Non-fiction is simply the imparting of information that is not made up. It covers many different genres of writing and storytelling, and has been in existence since people first began sharing what they knew.
Non-Fiction in History
Early cave paintings tell stories of important events in the lives of the tribe, and primitive songs and myths were shared for the purpose of uniting a community. When writing was developed, non-fiction came to include legal documents, business contracts, royal proclamations, sacred scriptures and even things as mundane as shopping lists. When printed works became widely available, sacred writings and household guides were among the non-fiction works that people began to acquire. In the 21st century, non-fiction works fill the shelves of bookstores and libraries, as well as electronic sources such as the Internet and television.
There are hundreds of genres and subgenres of non-fiction books. Some of these include textbooks, history with its many subgenres, art, true crime, essays, self-help, relationships, travel, local interest, how-to books, biographies and autobiographies.
Non-Fiction in Other Media
Not all non-fiction is contained in books. Documentaries are non-fiction in film. Journalism is non-fiction in newspapers or magazines. Depositions are the telling of a story as recorded in legal documents. Parents pass down family stories verbally to children. Speeches are verbal non-fiction. The internet is filled with articles and commentary.
What is Creatve Non-Fiction?
Creative non-fiction is a fairly recent movement that seeks to apply the story-telling skill once seen more often in fiction to non-fiction. For example, a historical work can be much more than just names and dates; it can include tension, mystery, dialogue, emotion and relationships--all the things that makes fiction interesting to read or watch. It is also known as literary non-fiction. An example of creative non-fiction is the book Queen Bees and Wannabes, by Rosalind Wiseman, which was made into the movie "Mean Girls" in 2004.
What Readers Expect from Non-Fiction
The chief difference is that people expect what they read, hear, or watch in non-fiction to be true. To that end, non-fiction, of whatever medium, should be accurate, well researched and reliable. People expect to be able to trust and use the information imparted through non-fiction media, so no part of it should be made up.