Creative Nonfiction

Contributor: Suzanne Riordan. Lesson ID: 13950

You know the difference between fiction and nonfiction, but did you know there's a kind of writing that combines elements of both?



English / Language Arts
learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Lion, Otter
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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There is a land that is often forgotten when children learn geography in school.

They learn about the Land of Fiction where knights, dragons, monsters, heroes, and fairy godmothers live.

Then there's the Land of Nonfiction where real-life facts, science textbooks, and newspaper articles live.

girl studying geography


pretend map of these lands

What they don't often learn about is the Land of Creative Nonfiction, a wonderful place between Fiction and Nonfiction that combines a little of each and is really the best of both worlds.

In between fiction and nonfiction lies literary, or creative, nonfiction.

Literary nonfiction borrows elements from fiction to make facts come alive with storytelling, description, imagery, figurative language, and dialogue.

In this genre of writing, the quality of the writing is considered as important as the content. The writer's purpose is both to share information and to entertain and tell a story.

Literary nonfiction writers choose their words and tone carefully, trying to capture your interest as a reader.

Creative nonfiction writing includes:

  facts, either from the writer's life or from research
  explanations and opinions as to what those facts and experiences might mean
  the writer's own personal perspective, style, voice, and humor


Watch What is Creative Non-Fiction?, from Writers Workshop, to learn more:

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As you examine some examples of this genre, notice the creative elements in each.


A biography is the story of a person's life, written by someone else. It's usually written chronologically (in order of the events in the person's life).

Below is an excerpt from The Life of Gen. Thos. J. Jackson, "Stonewall", For the Young by Mary L. Williamson, courtesy of The Project Gutenberg. The author starts by describing Jackson's home and parents.

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An autobiography is the story of someone's life, written by that person.

The excerpt below is from The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin edited by Charles Eliot, courtesy of The Project Gutenberg.

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Personal Journal or Diary

Personal journals and diaries are a person's thoughts and reflections on his or her own life, thoughts, experiences, problems, hopes, and dreams. They are usually not meant for another person to read.

Anne Frank's diary, though not meant for others to read, was published after her death in a Nazi concentration camp and become a very famous book.

Below is an excerpt from The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition by Anne Frank, courtesy of

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An essay is a short piece of writing focusing on one subject. It usually makes an argument of some kind.

The famous writer, Ernest Hemingway, wrote a humorous essay about camping that explains why some people give up on camping after their first try.

Below is an excerpt from Camping Out, by Ernest Hemingway, courtesy of ThoughtCo.

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A speech, of course, is written to be spoken. It's usually meant to persuade people.

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy gave a speech at Rice University in which he declared that the United States would go to the moon.

Below is an excerpt from the Text of President John Kennedy's Rice Stadium Moon Speech, courtesy of NASA.

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Journalism is writing that's related to the news or whatever is going on in the world at the time.

Below is an excerpt from Fall of Berlin Wall: How 1989 reshaped the modern world by BBC News.

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Now that you've learned what creative nonfiction is, head over to the Got It? section to test your knowledge!

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