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  • Writer's pictureEugenia Sestini

To Fiction or Not To Fiction?

Updated: Sep 26, 2019

It’s good to see you again! I hope your children managed to do some writing, or maybe they are warming up to it.

Last week, I included two story starters, one for fiction, one for non-fiction, as well as a picture. These prompts are there for those who need a little something to get started, but if you don’t want to use them, that is great too. Everyone has their own process.

Also, I put them down under one label, but if you find that the sentence in the non-fiction post gives you an idea for a fictional story, go for it!

So what is fiction and what isn’t?

I’ve written down two sentences to show you the difference between fiction and non-fiction:

A – I love to get up early.

B – I love to travel.

Because I wrote these two, I can tell you than A is fiction, and B is non-fiction.

A is made up – I actually hit the snooze button once or twice every day, three if the weather is really bad. And B is something you can find me saying often.

Some children feel comfortable writing both fiction and non-fiction, whereas others show a preference for one.

How Does a Lighthouse Work? (Non-fiction) and I Want My Banana (Fiction)


When we say fiction, some children feel the need to include a unicorn in the story, but we don’t need magical creatures for a story to be fictional – anything that you make up is fiction.

Some children write fiction that relies heavily on their own personal stories – the main character is the same age and gender as the writer, lives in the same town, but has a different name and goes on adventures the writer has never been.

The truth is lots of writers, even grown-up, published writers, rely a lot on their own real, non-fictional lives to create fiction. This is partly because we are comfortable in this area, we are experts in our own lives, and can use some elements to kick-start a story.

While some children (and adults) rely on a couple of facts about themselves to get started, they let their imagination take over and finish the story.

Fiction comes in many forms. Some children prefer to write short stories; they like to spend time coming up with characters’ names or describing a fantastic setting in detail. Some enjoy creating comic books; they combine fictional stories with their own illustrations, and this format allows them to draw and write, letting the pictures tell part of the story. Some like to tell stories through songs and poems.


Non-fiction holds the imagination back and relies on facts – think of a history book, a science magazine, a biography, a manual to use a remote-control car. Journals and diaries are very popular tools to create non-fiction, they help people reflect on their day or to keep track of things that happen in their own lives.

You can still write non-fiction creatively, finding different ways of presenting the same idea, or showing facts from a unique point of view.

And there are grey areas, for example, some fictional books include historical characters, but we will talk about this in detail later.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore fiction and non-fiction through a variety of exercises, so that your child can see that writing can take many forms. Hopefully these exercises will inspire them!

In the meantime, if your child usually prefers one kind of writing, why not ask your little writer to try something new this week?

Note: If you're curious about lighthouses, check out How Does a Lighthouse Work?, or to read about a hungry monkey in English & French, check out I Want My Banana

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