Not muddying, clarifying: towards understanding the boundaries between fiction and nonfiction

Matthew Ricketson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Debates about the relationship between fiction and nonfiction are complex but remain critical to the field of book-length journalism, which is grounded in the practice of representing in words actual people, events and issues. These debates have been flavoured by the conflating of various concepts, which has the effect of muddying rather than clarifying the field. A review of relevant scholarship in narrative and journalism studies shows how some scholars conflate notions of narrative with fiction, of fiction with literariness, and of fiction with nonfiction. An examination of the historical development of journalism provides three points relevant to a better working understanding of the relationship between fact and fiction: first, the hard news report has never been the sole form in which news has been presented; second, a range of modes of writing usually associated with fiction are not the sole province of fiction, and third, the use of the word fiction in the term ‘fictional techniques’ to describe book-length journalism and literary nonfiction sends a misleading message to practitioners, critics and readers alike.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-13
    Number of pages13
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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