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Comparing Texts – Fiction and Nonfiction

Aug 30, 2022
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It can be challenging to detect the difference between fiction and nonfiction for writers and readers. In general, fiction refers to plots, settings, and characters based on the author’s imagination, whereas nonfiction refers to accurate accounts of real people and events. However, because these two genres frequently overlap, their distinction can be obscured. 

Before we continue, it’s crucial to know that fiction and nonfiction can both be used in any medium (film, television, plays, etc.).  

Take, for example, the visual medium. There are movies, and then there are documentaries. While movies rely heavily on plots and characters, documentaries are always based on some real incidents that are narrated firsthand by people who have taken part in them.   

But in this session, we will be solely concentrating on the distinction between fiction and nonfiction in literature. 

Fiction

Fiction is created by the author and is based on his or her imagination. Fiction includes short stories, novels, myths, legends, and fairy tales. While fictional settings, narrative ideas, and characters are sometimes based on real-life events or persons, authors use them as starting points for their stories. 

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Many of Stephen King’s writings and books, for example, are set in the fictional town of Derry, Maine. Although Derry is not a real location, it is modeled on King’s hometown of Bangor. King has even designed a topography for Derry that is based on Bangor’s genuine terrain. 

Furthermore, science fiction and fantasy works set in imagined realms frequently draw inspiration from the real world. N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth series is an example of this, in which she uses real science and geological study to create a convincing universe. 

To heighten suspense and complicate the plot, fiction frequently employs specific narrative techniques, such as the use of rich, evocative sensory detail; different pacing tempos of dramatic and non-dramatic events; the juxtaposition of summarized narrative and dramatized scenes; the temporary delay and withholding of story information as well as the sophisticated use of language to describe events and portray human consciousness. 

Nonfiction 

Nonfiction, on the other hand, is factual and based on true events. Nonfiction includes histories, biographies, journalism, and essays. Nonfiction is usually held to a higher level than fiction as it has some ethics to uphold. A few smatterings of truth in a work of fiction do not make it true, yet a few fabrications in a nonfiction work can render the story untrustworthy. 

When it was discovered that James Frey, author of A Million Little Pieces, had fabricated the majority of his memoir, he was thrown out of Oprah’s Book Club in 2006. 

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Nonfiction, on the other hand, frequently employs many of the strategies used in fiction to make it more appealing. Because Capote’s descriptions and detailing of events are so vivid and evocative, In Cold Blood is widely recognized as one of the best works of nonfiction to dramatically blur the line between fiction and nonfiction. However, this has raised doubts regarding his account’s validity. 

This has spawned a new genre known as creative nonfiction, which employs fiction techniques to report on true occurrences. The term refers to how fiction authors, playwrights, and poets utilize literary art to deliver nonfiction—factually accurate prose about real people and events—in a fascinating, vivid, and dramatic way. The idea is to make nonfiction stories read as if they were fiction so that your audience is as intrigued by reality as they are by fantasy. 

Although it might be difficult to distinguish between fiction and nonfiction, especially in the hands of a competent author, here’s the bottom line: if it reports the truth, it is nonfiction. It’s fiction if it deviates from the truth. 

Fiction and NonFiction

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