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Capote’s Craft in “In Cold Blood” Writing Essay

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Updated: Jun 10th, 2022


Creative writing is vital in the field of literature. This form of writing entails using convincing and appealing imaginative skills. Creative writing involves giving fabrications in the quest to unearth some underlying truths about the world. On the other side, nonfictional writing is based on the truth, and it seeks to reveal some given realities. Joyce Oates, who is a literary icon in the United States, outlines essential subjects that are crucial to designing narratives and the techniques that writers ought to embrace while writing prose, plays, and poetry among other genres. This essay analyzes the writing techniques used in Truman Capote’s masterpiece, In Cold Blood, and it demonstrates how to implement the nonfiction tips acquired from the novel.


In Cold Blood highlights a real story concerning the murder of the Clutter family that resides in Holcomb. The family is made up of Herbert Clutter, his wife, Bonnie, and their teen children, Kenyon and Nancy. Clutter inspects the farm one morning while Perry Smith and Dick Hickok meet at the same time to plan on how to undertake robbery at the protagonist’s home. The two killers drive to the Clutter’s home later in the night and kill the four family members in a theft attack. Perry and Dick flee to Mexico to avoid arrest by the police. They use hot checks passed by Dick while crossing the border to Mexico. Susan Kidwell discovers the bodies the next morning while detector Dewey and other three investigators launch a probe into the murder.

In Mexico, Perry and Dick spend most of their time enticing German tourists, but eventually, they run out of money. The investigation on the assassination case takes a new twist after Floyd Wells, who is a former Dick’s cellmate and an employee at the Clutter’s farm, confesses the murder to the authorities. Dick and Perry steal a vehicle and return to Kansas City where they settle in Miami. The police eventually arrest the two in Las Vegas before being convicted of murder. Dick and Perry suffer the agony of death row during their five years appeal process. Later, they are executed by hanging. Dick seems awkward, Perry is apologetic, and the community tries to heal from trauma.


Capote’s book is based on various settings in the US and Mexico. The Clutter family owns the river valley farm. This setting contributes much information about the family’s source of living and employment. The Holcomb setting represents the small community where the Clutter family lives and the location where the murder occurs. Additionally, Capote uses the open road as a setting in the book. The book outlines the journey of the killers beginning from Kansas to Mexico and back to Las Vegas where they are arrested. Moreover, Leavenworth’s penitentiary in Kansas plays an important setting role in the book. The murderers are executed in this prison after being convicted of killing the Clutter family.


The United States as a nation is a major theme in Capote’s book. The book contains vivid descriptions of the American geographical landscapes including plains and deserts. Capote depicts the traveling experiences over vast areas in the US comprising Florida, New York, and Alaska among other places. The book describes the myths in the US by highlighting Perry as a dreamer who is dominated by efforts of self-improvements and the use of hard and obscure words to express the American obsession. The theme of greed is also depicted in the book. Dick is desperate for wealth and previously being in prison cannot deter him from further engagement in criminal activities. Perry too expresses greed by supporting Dick’s plans for robbing the Clutter’s family.


The book contains significant and minor characters. Perry Smith is depicted as a sentimental character and a dreamer who has a volatile personality. Perry escapes from Kansas prison, but he is recaptured after the Clutter family murder case. Dick Hickok plans the robbery and gains support from Perry. Dick expresses brutality in perpetuating the killing although people consider him friendly. Herbert Clutter is a wheat farmer, father to Nancy and Kenyon, and a vital member of the Methodist church. Nancy Clutter is the daughter of Herbert, and she is the town’s favorite. Kenyon Clutter is the youngest in the Clutters family, and she is the second to be shot during the robbery at their home. Alvin Dewey is an agent of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, and he leads a team in probing the Clutter family murder case. Other minor characters in the book include Harold Nye, Roy Church, Clarence Duntz, Floyd Wells, and Mr. Helms among others.


Capote’s viewpoint is to compose an epic nonfictional novel. The foundation of Capote’s perspective originates from a newspaper article describing the strange murder of the Clutter family in Kansas. By deciding to write “In Cold Blood,” Capote aims to compose a real story concerning the murder case. Writing the book involves intensive research conducted within a span of five years. Capote’s aim is to discover the facts from the murderers and the people of Holcomb, which is essential in designing the nonfictional novel.

Gains from capote’s nonfictional writing and their implementation

Role of good memory in nonfictional writing

Nonfictional writing is based on reality as opposed to mere imaginations. Gathering information on what a writer decides to postulate to the readers requires intense research that entails interactions with various respondents. In Cold Blood is written after Capote’s comprehensive interview process with Dick and Perry, who are the murders in the Clutter’s case. Capote also acquires information from various residents of Holcomb where the crime is committed. In all the interviews conducted by Capote, the author never uses any tape recording devices. On the contrary, he uses his memory to capture the information. When ensuring success in nonfictional writing, the writers ought to practice the skill of keeping memories of occurrences and phenomena that happened in the past.

Inspirational writing

Capote’s work seeks to improve the lives of the readers and empower the foundation of the human culture. Capote incorporates excellent writing experiences and biographical illustration to support various facts in the book. The vivid and systematic description of occurrences motivates the readers of this work to become more interested in nonfictional writing. Literary works must overcome the barriers of time, nationality, and language to inspire a majority of the readers. Additionally, Capote does not include himself in the nonfictional writing. The exclusion of the writer is a good standard that is appreciated in the field of journalism. Descriptions become more attractive and real when the writers do not include themselves, especially in nonfictional writing.


Writing techniques influence the quality of most works in literature and languages. Capote’s contribution to nonfictional writing made recommendable contributions to literature. Elements of nonfiction can be traced to the setting, characters, and the themes in the novel. Some of the nonfictional writing tips that one gains from capote’s book include the importance of having a good memory and producing inspirational work.

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