U3 Types of Short Stories

There are two types of stories in general: fiction and nonfiction. There are many subgenres of stories such as historical fiction, science fiction, biographies, autobiographies, and so forth. These are different from one another due to their topic or who is writing the story. However, they all fall within either the category of fiction or of nonfiction. 

Fiction a made-up story; a story that is not real
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • Harry Potter
  • The Gift of the Magi
  • To Build a Fire
  • The Tell-Tale Heart
Nonfiction a true story; a story about the facts of real life
  • Lifeboat No. 8: An Untold Tale of Love, Loss, and Surviving the Titanic
  • The Art of War
  • A Brief History of Time
  • Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
  • Alexander Hamilton


Fiction is a story that is not real. It is imaginary. It comes from ideas you create in your mind rather than truthfully telling real-world events. Fiction stories are stories you create using your imagination1.  

There are many genres of fiction. Some of these genres are mystery, crime thriller, romance, science fiction, fantasy2, horror, and historical fiction. Each genre has its own frequently appearing elements. For example, a crime thriller or mystery might include a detective, have clues, and feature a climax where the detective figures out who the criminal is. If a spaceship were to suddenly appear, the reader would be a little confused. Spaceships are usually part of science fiction rather than crime thrillers. It is possible to combine genres of fiction, but it would need to be done carefully so that the reader can still understand the story.

1. https://edtechbooks.org/-zEb 

2. https://edtechbooks.org/-zEb 

Exercise 3.13

Think of fictional genres you may be interested in writing in. What topics interest you? What do you daydream about? List 5 topics that you could write a fictional story about below.

1. __________

2. __________

3. __________

4. __________

5. __________


Nonfiction, also spelled non-fiction, is a true story. These are stories about real life. They may be stories about the past or the present. Usually, stories about the future are considered fiction because they are imagined. You may encounter nonfiction essays about possible events or trends in the future based on facts in the present. These are sometimes found in student academic essays. However, creative nonfiction tends to be more in the past or present with maybe some educated guesses at the future. 

Nonfiction also includes many genres such as biography, documentaries, self-help, true crime, science, and humor1. Each genre has its own rules and traditions that require or encourage you to use certain elements. For example, a biography is a factual story about another person's life, but an autobiography is a factual story about your own life. This may determine which pronouns you would use if you wrote the story: 3rd person "he", "she", or "it"  or 1st person "I". These genres can also be blended together. A true crime story may include information about forensic science. 

One of the most common forms of nonfiction short stories is the creative essay. This is an essay in that it reports factual information, but it is creative in that it does not follow the usual essay rules strictly. It also may be more contemplative or be about more abstract topics. 

1. https://edtechbooks.org/-zEb 

Exercise 3.14

Write a short one-page autobiographical story. Tell a story about a time that you grew as a person. When was a time that you became a better person than you were before? Use the 1st person pronoun, "I". 

Mixing Fiction and Nonfiction

There are some stories that seem to blend fiction and nonfiction. For example, a fictional short story may be based on real-life events but have a few imagined things added to in such as in historical fiction. Fiction and nonfiction may also be blended in semi-autobiographical writing where the story is based on the life of the author, but some things are changed or added using imagination. It is okay to combine fiction and nonfiction.

However, if you do combine them, you should be clear that you are combining them. Do not present fictional ideas as facts. If someone were reading a mostly true biography and did not know that you had added some imaginary details, they would feel upset because they would not know which details were real or not. They read the biography expecting real information, so they would think the author was being dishonest by including imaginary information. Therefore, if you do combine fiction and nonfiction, make sure the reader knows it. 

Exercise 3.15

Discuss the following questions with a group of 3-4 classmates.

1. What are the advantages of writing fiction?

2. What are the disadvantages of writing fiction?

3. What are the advantages of writing nonfiction?

4. What are the disadvantages of writing non-fiction?

5. Which of the two types of short stories are you most excited to try writing?

Exercise 3.16

Go to or think of a place of natural beauty in your area. Using that place as your inspiration write a 1-2 page short story. 

Write either a fictional short story or a non-fictional short story. 

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