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Saturday, April 17, 2021

Pioneers of Narrative Nonfiction

Narrative nonfiction involves the use of novelistic techniques--scenes, dialogue, and character development--to tell a true story. Contrary to their claims, Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, Thomas Wolfe, and Hunter Thompson did not create this journalistic sub-genre. Mark Twain, Stephen Crane, Richard Harding Davis, and later, Ernest Hemingway, all journalists before becoming novelists, used narrative nonfiction in their news reporting, then later as writers of nonfiction books. A good narrative nonfiction book will usually outsell an equally good novel. Most readers prefer engaging stories that are true rather than made up.


  1. Question for you, Thornton P... Where did the recent thing of calling a non-fiction book a "novel" come from? Where I'm from, a novel is fiction and non-fiction is NOT the same as a novel!... Any ideas, or am I just an old fuddy-duddy...?

  2. A nonfiction book is not a novel. The term "narrative nonfiction" refers to fact-based literature. It's just another way to write nonfiction. All novels are narrative in nature.

  3. Thank you! I'm seeing it all over- nonfiction books being called novels! I don't know why I find it so irritating, but I do...