Posted by: nancycurteman | December 23, 2020

What is Nonfiction?

What is nonfiction? The short answer is this: If a writing piece is not a made-up story, then it is nonfiction. However, nonfiction writers will tell you that the answer is much more complex than that. Let’s delve into nonfiction a bit more.

There are four main nonfiction categories, each with their own collection of subcategories and writing style:

1. Narrative. This type of nonfiction tells a true story about a person, event or place. It uses literary writing styles and techniques to tell the story. Examples of this category include history, biography, autobiography and memoirs.

2. Expository. The object of this type of nonfiction writing is to explain or inform readers about a topic. It explains what something is, who someone is, what something means, how something works or why something is important. Examples include: guides, how-to manuals and self help books.

3. Persuasive. In order to convince readers to agree with a given perspective, this style of nonfiction writing uses carefully chosen words, and develops logical arguments and a cohesive summary of facts. Examples could include political perspectives, philosophical views (anti or pro death penalty, pro or anti marijuana legalization).

4. Descriptive. The goal is to paint a picture and evoke feelings in the mind of a reader through the use of sensory words.  This category of nonfiction may include: travel guides and travelogues.

The stories written in nonfiction form must: be true and include
• facts
• accurate and well-researched facts
• attempts to inform
• narration by an author who is a real person
• be infomed by the target audience and purpose (author’s reason for writing)
• intent to inform
Nonfiction is a complex writing style but it is plays an essential role in meeting the diverse needs of readers.


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