What is Narrative Nonfiction? Meaning and Types

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Have you heard about the term Narrative Nonfiction? This form of writing is popular among readers.

Narrative nonfiction brings life to true stories by inducing the element of fiction to make it more exciting and engaging. When a real-life story is told with a proper plotline, dialogues, and added suspense, it becomes all the more interesting!

In this article, I have explained the concept of narrative fiction in detail, along with recommending some books under the category. Want to learn more about the topic? Then stay with me throughout the article!

What is Narrative Nonfiction?

What is Narrative Nonfiction?

Before stating the meaning of narrative nonfiction, let me briefly describe what fiction and nonfiction are. Fiction is a type of writing based on a person’s imagination, whereas nonfiction is based on facts and features.

Narrative nonfiction is a type of nonfiction writing where a story is written based on facts, information, and true events, but it is written in the style of a fiction novel, inducing entertainment, suspense, character development, and more to make it interesting and engaging for the readers.

Creative nonfiction and literary nonfiction are other terms that can be used instead of narrative nonfiction. In short, it means incorporating literary styles and techniques to tell a true story.

In this kind of writing, a balance must be maintained between imagination and ethical behavior so that the content remains true throughout. A blend of accurate information and entertainment!

Types of Narrative Nonfiction

Types of Narrative Nonfiction

If we talk about the types of narrative nonfiction, then there are two categories they can be divided into: Media and Novels.

Modern Media

Nowadays, the media sector is also using narrative nonfiction writing. Whether it be publishing news articles, magazines, podcasts, etc., fact-based storytelling is taking its place everywhere. The difference between both styles of writing is a blur.

Modern Books

Many authors are incorporating fictional methods into nonfiction writings to make the books engaging.

Writing true factual information using elements such as plot, dialogues, mystery, and scenes is a new way to narrate the stories, known as narrative nonfiction.

What Makes Narrative Nonfiction Writing Good?

What Makes Narrative Nonfiction Writing Good

It is essential to understand the basic elements to make a narrative nonfiction writing good. You need to know a few major aspects before diving into this category. I have mentioned some points below for you to check out!


Research is a very important step in the writing process. Every type of writing requires thorough research, and every writer, regardless of the genre and category in which they are writing, has to do research beforehand.

Narrative nonfiction is a combination of fiction and nonfiction, so with the storytelling element, it should also be informative.

The factual information should be gathered through interviews, diary entries, newspaper articles, historical reports, etc., in order for the data to be accurate and reliable.

So, the writers should ensure conducting proper research, developing an understanding of the topic, and fact-checking everything before putting the data in writing.

Balance Between Fact and Fiction

While writing narrative nonfiction, it is essential to understand how much fact and fiction can be included to maintain the overall balance.

This kind of writing uses literary styles and techniques to make the story interesting, along with stating the facts and information accurately.

But it is tough to represent every detail of an event that happened long ago with complete accuracy and reliability until and unless you have records and sources for everything.

So, in these situations, authors use conjecture in the narratives to fill the gap and maintain the flow.

As a writer, ensure to maintain the balance between fact and fiction so the story is entertaining without losing the essence of truth. Also, while using conjecture, keep it subtle and informed so it does not sound like a true statement.

Author Presence

It is important to have an individual perspective within the story so it feels authentic to the readers. In narrative nonfiction, the presence of a strong authorial voice is less, but it must be subtly present throughout to drive the story.

In the stories, there are a lot of interviews, original research, reports, etc., so the readers may feel the lack of narration, but including the author’s perspective in several areas makes them a part of the story.

Writers should keep in mind to involve their voice in the story so the readers can connect with it more and understand the motive and thoughts behind the actual work.

High Quality

The quality of writing plays a vital role in narrative nonfiction. As a writer, you cannot state the facts directly without adding other elements because it will make the story bland.

Narrative nonfiction needs the elements of fiction, plot, dialogues, suspense, etc. so that readers can find it entertaining to read. Using various writing styles and techniques is essential to enhance the quality of the writing.

You can be playful, switch timelines, change perspective, make it intriguing, and add mystery to make the story overall a worthy read.

Some Narrative Nonfiction Books to Read 2024

There are several good narrative nonfiction books to read, and I have added three books below. You can have a look!

Brief Descriptions of the Nonfiction Books

The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder

The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder
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In 1740, the British vessel called Wager left England on a secret mission during the war but was wrecked on an island. After suffering months of starvation, the men on the ship built a craft and sailed for over a hundred days; finally, thirty men reached the coast of Brazil. These men had tales to tell and were greeted as heroes.

Six months later, another group arrived who had a very different tale of the past. They claimed the other group as mutineers, not heroes. Both groups accused each other, and the fight carried on. A court-martial revealed a shocking truth.

The author has incredibly narrated this incident.

In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood
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This narrative nonfiction book narrates the incident of November 15, 1959, where members of the Clutter family who lived in Holcomb, Kansas, were brutally murdered. They were killed by a shotgun held a few inches away from their faces.

A real-life cold-blooded murder mystery. The author reconstructs the murder case and the entire investigation that led to the final execution of the culprits.

Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights
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This is a classic story of a high school football team. Permian Panthers of Odessa is the best high school football team in the history of Texas. Friday Night plays of the Panthers from September to December were known to be a big deal.

The author narrates a season in the life of Odessa and shows the devotion of the community toward the team.


Nonfiction lovers should know the various types of this category to differentiate and pick their reads. Lately, this form of writing is preferred by many. I hope this article clarifies the concept of narrative nonfiction.

Do you like to read narrative nonfiction books? Which is your favorite?

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