Creative Writing Nonfiction 4 min2023-08-22 00:00

What Is Nonfiction: Definition and Examples

what is nonfiction

Nonfiction writing has become one of the most popular genres of books published today. Most nonfiction books are about modern day problems, science, or details of actual events and lives.

If you’re looking for informative writing made up of factual details rather than fiction, nonfiction is a great option. It serves to develop your knowledge about different topics, and it helps you learn about real events.

In this article, we’ll explain what nonfiction is, what to expect from the nonfiction genre, and some examples of nonfiction books.

What is Nonfiction?

If you’re considering writing a book, and you can’t decide between fiction or nonfiction, it helps to know exactly what nonfiction is first.

Similarly, if you want to indulge in some self-development, and you decide to read some books, you’ll need to know what to look for in a nonfiction book to ensure you’re reading factual content.

Nonfiction Definition

To define the word nonfiction, we can break it down into two parts. “Non” is a prefix that means the absence of something. “Fiction” means writing that features ideas and elements purely from the author’s imagination.

Therefore, when you put those two definitions together, it suggests nonfiction is the absence of writing that comes from someone’s imagination. To put it in a better way, nonfiction is about facts and evidence rather than imaginary events and characters who don’t exist. 

Nonfiction Meaning

As nonfiction writing sounds like the opposite of fiction writing, you might think nonfiction is all true and objective, but that’s not the case. While nonfiction writing contains factual elements, such as real people, concepts, and events, it’s not always objectively true accounts.

A lot of nonfiction writing is opinionated or biased discussions about the subject of the writing.

For example, you might be a football expert, and you want to write a book about the top goal scorers of 2022. Your piece could be objective and discuss exactly who scored the most goals in 2022, or you could add some opinions and discuss who scored the best goals or who performed the best on the pitch.

Opinions make nonfiction books more unique to the author, as it sounds more authentic and human because we all have our own thoughts and feelings about things.

Adding opinions can also make nonfiction books more interesting for readers, as you can be more controversial or use exaggeration to increase reader engagement. Many readers like to pick up books that challenge their thoughts about certain topics.

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Is Nonfiction a Genre?

Nonfiction is a genre, but it’s more of an umbrella term for several reference and factual genres. When you’re in the nonfiction section of a bookstore or library, you’ll find the books in categories based on the overall theme or topic of the book.

There are several categories of nonfiction:

  • Historical

  • Biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs

  • Travel writing and travel guides

  • Academic journals

  • Philosophical and modern social science

  • Journalism and news media

  • Self-help books

  • How-to guides

  • Humorous books

  • Reference books

non fiction list

Historical, academic, reference, philosophical, and social science books often focus on factual representations of information about specific subjects, events, and key ideas. The tone of these books is often more formal, though there are some informal examples available.

Biography, memoir, travel writing, humor, and self-help books are creative nonfiction. This means they’re based on true events and stories, but the writer uses a lot more creative freedom to tell stories and pass on information about what they have learned from life.

Readers often criticize journalism and news media for not being objectively truthful when telling people about events. However, almost all journalism is biased or opinionated in one way or another. Therefore, it’s good to read from multiple different sources for your news updates.

What Is a Nonfiction Book Example?

If you want to read nonfiction to get an idea of what it’s like, we’ve got several examples of great nonfiction books for you to check out.

Historical: The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes

Biography: This Much is True by Miriam Margolyes

Travel Writing: Blue Highways: A Journey into America by William Least Heat-Moon

Philosophical: The Alignment Problem: How Can Machines Learn Human Values? By Brian Christian

Self-Help: Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? By Dr. Julie Smith

Humor: What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe

nonfiction book examples

How ProWritingAid Can Help You Write Nonfiction

If you want to write nonfiction, you can use ProWritingAid to ensure you avoid publishing a manuscript full of grammatical errors. Whether you’re looking for a second pair of eyes catching quick fixes as you write, or a full analysis of your manuscript once it’s written, ProWritingAid has you covered.

You can use the Realtime checker to see suggested improvements to your writing as you’re working. If you use the in-tool learning features as well, you’ll see fewer suggestions as you write because it’ll essentially train you to become a better writer.

If you’re more of a full-blown analysis editor, try using the Readability report to see suggestions highlighting where you can improve your writing to ensure more readers can understand what you’re saying. Readability is important if you want to reach more readers who have different levels of reading comprehension.

Another great report you can use for nonfiction writing is the Transitions report. Transitions are the words that show cause and effect within your writing. If you want your reader to follow your points and arguments, you need to include plenty of transitions to improve the flow of your writing.

Now that you know what nonfiction means and how ProWritingAid can help you produce a great nonfiction book, try nonfiction writing, and see how fun it is to share your knowledge and opinions with the world. Just don’t forget to check your work is factual and relevant.

Be confident about grammar

Check every email, essay, or story for grammar mistakes. Fix them before you press send.