Log In Start studying!
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

Non Fiction Genres

Non Fiction Genres

Non-fiction texts are some of the most popular forms of literature. Every day you come into contact with non-fiction texts, sometimes without even knowing! This is why genres are so important to non-fiction literature.

Non-fiction genres: definition

Non-fiction is a very broad category of literature, but what is it exactly?

Non-fiction - Literature that recounts a true story and is informative.

Non-fiction must be based on fact, it cannot centre around a fictional story. The purpose of non-fiction novels is principally to inform the reader about a true story. Like any category of literature, non-fiction can be broken down into different genres and subgenres.

Genre - A category of literature.

Genres are an easy way to distinguish between different types of literature. There are four main genres in non-fiction literature that are used to differentiate how these novels are presented. From there, there are multiple subgenres focusing on the content that these texts may cover.

Genres of literary non-fiction

The three main genres of literary non-fiction are expository, narrative, and persuasive.

Expository non-fiction

One of the best-known genres of non-fiction is the expository book.

Expository non-fiction - Literature that shares information in a direct manner.

Expository non-fiction books are perhaps the easiest non-fiction genre to spot. These are texts that present the facts of a topic in a straightforward manner. These books typically do not follow one particular story. Instead, expository texts will frequently present research on a certain topic without any extra narrative. Subgenres of the expository non-fiction genre include academic texts, recipe books or other instruction manuals.

Narrative non-fiction

Narrative non-fiction is one of the most popular genres of non-fiction texts.

Narrative non-fiction - A true story that is presented in the same manner as a fictional tale.

This genre of non-fiction novel is one of the broadest as it encompasses any true story that is told in the style of a fiction novel. To put it simply, narrative non-fiction refers to facts that are told as a story. There are many subgenres of this category, including (auto)biographies, travelogues, and literary journalism.

This genre often includes descriptive non-fiction. This is a subgenre of non-fiction that uses figurative language to create a descriptive story. It is often used to create texts such as travel guides. Descriptive non-fiction can be used to enhance the story being told in a piece of narrative non-fiction.

Persuasive non-fiction

Persuasive non-fiction is a genre that consists of works that argue for an opinion.

Persuasive non-fiction - A text that aims to convince the reader of a viewpoint.

This is a common genre of non-fiction that can overlap with other categories, such as expository non-fiction. The purpose of persuasive non-fiction is to argue either in favour or against something. It will present the facts of the argument and try to persuade the reader to agree. Persuasive non-fiction often takes the form of academic texts such as a thesis or an essay. Features of this genre include logical arguments and cohesive summaries.

Non-fiction genres examples

Expository non-fiction

Expository non-fiction texts are extremely common, One of the most popular types of expository texts is the encyclopedia. These texts provide information in a straightforward, structured manner. An example of this can be found in the Encyclopedia Britannica. Below is an extract from the text's chapter on English Literature - look at how facts are presented!

English literature, [is] the body of written work produced in the English language by inhabitants of the British Isles (including Ireland) from the 7th century to the present day.

Narrative non-fiction

A notable example of narrative non-fiction is the true crime novel, In Cold Blood (1965) by Truman Capote. The novel retells the story of the murders of the Clutter family. It is best known for how it blends together facts with a literary narrative. An extract from In Cold Blood (1965), is found below, notice how Capote presents the facts of the case in a literary manner,

Once a thing is set to happen, all you can do is hope it won't. Or will-depending. As long as you live, there’s always something waiting, and even if it’s bad, and you know it's bad, what can you do? You can’t stop living.

Chapter 1

Persuasive non-fiction

An example of persuasive non-fiction can be found in academic texts. The purpose of these texts is to argue in favour of a view point. This means that the text will aim to persuade the reader to agree with it. An example of this can be seen in the article Joyce's Exile: The Prodigal Son by Joseph Kelly. In the article, Kelly aims to persuade the reader that Joyce's life was more typical and ordinary than previous literature would suggest.

The more-or-less settled version of James Joyce's life paints him as a bohemian iconoclast who refused to conform to the conventions of responsibility demanded by middle-class society. A reconsideration of the published biographical evidence and a number of unpublished letters (now at Cornell University) exchanged with his siblings suggest that we should regard Joyce as much more conventional.

Non-fiction subgenres: examples

There are also multiple subgenres of non-fiction texts. These include academic texts, biographies and travelogues.

Academic texts

Academic texts are one of the most common subgenres of non-fiction texts.

Academic texts - These are specialised texts which are created by academics that argue a point or report observations.

Academic texts must be critical and objective as they are reporting facts and arguing a viewpoint. These texts are always written formally, and use full punctuation and grammar. They follow a strict structure with a clearly earmarked introduction, main body and conclusion. These texts are non-fiction as they are completely based on fact and they typically fall into the expository genre of non-fiction works. As they try to convince the reader of an argument they are also a subgenre of the persuasive non-fiction genre. Examples of different types of academic texts include research papers, reviews, reports, essays, and critique papers.

Biography

A popular subgenre of the narrative non-fiction genre is the biography.

Biography - A text containing the history of a person's life.

Biographies are one of the most common forms of the non-fiction genre, and they can be found in any bookshop or library across the world. The biography tells the true story of a person's life. When it is written by the subject themself, it is referred to as an autobiography. Biographies typically contain basic information about the subject, as well as stories from major events in their lives.

A famous example of a biography is Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsberg (2015) by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik. The biography chronicled the life of American judge, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. An extract from the biography is found below.

For some reason, people repeatedly have asked RBG when she thought there would be enough women on the court. The question is asinine, her answer effective: ''When there are nine''.

Chapter 10

Travelogues

Another common subgenre of the non-fiction genre is the travelogue.

Travelogue - The true account of the experiences of a traveler while on their journey.

Travelogues relay the journey of a traveler to the audience. These texts differ from travel guides as they fall into the narrative non-fiction genre, rather than the expository genre. Travelogues use descriptive language to recount where the traveler went, as well as the people, food, culture, and landscapes they came into contact with. Travelogues are an easily accessible way for readers to learn about different places, while still following a narrative.

One of the most famous examples of a travelogue from the 20th century is A Walk in the Woods (1998) by Bill Bryson. The book follows Bryson as he attempts to hike the Appalachian Trail in America. An extract from the novel can be found below,

I wanted to quit and to do this forever, sleep in a bed and in a tent, see what was over the next hill and never see a hill again. All of this all at once, every moment, on the trail or off.

Chapter 18

Non-fiction genres: relevance

Non-fiction is an important genre of literature as it is a clear and easy way to convey facts and true stories. In turn, genres of non-fiction are a good way for readers to find the facts they are looking for.

For example, a travel guide and a travelogue are very different, as the former is a piece of expository non-fiction and the latter is typically a piece of narrative non-fiction.

These genres are a good way to differentiate between non-fiction texts, allowing the reader to pick a text suitable for their needs.

Non-Fiction Genres - Key takeaways

  • Non-fiction is literature that recounts a true story in an informative way.
  • A genre is a category of literature.
  • Non-fiction genres include expository, narrative and persuasive.
  • Subgenres of these include academic texts, biographies and travelogues.
  • Genres are an easy way for the reader to pick a text suitable for their needs.

Frequently Asked Questions about Non Fiction Genres

The non-fiction genre refers to texts that inform the reader about a true story or argument. 

There are three main genres of non-fiction texts expository, narrative, and persuasive. Descriptive non-fiction is sometimes categorised as the fourth genre, however, it is often classified as a sub-genre of narrative non-fiction

Examples of the non-fiction genre include travelogues and academic texts. 

One of the most popular non-fiction genres is a biography, which is a type of narrative non-fiction. 

While most horror is fiction, if the text is presenting the true facts of a story in order to inform the reader, then it is non-fiction. 

Final Non Fiction Genres Quiz

Question

What is a blog?

Show answer

Answer

  • A blog is an online record of an individual's personal experiences, thoughts, and opinions.
  • A blog consists of dated posts with the most recent posts displayed at the top.
  • A blog can be considered a modern literary form.

Show question

Question

What genre does the blog belong to?

Show answer

Answer

Non-fiction, more specifically creative non-fiction.

Show question

Question

What are the functions of the blog?

Show answer

Answer

  • To share personal experiences.
  • To share commentary.
  • To offer insight.

Show question

Question

What are the characteristics of blogs?

Show answer

Answer

  • Personality
  • Regularity
  • Interactivity
  • Intertextuality.

Show question

Question

What is the writing style of the blog?

Show answer

Answer

  • Conversational
  • Informal
  • Colloquial
  • Intimate.

Show question

Question

What are the common structures of the blog?

Show answer

Answer

  • Traditional structure
  • List structure.

Show question

Question

What are the popular types of blogs?

Show answer

Answer

  • Journal
    • Educational diary
  • Commentary
  • Advice and instruction.

Show question

Question

What is the main disadvantage of the blog form?

Show answer

Answer

Blogs lack the journalistic integrity that fact-checked and rigorously researched journalistic articles have.

Show question

Question

What are the advantages of the blog form?

Show answer

Answer

  • Easy to access and use
  • Free to create and free to read
  • Blogging helps writers build an audience
  • The blog is a versatile form.

Show question

Question

Why are blogs important?

Show answer

Answer

  • Blogs have democratised writing.
  • Blogging keeps writing alive.

Show question

Question

What is creative non-fiction?

Show answer

Answer

Creative non-fiction is the imaginative representation of reality through the use of literary devices, styles and techniques.

Show question

Question

What is the purpose of creative non-fiction?

Show answer

Answer

Creative non-fiction seeks to entertain as well as to inform. A deeper purpose of creative non-fiction is to convey a more profound layer of truth about real events and people by using literary techniques and styles.

Show question

Question

What are the main principles of creative non-fiction?

Show answer

Answer

  1. A writer of creative non-fiction must write about a subject and events that have either taken place in, or refer to, the real world, and not an imagined subject and event.
  2. The writing should make thoughtful observations on its subject, life and the world.

Show question

Question

What are the key elements of creative non-fiction to consider in your analysis?

Show answer

Answer

  • Descriptive and figurative language
  • Point of view
  • Voice
  • Tone
  • Style
  • Character
  • Setting
  • Structure.

Show question

Question

What are the key techniques of creative non-fiction?

Show answer

Answer

Figurative language and narrative and character arcs.

Show question

Question

What are the key types of creative non-fiction?

Show answer

Answer

  • Life writing
    • Biography and autobiography
    • Memoir
    • Personal essay
    • Travel writing
  • Non-fiction novel or 'faction'.

Show question

Question

How does Virginia Woolf use creative and literary elements in her essay A Room of One's Own (1929)?

Show answer

Answer

Woolf describes a thought that feels insignificant to her as a 'fish', and invites the reader to catch it. She is referring to her thesis that for a woman to be successful, she needs money and a room of her own. She also compares wasted potential in woman writers to a 'rust eating away the bloom of the spring'. Woolf's use of vivid imagery drives home her feminist message.

Show question

Question

How does Maya Angelou use creative and literary elements in her autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969)?

Show answer

Answer

Maya Angelou uses the metaphor of a rusty razor to describe how the alienating effects of racism feel like a hurtful insult. Angelou communicates the psychological and emotional impact through creative elements.

Show question

Question

How does Claudia Rankine use creative and literary elements in Citizen (2014)?

Show answer

Answer

Rankine describes the bodies of African Americans as 'cupboards' of the past of slavery. This provides an insight into how black Americans like Rankine and those whose perspectives informed her book experience racism in their day to day life.

Show question

Question

What is the history and context of creative non-fiction?

Show answer

Answer

  • A new style of journalism became popular in the 70s that promoted the use of literary devices and styles
  • The influence of the postmodernist movement also led to an increase in authors blending different genres and creative elements.

Show question

Question

What is true crime?

Show answer

Answer

A nonfiction literary, film, and podcast genre where the author examines an actual crime and details the actions of real individuals.  

Show question

Question

What century can the true crime genre be traced back to?

Show answer

Answer

16th century

Show question

Question

What two countries were producing true crime literature in the 16th century?

Show answer

Answer

The U.K.

Show question

Question

While Jack the Ripper was active in London, how newspapers were sold per day in the city?

Show answer

Answer

30,000

Show question

Question

What is a detective novel?

Show answer

Answer

A story where the plot revolves around the investigation of a crime. 

Show question

Question

Thomas de Quincey cited which philosopher in his essays on true crime?

Show answer

Answer

Immanuel Kant

Show question

Question

Which novel is seen as the first modern true crime book?

Show answer

Answer

In Cold Blood (1966) by Truman Capote is seen as the first modern true crime novel. 

Show question

Question

What new media has led to an increase in the production of true crime content in the 21st century?

Show answer

Answer

Podcasts

Show question

Question

True or False: True crime can not advocate for the innocence of an incarcerated individual. 

Show answer

Answer

False! True crime can advocate for the innocence of an incarcerated individual. 

Show question

Question

What is a documentary?

Show answer

Answer

A film or television programme that uses pictures or interviews with people involved, to provide a factual report on a particular subject. 

Show question

Question

Did  Errol Morris' 1988 piece The Thin Blue Line use reenactments? 

Show answer

Answer

Yes! Errol Morris' 1988 piece The Thin Blue Line did use reenactments.

Show question

Question

Have streaming services altered the true crime genre?

Show answer

Answer

Yes! True crime documentaries are now constructed to encourage 'binge watching'.

Show question

Question

Has the true crime genre been criticised? 

Show answer

Answer

Yes! The true-crime genre has been criticised. 

Show question

Question

What are two critiques of the genre?

Show answer

Answer

That it re-traumatises victims of crime. 

Show question

Question

What was the first modern iteration of the true-crime documentary?

Show answer

Answer

The first modern iteration of the true-crime documentary was The Staircase (2004) by  Jean-Xavier de Lestrade.

Show question

Question

What is a travelogue? 

Show answer

Answer

A travelogue is a truthful account given by a traveller of their experiences on a journey. 

Show question

Question

True or False: A travelogue is a type of fiction novel.

Show answer

Answer

False! A travelogue is a type of non-fiction novel. 

Show question

Question

In which country was the first travelogue written?

Show answer

Answer

Ancient Greece

Show question

Question

Are there set rules for writing a travelogue?

Show answer

Answer

No! There are no set rules for writing a travelogue. 

Show question

Question

What perspective are many travelogues written in?

Show answer

Answer

First-person

Show question

Question

What pronouns are used in a first-person narration?

Show answer

Answer

I

Show question

Question

Why is a first-person narration useful in a travelogue? 

Show answer

Answer

It is useful as it can relay the thoughts and feelings of the author. 

Show question

Question

Is there a fixed structure in a travelogue? 

Show answer

Answer

No! there is not a fixed structure in a travelogue. 

Show question

Question

What is typically the longest portion of a travelgoue? 

Show answer

Answer

In the middle - when the narrator details the events of their trip. 

Show question

Question

True or False: One of Mark Twain's best selling novels is a travelogue.

Show answer

Answer

True! One of Mark Twain's best selling novels is a travelogue. 

Show question

Question

Should travelogues use descriptive language?

Show answer

Answer

Yes! Travelogues should use descriptive language.

Show question

Question

Which is not a technique that can create descriptive language? 

Show answer

Answer

Commas

Show question

Question

What country does Bill Bryson travel around in Notes from a Small Island (1995)?

Show answer

Answer

Great Britain

Show question

Question

Why are travelogues important?

Show answer

Answer

They are important as travelogues are an accessible way for readers to learn about different countries.

Show question

Question

True or False: Many travelogues use a humorous tone. 

Show answer

Answer

True! Many travelogues use a humorous tone. 

Show question

60%

of the users don't pass the Non Fiction Genres quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.