Difference Between Fiction and Nonfiction

Difference Between Fiction and Nonfiction

The main difference between fiction and nonfiction is that fiction isn’t real, while nonfiction is real. Fiction is imaginary, while nonfiction is based on facts and true events.

While the division makes identifying the type of work more accessible, it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference for both readers and writers. Are you wondering what fiction and nonfiction are and how you can differentiate between the two? Read on to find all your answers. 

Difference Between Fiction and Nonfiction

Based on the author’s imaginationMeaningBased on real events, facts, and information
The purpose is to entertain the readersPurpose It focuses on educating and informing the readers
The author may or may not provide referencesReferencesIt is essential to give references
It is from the viewpoint of the narrator, which is the author or a character Perspective Nonfiction is from the point of view of the author

What is Fiction?

Fiction is an imaginary piece of work. It does not exist in reality but is perceived by the author using creative thoughts. This type of work is a particular type of imaginative prose literature, both spoken and written. It contains imaginary characters, events, and scenarios. 

Author’s Purpose

While writing fiction, the author creates an imaginary world using their imagination and introduces it to the rest of the world through their books. They can either take elements from the real world, as in realistic fiction, or create something new that doesn’t exist.

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Given the engaging and imaginative aspect of the work, readers can immerse themselves in the fantasy world. They get the chance to imagine the storyline, characters, and setting while reading a fictional work. 

It is a unique art or literature form with hypothetical characters and plots.

Difference Between Fiction and Nonfiction
The Harry Potter series is a very popular fiction series.

Some Examples of Fiction Genres

  • Mystery
  • Crime thrillers
  • Suspense
  • Romance
  • Science fiction
  • Historical fiction

What is Nonfiction?

The nonfiction genre is the broadest genre of literature since it includes factual, educational, and informative writings. It is an accurate representation of any particular subject and claims to depict only authentic facts, information, events, real places, or actual people. 

The author’s statements may not be exact, so that they might offer a true or false narrative of a particular subject. However, the author who creates the account believes it to be true when writing. 

Author’s Purpose

An author focuses on simplicity, clarity of thought, directness, and a straightforward approach while writing nonfiction.

Some Examples of Nonfiction Genres

  • Essays
  • Documentaries
  • Biographies
  • Memoirs
  • Autobiographies
  • Self-help books
  • Books on science, history, and technology, among others

The main aim of reading nonfiction is to gather more knowledge about a particular topic or issue. 

Difference Between Fiction and Nonfiction
Nonfiction works are rooted in true events or facts. Their intention is to inform.


Fiction vs Nonfiction – Key Differences


The main difference between the two genres of art is that fiction is not true, while nonfiction is. Fiction is a work created by the imagination of the author, and it has made-up characters and stories. 

On the other hand, a nonfiction piece of literature is about real-life events or someone who exists. It is not a cooked-up thought but based on facts and evidence. 

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Since it comes from the writer’s imagination and creativity, a fictional work can be highly subjective. An author makes fiction out of nothing with the aim to make the reader believe that whatever they are reading is happening. The writer has the free will to add their own opinion or perspective. 

However, nonfiction is more objective and is based entirely on facts and knowledge that is true and real. It relies solely on authentic information, and the author cannot include their own opinion in work. Since there is no scope for creativity and imagination, it tends to be relatively straightforward. 


Every work of art has an underlying purpose attached to it. Since fiction is creative and imaginative, its purpose is primarily to entertain the readers. But, nonfiction aims to educate and inform the readers with the help of facts, figures, statements, places, and real characters.


The only source of inspiration when writing a fiction story or piece is the writer’s mind and creativity. Given that there is no connection between a fictional work and the real world, there is no use of references here.  

However, references are significant in the case of nonfiction. The author must provide a reference for every fact or information that they quote in their work for a true story. It not only makes their work more thorough but also highly credible. 


Perspective is the point of view from which the book is told. Fiction is always from the viewpoint of the narrator, and it can be the author, the main character, or even switch between multiple characters at times. 

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In contrast, a nonfiction piece is only from the perspective of the nonfiction writer. The author sheds light on particular true events, topics, or situations from their viewpoint. 

Popular Fictional Works

The world of fiction is quite vast and includes numerous popular authors who have created exceptional works. Among them, the most famous fiction literature is The Harry Potter series, Pride and Prejudice, The Great Gatsby, and The Lord of The Rings trilogy. 

Popular Nonfiction Works

Nonfiction books have been helping people to get a deeper insight into the topic or gather more information. A few nonfiction works make you stop and think, further enabling you to improve. 

A few examples of nonfiction books that must be on everyone’s list are – A Short History of Everything, Sapiens, The Diary of a Young Girl, Thinking Fast and Slow, and many more.

If you’ve enjoyed this article, check out our post comparing the Chinese and Japanese languages.


Vanessa is passionate about written communication, especially after beginning her career as a middle school English teacher. She’s an experienced content marketer as well. Vanessa loves to analyze, compare, and contrast, which is why she writes for ContrastHub. Besides writing, Vanessa is a wife, mom, entrepreneur, spicy food enthusiast, comedy nerd and lifelong learner.

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