Is In Cold Blood a creative work? Is it more than journalism? Why or why not?  

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Truman Capote claimed that he had created a new literary genre with In Cold Blood. He called it a nonfiction novel. To make his book more dramatic, he employed imaginative description and imaginary dialogue. He also used his creative imagination to describe the emotions of many of the characters involved, including members of the Clutter family, their friends and neighbors, the police, and the two killers. All these descriptive elements, which are common to traditional novels, were based on Capote's observations and interviews, as well as on whatever news reports he had read, but they were interpreted and colored by his creative imagination. His novel might be compared with Theodore Dreiser's much earlier novel, An American Tragedy, which was also based on an actual murder. Dreiser, however, took much greater liberties with the actual characters and events. Capote is one of the leading exponents of the so-called New Journalism, which is a kind of reportage in which the author inserts his own opinions, impressions, interpretations, personality into his accounts of actual events. New Journalism is like Impressionism compared to Realism in painting. New Journalism is more subjective than traditional journalism, which aims at being factual, truthful, unbiased.