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Fiction vs. Non Fiction: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 11, 2023
Fiction involves created or imagined stories, while non-fiction involves factual, real-world information and events.

Key Differences

Fiction refers to literary creations that spring from an author’s imagination. Fiction allows writers to explore limitless worlds, conjure characters, and weave narratives that may not adhere to real-world facts or logic. It allows explorations into varied themes using imaginary scenarios.
Conversely, non-fiction demands adherence to factual accuracy and often explores real events, people, and truths. Non-fiction works to inform, persuade, or bring awareness to its readers, dealing with actual occurrences, data, and real-world scenarios without utilizing imaginative fabrication.
Fiction, with its unrestrained creative possibilities, allows authors to explore hypothetical situations and utilize symbolic elements. It may explore themes like love, conflict, and morality through carefully crafted, albeit imaginary, narratives, often providing an escape or speculative what-if scenarios.
In stark contrast, non-fiction works, such as biographies, documentaries, and educational texts, mandate a commitment to truth and real-world applicability. Non-fiction authors are tasked with researching, validating, and presenting factual content in a coherent and engaging manner to preserve truth.
While fiction often allows for emotional and psychological explorations through metaphorical narratives, non-fiction seeks to ground its content in pragmatic reality. Both serve crucial roles in literature by either offering an escape into alternate realities or providing knowledge and facts about our own.

Comparison Chart

Basis of Content

Imaginative and created stories
Factual and real-world information


Often to entertain and provoke thought
Typically to inform or educate

Adherence to Facts

Not necessary


Novels, short stories
Biographies, textbooks

Relationship with Reality

May not correspond with real-world scenarios
Corresponds with actual events and realities

Fiction and Non Fiction Definitions


Fiction can mean a literary genre that includes novels, short stories, and novellas, which are not factual accounts.
Her bookshelf was packed with fiction, from classic novels to modern tales.

Non Fiction

Non-fiction involves literary works that explore actual events, figures, and realities without utilizing imaginative storytelling.
Her library consists mostly of non-fiction, revealing her interest in history and science.


Fiction often uses invented characters, plots, and settings to explore various themes and concepts.
Science fiction often explores futuristic settings and advanced technological concepts.

Non Fiction

Non-fiction entails texts or content that adhere to truthful representations and factual accuracy about real-world entities or events.
The best-selling non-fiction work about the political landscape offered insights into government workings.


Fiction refers to narratives created from the imagination and not based strictly on real events.
The novel, though labeled as fiction, offered insights into societal norms.

Non Fiction

Non-fiction often seeks to communicate knowledge, present factual data, or elucidate real events, principles, or individuals without the addition of fabricated narratives.
His non-fiction articles about wildlife conservation are widely recognized for raising awareness about environmental issues.


Fiction involves creative narratives that may explore hypothetical scenarios and symbolic elements.
The fiction of George Orwell often explores themes of societal structure and authority.

Non Fiction

Non-fiction encompasses writings based on facts and real events rather than imaginative creation.
The non-fiction book about space exploration provided a wealth of factual information.


Fiction might use non-real entities or events symbolically to explore real-world themes and issues.
Her fiction cleverly intertwines mythical creatures to discuss themes of diversity and acceptance.

Non Fiction

Non-fiction might include various forms such as biographies, essays, and documentaries, aiming to inform or educate based on truth and fact.
The non-fiction documentary about climate change sparked global discussions and debates.


The category of literature, drama, film, or other creative work whose content is imagined and is not necessarily based on fact.


What are common examples of fiction?

Novels, short stories, and plays are common examples of fiction.

Can fiction be used in various media?

Yes, fiction is utilized in various media, including books, films, and games.

Is fiction always completely untrue?

No, fiction can be inspired by real events or truths but uses imaginative narratives.

Is non-fiction always objective?

While based on facts, non-fiction can present subjective perspectives or interpretations of real events.

Can non-fiction use hypothetical scenarios?

While grounded in reality, non-fiction might use hypotheticals to explain concepts or provoke thought.

What is non-fiction?

Non-fiction refers to literature based on factual information, real events, and actual people.

Can non-fiction utilize narrative structures?

Yes, non-fiction can use narrative structures to present factual information engagingly.

Is non-fiction strictly educational?

Not always, non-fiction can also entertain, inspire, and provoke thought, despite being grounded in real-world facts.

Can fiction explore real-world issues?

Yes, fiction often explores real-world themes symbolically or metaphorically through imaginative narratives.

What are examples of non-fiction works?

Biographies, documentaries, and academic texts are examples of non-fiction works.

Can fiction authors write non-fiction?

Yes, authors may write both fiction and non-fiction, depending on their interests and expertise.

Can fiction inform us about different cultures?

Yes, fiction can provide insights into different cultures, albeit through imaginative narratives.

Can non-fiction include personal beliefs?

Yes, non-fiction can include personal beliefs, provided they are presented as such and are factually accurate.

How does fiction differ globally?

Fiction can reflect cultural, social, and historical contexts, offering varied narratives and themes globally.

What is fiction?

Fiction refers to literature created from the imagination, not based strictly on real events.

Can fiction and non-fiction overlap?

While distinct, some works, like autobiographical novels, can blend fiction and non-fiction elements.

How can I tell if a book is fiction or non-fiction?

Check the book’s category or genre, usually mentioned on the cover or in its bibliographic information.

Are novels always fiction?

Typically, yes, novels are often categorized as fiction, but there can be non-fiction novels too.

Are essays considered non-fiction?

Generally, yes, essays that present factual, real-world information are considered non-fiction.

What is creative non-fiction?

Creative non-fiction utilizes literary styles and techniques to present true, factual information engagingly.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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