If a friend were to ask you right now, “How do you know whether to call a book fiction or nonfiction?” what answer would you give?
You think you have a pretty good idea of how to distinguish the two — until someone asks you to articulate the difference in your own words.
It sounds so simple, right? You could just say, “Fiction is imaginary, while nonfiction is true.”
But sometimes the two overlap.
Fiction can make use of fact, and nonfiction can make use of the imagination.
If you were a judge in a fiction vs. non-fiction contest, what features would stand out for each contestant? Would fiction always be making things up? Would non-fiction be more formal and particular about details?
Is a short story always fiction? Is a magazine article always purely non-fictional?
It’s not so clear-cut after all. But there is a way to know the difference. And I hope you’re curious enough to keep reading.