Non-Fiction Texts

Types of Literature:

Literature: it's a big term that encompasses just about every type of written word. It may be overwhelming to think about all the different types of literature, but there are actually two main groups all literature can be categorized under. These two categories are fiction and nonfiction. Fiction includes all written works that are invented or made-up by the author. This includes novels, short stories, and poems. Nonfiction, then, comprises of the written works based on real events. In this way, literature that is nonfiction can help us understand our world. Let's look closer at the characteristics and examples of nonfiction.

Characteristics of Nonfiction:

There are several important traits of all nonfiction works. Most importantly, nonfiction writing must involve real people, places, and events. The stories told in nonfiction works must be true. If something in the story is made-up, then it falls under fiction. Nonfiction must also contain facts, which are information that can be proved to be true. With this in mind, a writer can select and organize the facts in a number of ways in order to accomplish his purpose. Some facts can be omitted, and others can be shown in a specific light, but overall, facts must be present in the written work.

Most nonfiction works also have a similar author's purpose, which is the reason the author writes. Most nonfiction is written to express or to inform. If the author's purpose is to express, the concepts expressed are always based on true, real-life situations. Because of this, one could argue all nonfiction serves to inform the reader, as well.

Types of Nonfiction:

Now, let's look at the two types of nonfiction. The first is literary nonfiction, which includes nonfiction writing that reads like fiction. This means that literary nonfiction includes the elements of fiction, like characters, setting, and plot; however, in nonfiction these elements must be real and not imaginary. The stories are meant to amuse the reader, as well as inform on true stories. Literary nonfiction includes biographies, autobiographies, and essays.

The other type of nonfiction is informative nonfiction. The purpose of informative nonfiction is to explain or inform about a concept or situation. This type of nonfiction exists to provide the reader with factual information. Informative nonfiction includes articles and interviews.

Autobiographical Nonfiction:

Much of literary nonfiction can be described as autobiographical, which is writing from the author's perspective. This type of writing is usually in first person point of view, which means the narrator is a character in the story. Since the author is the narrator, this means the author is the main character in the story. Most autobiographies are novel-length since they cover the subject's entire life. However, there are many shorter works that are still considered autobiographical.

The first such work is a personal journal, which is a daily written record of personal experiences and observations. This usually consists of short pieces of writing each day. For example, if you were assigned to design an experiment for a science project, you might keep a journal to describe what you did for that experiment every day until the project was due. A journal could be kept for a few weeks or even several years but always has a factual account of experiences of the author.

Another related autobiographical work is the diary. Similar to journals, diaries contain a daily account of experiences. The difference is diaries include personal thoughts and feelings. While a journal is more based on facts, a diary can have a person's deepest secrets and desires; as such, it is usually not meant to be shared with anyone.

A third type of autobiographical work is the memoir. Memoirs are extremely similar to journals and diaries in that memoirs relate the author's personal experiences. Like diaries, memoirs can also reveal the narrator's personal feelings. Memoirs are different because they are not written daily, are meant to be published and shared, and usually focus on one specific event or theme.

A final example of an autobiographical work of literary nonfiction is a letter. A letter is a written message addressed to a person or organization. Letters often contain personal thoughts and opinions, but they are directed at just one person. Letters are never really meant to be published and are usually discarded once the message is received. Emails can be considered a more advanced type of letter.


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