Forms of Non-Fiction Storytelling

Not all writers rely on the world of fiction when telling their stories. It takes a special kind of skill to create stories that come from real life. If you’re the type of writer looking to foray into nonfiction, here are the subgenres you may want to explore.

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  1. Creative Nonfiction

    Creative nonfiction is an umbrella term for many forms of creative writing that does not involve fiction. This category may include personal essays, travel writing, food writing, memoirs, and other personal writings. What distinguishes creative nonfiction from others is that this form tends to read more like literature. The way these stories are told have to have a sense of relatability and artfulness to them. Readers must be able to experience what the writer is experiencing, not just be told what they have experienced. However, many creative nonfiction writers also walk the fine line toward becoming overly poetic.

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  1. Biography

    A biography tells the story of a person. It goes beyond the basic facts about a person and actually tells their life experiences in chronological order. Biographies may choose to highlight a portion of the person’s life and may also include an analysis of their personality. A biography whose subject is its author is called an autobiography. On the other hand, an authorized biography is one that is commissioned by the subject themselves, often with the subject’s participation. Initially, biographies were considered part of historical studies, and early biographies focused only on people with significant historical importance. The genre started to branch away from historical writing in the 18th century and became an independent genre by the 20th century. Today, any person, famous or not, can create an autobiography or have a biography of their life written about them.


  1. Memoir

    Like a biography, a memoir tells the story of events in a person’s life. Memoirs are unlike biographies in that they lack the personality study that is found in the latter. Moreover, biographies tend to focus on chronicling a person’s life, whereas a memoir chronicles a person’s experiences. In other words, memoirs focus more on the events and experiences rather than the person.


  1. Journalism

    Journalism, as a whole, refers to the collection, assessment, and presentation of news and information. As a type of nonfiction, journalism takes on many forms such as news writing, sports news writing, editorial writing, feature writing, science editorial writing, and science feature writing. The main intent of journalism is to deliver news, data, and information in a way that could be consumed by the public easily and efficiently.


  1. Self-help

    Self-help is a type of expository writing where readers are instructed on solving personal problems. This is a fairly new genre, popularized in the late 20th century. Ancient examples of self-help are “behavior guides” and “codes of conduct” which were popular in ancient Egypt. In the West, early self-help books became popular during the Renaissance. Its popularity rose to cultural prominence in the late 20th century when traditional psychology and psychotherapy books were written in a more casual, more impersonal, and more conversational tone. Self-help books often focus on psychological aspects such as improving the self, improving one’s interpersonal relationships, and improving the aspects of one’s mind.


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