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What Is Artistic Nonfiction? The 4 Parts of Artistic Nonfiction Definition and Examples

You’ve encountered artistic nonfiction numerous occasions—in dialog, on social media, and on the written web page, however might you outline or clarify it if requested? Right here, we’ll take a look at the sorts of writing and speech that make tales, podcasts, and numerous different media come to life, all whereas sticking to the reality.

What’s artistic nonfiction?

Artistic nonfiction is a style of writing that mixes factual accounts present in nonfiction with literary methods present in fiction and poetry. In different phrases, it’s a real story with a contact of literary aptitude. Sure genres of nonfiction are sometimes written as artistic nonfiction, reminiscent of memoir, private essays, literary journalism, and journey and meals writing. An efficient artistic nonfiction story each informs and entertains its readers.

4 components of artistic nonfiction

The important thing distinction between conventional nonfiction and artistic nonfiction is using literary gadgets and methods. Whereas the characters and occasions in a piece of artistic nonfiction needs to be factually correct, they’re introduced in a approach that’s purposely partaking to the reader.

Some components that you simply’ll discover in artistic nonfiction embrace:

Scene setting

Writers give attention to the tangible particulars a couple of time and place to immerse their readers in a scene. This may be achieved by means of literary gadgets reminiscent of imagery, simile, and metaphor.

Character growth

Actual persons are fleshed out with backstories, mannerisms, and motivations, similar to in actual life. Some literary methods that you simply would possibly discover in artistic nonfiction are flashbacks, direct characterization, and dialogue.


Very similar to novels, artistic nonfiction tales have a starting, center, climax, and finish. The order by which these occasions unfold is the story’s narrative. Through the use of totally different narrative buildings, the author can management the tempo at which occasions unfold and draw the reader additional into the story.


In conventional nonfiction, the author retains a distance from the topic. However in artistic nonfiction, the author’s perspective, feelings, and insights will be a part of the story. That is notably true of non-public essays, which are sometimes written from a first-person perspective.

When it comes to construction, artistic nonfiction borrows components from fiction reminiscent of chapters, acts, nonlinear timelines, and pacing. In artistic nonfiction, writers form occasions into tales, in a approach that flows naturally and retains readers engaged from begin to end. However information are nonetheless main.

Types of artistic nonfiction

Frequent types of artistic nonfiction embrace memoir, private essays, literary journalism, journey writing, meals writing, and extra.


A memoir is a kind of artistic nonfiction by which the writer writes about previous experiences and occasions from their very own life. Memoirs are sometimes longer narratives that contain in depth reflection, character growth, dialogue, scene descriptions, and different literary methods to share the writer’s recollections and insights. The objective is to craft an correct however partaking life story.

Private essay

The private essay is a brief prose composition by which the writer explores a selected matter, expertise, or concept from their private perspective. Private essays use literary instruments like descriptive language, humor, and philosophical musings to share ideas and reflections with readers. Occasions and subjects are drawn from the writer’s life and might vary from the absurd to the mundane and on a regular basis.

Literary journalism

Also called narrative journalism, literary journalism combines factual reporting and analysis with vivid scenic descriptions, character profiles, dramatic pacing, and wealthy sensory particulars. In conventional journalism, there’s a construction referred to as “the inverted pyramid,” which describes the best way journalists place crucial info originally of the story, after which work their approach down by means of the main points till they attain a pointed conclusion. Literary journalism permits the journalist to desert this construction to inform the story in the best way they suppose might be most compelling to readers.

Different types

Another types of artistic nonfiction are journey writing, meals writing, and oral histories. Generally these genres overlap, like in Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love (journey writing and memoir) or My Life in France by Julia Little one (meals writing, journey writing, and memoir).

Nonfiction and fiction vs. artistic nonfiction

More often than not, the distinction between fiction and nonfiction is simple. True tales are nonfiction; invented tales are fiction. Infrequently, you’ll come throughout an editorial that reads like fiction however is predicated the truth is. You’ve discovered a bit of artistic nonfiction. So what’s the distinction between fiction, nonfiction, and artistic nonfiction?

Nonfiction merely goals to convey factual info or arguments in a transparent, simple approach. It usually lacks in depth descriptive language, character growth, or narrative components. Examples of simple nonfiction are scientific analysis papers, police studies, textbooks, conventional journalism articles, and a few biographies.

Fiction invents characters, settings, and plots which are finally merchandise of creativeness. The writer is free to change occasions and outcomes to serve the story. Fiction could also be impressed by true occasions, but when any a part of the story is unfaithful, altered, or unverifiable, then the story is taken into account fiction.

Artistic nonfiction lives in between these two genres, merging factual accuracy with literary aptitude. Nothing is made up, however using literary components would possibly make the story learn extra like a thriller, drama, comedy, or different style of fiction.

Artistic nonfiction examples

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

This memoir chronicles a 12 months that the writer, Elizabeth Gilbert, spent touring the world after a troublesome divorce. She makes use of a three-part narrative construction based mostly on the three totally different international locations she visited that 12 months. Although the occasions and characters are rooted in her experiences, her use of nontraditional narrative construction, flashbacks, imagery, and first-person perspective make it a piece of artistic nonfiction.

The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean

The Orchid Thief is a piece of literary journalism that threads collectively three distinct storylines.

Orlean makes use of in depth analysis, interviews, character research, and her personal experiences to generate the nonfiction materials. She then breaks the story into three distinct threads and braids them collectively, utilizing a nontraditional narrative construction and pacing adopted from dramatic fiction.

Irons within the Hearth by John McPhee

To report Irons within the Hearth, John McPhee traveled with a cattle model inspector by means of rural Nevada, researching and taking notes on each interplay and dialog he had alongside the best way. His long-form article is stuffed with wealthy character dialogue, descriptive scene setting, and even components of suspense and thriller as McPhee relays story after story of cattle disputes within the Wild West.

In Chilly Blood by Truman Capote

Truman Capote’s well-known work of artistic nonfiction, “In Chilly Blood” tells the true story of the homicide of a Kansas farm household. Moderately than merely presenting the information gathered by means of police studies and interviews, as a standard journalist would possibly, Capote shifts views and makes use of flashbacks to construct up the lives of his topics.

They Can’t Kill Us Till They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib

In an essay titled “It Rained in Ohio on the Evening Allen Iverson Hit Michael Jordan With a Crossover,” Hanif Abdurraqib recounts in granular element a three-second play throughout a basketball sport. The play did really occur, however the insights he gleans and the language he makes use of splinter away from an easy play-by-play.

Artistic nonfiction FAQs

What’s artistic nonfiction?

Artistic nonfiction is a style of fact-based writing that makes use of literary methods to inform true tales in a compelling approach.

How is nonfiction totally different from artistic nonfiction?

Common nonfiction focuses on simply conveying information and knowledge with out a lot literary aptitude, whereas artistic nonfiction makes use of storytelling gadgets to interact readers.

What are the totally different sorts of artistic nonfiction?

Some frequent types of artistic nonfiction embrace memoirs, private essays, literary journalism, journey writing, meals writing, and humor writing.



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