Fact vs. Fiction: What is the difference?

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Difference between Fact and Fiction

Fact and fiction are opposites. Facts are things that are true, while fiction is an imaginative and untrue creation. However, it can be difficult to determine whether a certain piece of information is fact or fiction, particularly when the author or creator has blended fact and fiction, or attempted to hide the truth about their work.



A fact is a true piece of information. Ideally, it should have been verified in some way. A scientific fact has usually been verified through experimentation by more than one scientist. A historic fact may have been verified through multiple historic sources or through an archaeological investigation. Sometimes, a fact that has been believed to be true may be revealed to be false. As long as something is believed to be true, it is assumed to be factual, even though it may later prove to be false.

Fiction is not intended to be taken as true. It is an imaginative creation that may involve the description of characters, places and events that do not exist. Fiction can often be realistic and it may incorporate factual information, but it has been invented rather than discovered. The creator is aware that their fiction is their own creation, although this may not be so clear to their audience.

The opposite of fiction is non-fiction, which is a type of text, film or other medium that is fact based.

Common Forms

Factual information may be presented in a scientific report or an academic journal. It can also appear in film documentaries, newspaper and magazine articles and non-fiction texts such as histories, biographies, textbooks and encyclopedias.

Fiction often appears in forms that have been designed for the purpose of entertainment. Poems, novels, play, television programs and films are all common forms of fiction.

Facts and fiction can also appear in everyday conversation. People may make factual statements, tell each other interesting facts that they have learned or share information. However, people can also tell jokes and stories, and children often engage in imaginative or fictional play.

Combinations of Fact and Fiction

Fact and fiction is often combined. Some elements of fiction may be used in order to make a factual narrative more interesting, for example. Biographies may contain snippets of conversation that supposedly occurred many years before the text was written. The author has invented this fictional conversation based on their memories or assumptions about what was said in the past.

Fictional works can also incorporate facts. Historical fiction, for example, may use facts about the past in order to create a realistic setting for their fictional narrative, even incorporating some historical figures or events into their story. Realistic fiction can also appear almost factual, although the characters that are portrayed have been imagined by the creator. Fantasy fiction, in which entire fictional worlds have been created, is one of the forms of fiction that is most easily recognizable as such.

In some cases, it can be very difficult to separate fact from fiction. Many fictional novels set out to convince the reader that they are true accounts, for example. This is very common in early novels, which are often described as histories or biographies. Modern novels can also employ similar techniques and there have even been some controversial cases in which authors have sold fictional stories as biographies.

Similarities and Differences

  • Fact and fiction are often thought of as being clearly defined and separate entities.
  • Facts are believed to be true and based on reason, while fiction is known to be false and is based on the imagination.
  • It can actually be difficult to determine where fact ends and fiction begins.
  • A fact can be proved false, while a work of fiction may incorporate facts or even be presented as fact.
  • Fact is true.
  • Fiction is imaginary.
  • The line between fact and fiction can often be blurred.
  • A work of fiction may very well present an unproven truth.

Which one makes for a better book?
  • Fact
  • Fiction

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