Archive for August 6th, 2011

There’s NO SUCH THING as a nonfiction novel!

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may have come to know my penchant for, “This should go without saying, but…” THIS ONE definitely should go without saying, but there it was, on an indie book review blog:

This blog is for novels (over 50,000 words) by indie writers in any of the following fiction or non-fiction categories:  action / adventure / chick lit / drama / fantasy / historical / horror / mystery / thriller / romance / and science fiction.

Seriously. I’m not making this up. I’m not going to name the blogger here, but if you’re on the Google, you can figure it out with a few key strokes. HOW can someone post that they’re reviewing only novels … and then say they’ll accept books “in any of the following fiction or nonfiction categories”?

Let’s clarify this once and for all.

FICTION: Prose literature, esp. short stories
and novels (i.e., not poetry), about IMAGINARY
events and people.

NONFICTION: Prose writing based on FACTS,
such as biography or history… or science or politics
or music or medicine or publishing or sports or …

Thanks, Wikipedia, for the definitions.

Therefore, a novel can never be either fiction or nonfiction. It is always fiction. Period.

There is a relatively new genre known as Creative Nonfiction (also known as literary or narrative nonfiction) , which is described as writing that uses literary styles and techniques to create factually accurate narratives. It’s still FACTUAL, though, so it’s still NONfiction; however, it uses literary devices often found in novels and other fictional writing.

On the other hand, some novels are based on real-life incidents; historical fiction is one such genre. You may have seen TV crime dramas based on true stories and real characters; they are fictionalized versions of the stories on which they are based. One would never confuse an episode of Law and Order (fiction) with an episode of Cops (nonfiction). Fiction can contain real characters set in actual places the distinction is that the story is make-believe.

Are these the thing that are confusing people? I wish I knew. And I wish our indie book review blogger was the only person ever to make this blunder, but she’s not. Lots of people you’d think should know better have done the same. You, on the other hand, have NO more excuses.

Here’s to happy fiction and nonfiction writing!


P.S. The word “nonfiction” is not hyphenated. That’s another mistake you often see.


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