One Writer’s Journey

March 8, 2016

Nonfiction vs. Informational: Do you know the difference?

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:04 am
Tags: ,

Information, Questions, Help, Request, SolutionAs a nonfiction writer, I tend to have fairly firm opinions on fiction vs nonfiction.  Because of this, I sometimes find myself at odds with people who want to alter timelines or create dialogue.  Sorry folks, that’s fiction!

But what do you call a book like Brian Floca’s Locomotive?  It doesn’t have a fictional plot and characters but Floca has created a typical train taking a typical journey.

Or fact filled books with a fictional narrative like In the Canyon by Liz Garton Scanlon?  Yes, there is a ton of information about the flora and fauna of the Grand Canyon but the narrator is entirely fictional.  What do you call a book like that?

I recently read a post that called these books informational books.  They teach but they also contain fictional elements.

Other ideas that I would consider informational include an animal narrator teaching about his ecosystem, a named child taking you through a typical school day in her home country, or a named child helping a grandparent put in a garden.  Do these named children’s actually exist?  Nope.  They are 100% fictional.  Has a coyote ever taken me on a walking tour of his homeland?  Not when I was a awake, thank you.

I don’t think that this term is accepted as an industry standard.  When I did a quick Google search I saw it used to describe straight-up nonfiction, such as The World Almanac for Kids or Anne Schreiber’s Penguins, as well as this wonky in-between books, including We The Kids by David Catrow.

Why am I so interested in this?  Because I am working on a preschool astronomy text that includes 4 fictional characters who drive the story.  The information about the movement of the Earth, Sun and Moon are 100% factual but the four characters who drive the story are entirely figments of my fevered imagination.  I have to admit that I will be much more comfortable pitching this as an informational book than I would be pitching it as nonfiction.





  1. Interesting. We need to talk. what about the term “creative nonfiction’? That one baffles me. I like the idea of informational.

    Comment by stephaniebearce — March 8, 2016 @ 1:23 am | Reply

    • I get creative nonfiction but only because I’ve had an editor say “Oh, this is excellent creative nonfiction.” So — that’s what it is? Awesome.

      Comment by suebe — March 8, 2016 @ 2:44 pm | Reply

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