Creative nonfiction, also called narrative nonfiction, literary nonfiction, or new journalism, is often thought of as a new type of writing, but it’s been around for centuries. Basically it means presenting facts using literary techniques such as plot, dialogue, setting, narration, and introspection so the subject comes alive for the reader. Facts are researched and are presented in a narrative style that brings the reader into the events using the same techniques we’d use for fiction writing. It’s more informal and personal than traditional nonfiction.
Many of the articles in magazines use this style of writing to entice readers into learning about subjects that might be boring if presented as straight facts. It’s also used for interviews, memoirs, biographies, autobiographies, travel and nature articles, and essays. Mastering this technique isn’t easy, but is worth the effort.
There are more in-depth explanations of this topic at:
Edit: I’ve written a related post on Creative Writing, dated April 13, 2009
Edit March 24, 2010: My post today gives an example of the difference between nonfiction and creative nonfiction.