Books are the best companions one can wish for, all because of the gift of literature. Writing a book is putting the human conscience into words on paper. It is the most incredible tool to represent themes, art, and symbolism. You cannot call the note left on the fridge literature, but you can consider a century-old news article a highly valued piece of writing.
Literature knows no bounds, every story, subject, and person can be depicted in words. From thousands of years of history to infinite realms of imagination, a pen and paper can hold anything and everything. You can find books on various topics inspired by real-life events and human vision, but choosing between the titles and finding the right book that suits your taste can be challenging.
Therefore, literature is categorized into multiple genres: fiction, nonfiction, drama, folktale, poetry, etc. These genres help the readers choose according to their preferences and make the most out of their reading experience. If you are an author planning to enter the literary world, you have come to the right place; here, we will explain the difference between these two forms of literature.
What Is the Difference Between Fiction and Nonfiction?
The significant difference between the two genres is that fiction results from the author’s imagination, while nonfiction accounts for present or past events, personal or universal. In fiction, you can let your imagination run wild and conjure worlds out of nothing, but in nonfiction, you must stay true to the facts and figures.
Let’s dig deeper into the characteristics of both literary forms to describe their differences.
Let’s Discover Fiction
When you say Wingardium Leviosa, does your book start levitating like it did in Harry Potter? Or have you ever come across a princess who can control fire-breathing dragons like in the Game of Thrones? No, right? Because these are made-up stories.
What we read in the books or see on the screens is the creative power of an individual’s mind. Fiction is what we call it, which is not objective or factual. It is simply an invention of the human mind which gives rise to poetry, prose, scripts, and movies. This genre also has a range of subgenres like action, sci-fi, crime, thriller, horror, rom-com, fantasy, etc. The newest addition to this list is contemporary fiction, also known as realistic fiction, inspired by mundane life and current or historical events without any magic or fantastical element.
Moving Towards Nonfiction
What if everyone read Newton’s discovery of gravity as:
The apple flew away on a flying carpet.
How would the world be functioning, then? In mayhem, probably. This is why sticking to reality is so important, and this is where nonfiction comes into play. You read nonfiction in almost every part of your life, from biographies and historical books to self-help, religion, and business, among many other subgenres. It wouldn’t be unfair to say that human survival depends on nonfiction.
Nonfiction, as the name suggests, sticks only to facts and figures. It gives an original account of current and historical events. It has only one goal, to provide information to the reader. In nonfiction, the author’s qualifications, expertise, and experience matter more than the author’s creativity.
Fiction vs. Nonfiction: A Comparison
Although many of you are already familiar with the two categories, here is a broader perspective on the difference between fiction and nonfiction.
Writing Freedom and Flexibility
Flexibility is the golden rule of writing fiction.
It means you are writing of your own accord, letting the creative energy flow from your mind into your pen. It also means accepting change and adding variation to the narrative. For example, instead of writing about the villain’s death, you let the story take a different turn, transforming the character from evil to good. It is a handy skill that gives you the opportunity to explore a story from different angles. A writer can create a separate universe with characters of their own choice. The Marvel Universe and the DC Comics franchise are great examples. Writers or creators have a significant margin to mold the story in fiction.
But that is not the case with nonfiction. Even the slightest change in information can turn the whole narrative upside down. Authors must only use facts, figures, evidence, and real-world examples. A self-help book cannot convince readers to boost their confidence with a made-up fact; it has to use a realistic approach to persuade them.
Direction of the Narrative
Fiction can be both direct and indirect, but mostly, it is indirect as a lot of world-building is involved in the background. Authors mostly use indirect characterization to describe a character’s features, emotions, and stances. Indirect book content uses metaphors and similes in the excerpt to sketch an object, person, or feeling. For example, in Anne of Green Gables, a character describes their life as: “My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes.” This line represents the character’s dark past and residual trauma.
On the other hand, nonfiction has to be straightforward. Imagine a person reading a self-help book on healing trauma, and the book has a whole account of what trauma feels like instead of describing how to heal it. It is usually written in an expository style with concise language. Nonfiction sticks to the factual context instead of a made-up plot.
Nature of the Literary Form
Fiction is subjective, which in literature refers to a narrative influenced by personal opinions, feelings, and bias. It can be an extension of the author’s own persona or a mix-up between the emotions and prejudices of other individuals. Every poem, prose, or play in fiction reflects the author’s imagination that is sometimes inspired by the real world. But it does not in any way portray the real world.
Meanwhile, nonfiction is objective. It is based on historical, general, scientific, and empirical information. A reader can cross-check any accurate tidbit in a nonfiction book online for confirmation. For example, a self-help book says that gardening and spending time around plants can help reduce stress because many studies have proven its authenticity.
Anything you can verify is nonfiction, and things you cannot are fiction.
Fiction is written for entertainment and leisure. Stories about mythical creatures, out-of-the-world scenarios, and supernatural beings can be found in the pages of a fictional story. From Romeo and Juliet to The Lord of the Rings, fiction is meant to feed our imaginations and help us explore unreal opportunities.
Nonfiction has a simple goal, to provide information. Opposed to the author’s creativity, nonfiction heavily relies on facts. You will never read an autobiography about intergalactic wars and superheroes because it is unreal. But you will find out what happened after the world war or who was the first person who walked on the moon. However, not every piece of writing can be considered literature; it depends on the literary value. A letter you wrote to your friend may not hold as much value as the letter that Abraham Lincoln wrote because of its political and historical significance.
Fiction is always executed from the writer’s perspective. It usually consists of the writer’s POV concerning the plot. How a writer chooses to narrate a story and which points they highlight cannot be changed by the reader.
Nonfiction cannot be executed with the writer’s perspective only, except for biographies or monologues. It is a combination of both personal and other’s opinions. Usually, these books have a neutral narrative.
Fiction does not need to cross-check references until or unless the writer is working on a contemporary or historical genre. Overall, fiction does not need concrete factual information to fulfill its purpose. In comparison, nonfiction needs an authentic and verified reference to sound credible.
The Verdict: Difference Between Fiction and Nonfiction
After a comprehensive analysis of both genres, it is fair to say fiction is accessible, entertaining, and can be written from a single person’s perspective. Still, it does not mean it is easy to accomplish. Fiction requires brainstorming, attention to detail, and world-building to make it work.
Meanwhile, nonfiction is straightforward and sticks to factual information; the writer does not have the freedom to mold the narrative according to their perspective.
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Ted Delgrosso Brings You Fiction Inspired by Reality
Now that you know the difference between fiction and nonfiction, you can choose according to your preference and take your reading experience to the next level.
Contemporary fiction is filled with many great books and novels, especially Ted Delgrosso’s collection of short stories: Ted’s Tales. Inspired by life and nature, the author divided the book into contemporary fiction and sci-fi.
The modern fiction section is filled with stories of nostalgia, childhood memories, horror, humor, and folktales. This one-of-a-kind book is perfect for individuals who have significantly less time on their hands but love reading.
If you like fiction touched with the essence of childhood, adulthood, and the future, then Ted’s Tales by Ted Delgrosso is the perfect read to start your literary journey.