Tag Archives: conversation

Novel: Fiction or Non-Fiction?

My boyfriend and I had the following conversation at 3am, and now I’m curious as to how other people view the term “novel.”  His argument is that some definitions of the word are vague on whether it’s simply fiction or if it works in non-fiction as well.

He’s in green with no name, I’m Snuff Film Sweetheart in bold, with purple text. I apologize completely for the train wreck of AIM text… it really just refuses to format properly.

someone asked me today if a novel had to be fiction

i was discribing nanowrimo to him

wikipedia seems to agree with me that the answer isnt completely certain, whats do you think?

Snuff Film Sweetheart

Merriam-Webster says it’s fiction.

Definition of NOVEL

: an invented prose narrative that is usually long and complex and deals especially with human experience through a usually connected sequence of events
I’ve always considered novel to be fiction.  It just seems weird to lump non-fiction into the ‘novel’ category.

does it? they call political commentators “novellists”

does that definition identify it as fiction?

i guess it depends on how you interpret the word invented

Snuff Film Sweetheart

I think the word invented is pretty straight forward.

cant a non-fiction book be an invention of the author?

Snuff Film Sweetheart

A non-fiction book would be derived through experience.

In the definition, they aren’t speaking of the physical product of a book being invented.  In that case, it would technically be applicable to a non-fiction work.

But the invention is the prose narrative.

The actual subject matter.

arent those two different things?

Snuff Film Sweetheart

The book and the narrative, or the narrative and the subject matter?

the narrative and the subject matter

Snuff Film Sweetheart

The narrative would be relaying the subject matter.

So, in this case, they tie together.

right, so in the case of non-fiction writing, the narrative is an original creation of the author

Snuff Film Sweetheart

But the subject matter isn’t invented.

It’s a recount of experience.


Snuff Film Sweetheart

The subject matter can exist independently of the narrative, but the narrative can’t exist independently of the subject matter.  It’s just a tool to relay that which as been experienced or fabricated.
I’m sorry, experienced/researched, to be technical

So I think in saying that the prose a non-ficton author puts on paper is considered his own invention is kind of stretching the definition of the term when used in the context Merriam-Webster has.

And it’s 3 am, so I could be off the mark and jaded by opinion


wikipedia defines narrative as fictional or non-fictional

Snuff Film Sweetheart

Narrative IS fictional or non-fictional.

But a novel is generally defined as a work of fiction.

but it’s a relevant opinion, and i think that’s the point, its an ongoing debate so no most sources won’t directly define the word novel as fictional or non-fictional

even nanowrimo is vague: “In short: If you believe you’re writing a novel, we believe you’re writing a novel too.”

but it also says they define it as fiction

Snuff Film Sweetheart

So that’s not vague at all. XD


i’m not convinced tho, it seems to me that fictional and non-fictional narratives have the same roots, going back to early 18th century romantic works

Snuff Film Sweetheart

Wikipedia also makes it pretty clear that modern use  of the word “novel” differs from more archaic usage.

If you read through the timeline, the word novel has grown into what’s mostly accepted as a means of encapsulating fiction.

that probably has a lot to do with the rising popularity of fiction

Snuff Film Sweetheart

Likely, but still valid.

yeah, it is


Filed under Writing