The Main Difference Between Fiction and Nonfiction Writing

When you dive into the world of books and writing, you’ll come across two main types: fiction and nonfiction. Understanding the differences between these genres can help you pick the right book for your needs, improve your own writing, or choose the right personal development courses if you wish to.

In a nutshell, nonfiction writing focuses on real-world events and real people, while fiction involves imaginative storytelling with fictional characters. Let’s break it down.

Definitions and Purposes of Fiction and Nonfiction 

Learn the key differences between fiction and nonfiction, including their distinct definitions and purposes.

Fiction writing

Fiction is all about imagination. When you read a fiction book, you’re diving into a world created by the author.

These stories might be set in real places or completely made-up worlds, and while they may sometimes reference true events, the characters, events, and rules of the world can be anything the author dreams up.

The writing style is crafted to captivate readers, with the main purpose being to entertain, although fiction can also teach lessons, explore complex ideas, or provide an escape from reality.

Nonfiction writing

Nonfiction is based on facts. These books or articles present real-life events, real people, and factual information. Nonfiction aims to inform, educate, or explain something to the reader, giving you the truth backed by research, evidence, and facts.

A nonfiction writer may also use creative nonfiction techniques to make true events more engaging, blending factual accuracy with compelling storytelling to bring real-life events to life.

Characteristics of Fiction and Nonfiction 

Understanding the characteristics of fiction and nonfiction books can help you choose the right genre for your interests or writing goals.

Fiction, including genres like science fiction and historical fiction, takes readers into imaginative worlds and explores the depths of human emotions.

Nonfiction, on the other hand, presents factual information and true events to inform and educate. 


  • Imaginative storytelling: The stories are made up by the author.
  • Characters and plot: Features characters and a plot that may or may not be based on real life.
  • Creative freedom: The author has the freedom to create anything they want.


  • Factual Information: Based on real events, people, and facts.
  • Educational: Aims to inform or educate the reader.
  • Research-Based: Backed by evidence and research.

Famous Writers for Fiction and Nonfiction 

Both fiction and nonfiction encompass a wide range of genres and styles, capturing the imaginations of readers and conveying real life experiences.

Notable writers in these genres have mastered the art of storytelling, whether through imaginative worlds or factual narratives. Let’s explore some of the most influential authors in both fiction and nonfiction.

Fiction writers:

  • J.K. Rowling: Known for the “Harry Potter” series, which takes readers into a magical world full of adventure.
  • Suzanne Collins: Author of “The Hunger Games” series, a dystopian story about survival and rebellion.
  • George Orwell: Famous for “1984” and “Animal Farm,” which explore themes of totalitarianism and political satire.
  • Jane Austen: Renowned for novels like “Pride and Prejudice” that delve into themes of love, society, and class.
  • Stephen King: Known for his prolific work in horror fiction, including classics like “It” and “The Shining.”

Nonfiction writers:

  • Walter Isaacson: Biographer of Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, and Leonardo da Vinci, known for detailed and well-researched biographies.
  • Malcolm Gladwell: Author of “The Tipping Point,” “Outliers,” and other books that explore social psychology and success.
  • Michelle Obama: Wrote “Becoming,” a memoir that provides insights into her life and experiences as First Lady.
  • Yuval Noah Harari: Historian and author of “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind,” which explores the history and impact of Homo sapiens.
  • Bill Bryson: Known for travel books and popular science writings like “A Short History of Nearly Everything.”

Examples of Fiction and Nonfiction Publications 

Here are our recommended fiction and nonfiction books for you to enjoy.

Fiction examples:

  • “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling: It takes you into a magical world with wizards, spells, and adventures. It’s perfect for when you want to escape reality and immerse yourself in an imaginative story.
  • “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee: This novel explores serious issues like racial injustice and moral growth through the eyes of a young girl in the American South.
  • “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald: A story about the American dream, wealth, and love in the Roaring Twenties.
  • “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien: An epic fantasy adventure that takes readers on a journey through Middle-earth with hobbits, elves, and other fantastical creatures.
  • “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen: A classic romance novel that deals with themes of love, marriage, and social class.

Nonfiction examples:

  • “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson: This biography provides a detailed look at the life of Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple. It’s full of factual information about his life, achievements, and challenges. This book is great when you want to learn about a real person’s life and impact on the world.
  • “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari: This book explores the history and impact of Homo sapiens on the world, from ancient times to modern-day.
  • “Becoming” by Michelle Obama: A memoir that provides insights into Michelle Obama’s life, from her childhood to her time as First Lady of the United States.
  • “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot: This book tells the true story of Henrietta Lacks and how her cells were used in scientific research without her knowledge.
  • “Educated” by Tara Westover: A memoir about a woman who grew up in a strict and abusive household in rural Idaho but eventually escaped to learn about the wider world through education.

The good thing is, whatever your chosen path is, you can make money as a writer

When to Use Each Type of Writing 

What’s great about being a writer is that we are here to stay even in the age of ChatGPT. However, it is still crucial to understand when to use each type of writing to be able to convey your message properly. 


  • Entertainment: When you want to relax and be entertained.
  • Imagination: To explore imaginative ideas and worlds.
  • Emotional connection: To connect with characters and their journeys.


  • Learning: When you want to learn something new or get factual information.
  • Inspiration: To get inspired by real-life stories and achievements.
  • Understanding: To understand complex topics or historical events.

Tips for Becoming a Fiction or Nonfiction Writer

Whether you aspire to write captivating fiction or compelling nonfiction, here are some quick tips to help you on your journey.

Tips for fiction writers:

  • Read widely: Immerse yourself in various genres, from fantasy to science fiction, to understand different writing styles and techniques.
  • Create strong characters: Develop well-rounded characters that readers can connect with emotionally.
  • Build vivid worlds: Use descriptive language to create detailed settings that bring your story to life.
  • Show, don’t tell: Engage readers by showing actions and emotions through dialogue and scenes rather than simply telling them.
  • Write consistently: Set aside regular time for writing to develop a routine and improve your skills.

Tips for nonfiction writers:

  • Research thoroughly: Gather accurate information and verify facts to ensure credibility in your writing.
  • Focus on clarity: Write clearly and concisely to convey your message effectively.
  • Engage with real life experiences: Use personal anecdotes or case studies to make your writing more relatable and impactful.
  • Structure your content: Organize your work logically, with a clear introduction, body, and conclusion.
  • Revise and edit: Continuously refine your writing by revising drafts and seeking feedback from others.

To keep track of your writing tasks and manage your projects efficiently, use Todoist. This popular task management app helps users organize, prioritize, and track their to-do lists and projects across various devices, ensuring you stay on top of your writing goals.

Recommended Courses for Writing Fiction and Nonfiction 

To enhance your skills in both fiction and nonfiction writing, there are numerous courses available. These courses can help you master the art of storytelling, develop strong research skills, and improve your overall writing techniques.

a photo of a woman writing paragraphs on her notebook

Paragraph Writing

This writing workshop will teach you techniques to write with confidence and ensure that you apply in practice what you’ve learned. Unleash your imagination and enhance your storytelling skills with creative writing. Discover techniques, prompts, and tips!

What makes this course stand out is its focus on practical application and real-world writing challenges. It’s not just about theory; it’s about actually sitting down and writing, experimenting with different styles, and receiving feedback to improve. 

What I appreciate about this course is the diverse range of writing techniques it covers, from character development to crafting compelling narratives. The inclusion of various writing forms, such as short stories, poetry, and creative nonfiction, ensures that you can explore and find your unique writing voice. The tips from experienced writers add immense value, offering insights that can elevate your creative writing abilities.

Who is this course for?

This course is designed for beginners, individuals seeking to unlock their creativity, busy individuals fitting writing into their lifestyle, and aspiring writers aiming to write full time or get published. With its comprehensive approach, this course is perfect for anyone looking to dive into the world of creative writing.

a man holding a pen and a paper thinking of what's next to write that will stand out

7 Lessons on Writing for Becoming a Standout Writer

“7 Lessons on Writing for Becoming a Standout Writer” is designed to rapidly improve your writing skills through targeted, sentence-level lessons. Created by a university professor and published author, it focuses on the seven most common writing problems, providing practical exercises and assignments for quick improvement.

The course stands out by focusing on essential lessons rather than overwhelming you with extensive grammar rules. It has been tested and refined at top universities, ensuring its effectiveness. The promise of noticeable improvement in just a few weeks makes it particularly appealing.

I appreciate the course’s focus on actionable steps and real-world applicability. The lessons on eliminating weak language and adding vivid imagery were especially helpful, making my writing more engaging and precise.

Who is this course for? 

This course is perfect for anyone looking to improve their writing quickly. Whether you’re a student, professional, or aspiring writer, the practical and focused approach will help you impress employers, editors, and readers. It’s ideal for those seeking clear and effective methods to enhance their writing skills.

Creative Writing For Beginners: Unlock Your Creativity

“Creative Writing For Beginners: Unlock Your Creativity” is designed to help new writers unleash their imagination and enhance their storytelling skills. This course covers essential techniques, prompts, and tips to develop your creative writing abilities, whether you aim to write full-time or fit writing into your busy lifestyle.

This course stands out by offering a comprehensive approach to creative writing, covering various forms like personal essays, short stories, poetry, and creative nonfiction. The focus on practical, beginner-friendly techniques for character development, narrative crafting, and consistent writing routines makes it accessible and engaging for new writers.

I appreciate the course’s emphasis on real-world application and flexibility. The lessons are designed to fit into a busy schedule, making it easier for anyone to start writing. The expert tips and targeted exercises provided a solid foundation, helping me to unlock my creativity and improve my writing skills effectively.

Who is this course for? 

This course is perfect for beginners who want to explore creative writing, individuals looking to unlock their creativity, and busy individuals seeking to incorporate writing into their lifestyle. It’s also ideal for aspiring writers who eventually want to write full-time or get published, offering a structured and supportive learning environment.

a woman writing a novel draft on a paper with a laptop beside her

Novel Writing: Master Your Inner Writer!

“Novel Writing: Master Your Inner Writer!” guides aspiring novelists from concept to completion, covering everything from structuring your novel to publishing options. Taught by bestselling author Jo Wynn, it’s perfect for both beginners and experienced writers.

The course combines creative inspiration with practical storytelling techniques. It addresses writer’s block, character development, and offers self-assessment questions and creative prompts to enhance your skills.

Jo Wynn’s expert advice and insider tips are incredibly valuable. The focus on both traditional and digital publishing is particularly useful, making the course versatile and comprehensive.

Who is this course for? 

Ideal for aspiring novelists, individuals seeking creative direction, those struggling with writer’s block, and anyone passionate about writing. This course provides the tools and motivation to bring your novel to life.

a woman typing her first novel on her laptop

Fiction Writing: Write And Publish Your First Novel

“Fiction Writing: Write And Publish Your First Novel” is designed to help aspiring writers develop their first novel and successfully publish it. This comprehensive course covers everything from generating ideas and crafting plots to publishing strategies and book distribution.

The course stands out with its thorough approach, providing a proven storytelling formula, advanced writing techniques, and practical tips for establishing productive writing routines. It also includes detailed guidance on publishing options and effective distribution strategies.

I found the course incredibly practical and motivating. The insights into generating ideas and constructing plots were particularly valuable. The step-by-step guidance on publishing and distribution made the process feel accessible and achievable.

Who is this course for? 

This course is ideal for beginners with a desire to write and publish their first novel. It’s perfect for aspiring authors seeking comprehensive guidance on both the creative and logistical aspects of novel writing and publishing.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is fiction writing?

Fiction writing involves creating stories from the imagination. These stories can include made-up characters, events, and settings, and are primarily intended to entertain.

What is nonfiction writing?

nonfiction writing is based on factual information and real events. It aims to inform, educate, or explain something to the reader using researched and verified facts.

What are some examples of fiction writing?

Examples of fiction writing include novels like “Harry Potter” by J.K. Rowling, “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins, and “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

What are some examples of nonfiction writing?

Examples of nonfiction writing include biographies like “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson, memoirs like “Becoming” by Michelle Obama, and historical accounts like “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari.

What are the main characteristics of fiction writing?

Fiction writing is characterized by imaginative storytelling, creative freedom, and the use of made-up characters and plots. It often aims to entertain or explore complex ideas through narrative.

Key Takeaways 

Knowing the main differences between fiction and nonfiction can help you choose the right book or improve your writing. Fiction involves imagination and storytelling, while nonfiction is based on facts and real events. Both genres serve unique purposes, making them valuable in different contexts. Whether for entertainment or information, a world of fiction and nonfiction awaits your exploration.

Ready to enhance your writing skills? With the Skill Success All Access Pass, you can access a variety of courses on both fiction and nonfiction writing. Start your journey today and turn your ideas into captivating stories or informative masterpieces. Enroll now and transform your writing!

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