What Are the Elements of Nonfiction?

The elements of nonfiction are point of view, character development, narrative and dramatization. Authors of nonfiction works often use the same basic elements as fiction authors to tell a compelling story.

In nonfiction, a point of view is necessary to tell the story. Memoirs and autobiographies are told in first person point of view. Most biographies are told in third person by someone who is relating the information he has gathered about the story. Instruction manuals, how-to guides and self-help books are usually written in second person.

Every story has characters, but in nonfiction, these characters are real people. In order to make the work relatable or empathetic, nonfiction authors often follow the same conventions as fiction authors and develop characters that catch the reader’s attention. The author describes physical descriptions, personality traits and detailed histories to give the characters depth and relatability.

Nonfiction writing usually follows a time line for a narrative that is either linear or nonlinear, depending on how the author tells the story. Authors can chose to tell a history from start to finish or jump from one time to another to create parallels to other characters or events. The author carefully chooses a narrative to enhance any dramatization. In most nonfiction, the story told focuses on a central conflict or theme that defines the purpose of the work.