stressed the importance of not thinking too hard and writing what comes naturally’
-‘he helped me focus my work by recommending that I consider the way a specific detail can inspire a story rather than starting with a broad take on my subject’

What a success!

Did you meet with Evan Rosser? How has he impacted you and your writing? Comment below and let me know!

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