I have seen two similar terms, historical fiction and creative non-fiction. I'm writing some stories that are set during a real time in history, that might mention real events, real people, but that have fictional main characters and a fictional sequence of events within that setting. Or some stories that are about a real historical person and real time, but the dialogue and actual details that must be filled in are made-up to create a fuller story.

Are these two different names of the same thing or completely different?

1 Answer 1


Creative non-fiction recounts factually-accurate narratives in a literary style. It reads like a story, but it is in fact real history. It will be severely criticised for containing factual inaccuracies, let alone fictional main characters. (wiki)

Historical fiction, on the other hand, is fiction, set in some specific period in the past. The period and its events play a part in the story, but the main characters or their actions are ultimately fictional. Ivanhoe and The Three Musketeers are famous examples. (wiki)

Since your main characters are fictional, what you're writing is historical fiction.

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    Example of creative non-fiction: Apollo 13 (which does contain a few factual inaccuracies, but for the most part it sticks pretty close to historical fact).
    – Kevin
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 15:22
  • What if you recount factually accurate historic events from the perspective of a main character who is fictional but could plausibly have been present at these events, yet weren't named in any historic records because they themselves were too insignificant? Like a maid at the court of Henry VIII or a prison guard at the Bastille during the French revolution? If such a character would recount those events as accurate as historically possible, wouldn't it also be creative non-fiction?
    – Philipp
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 15:52
  • @Philipp That sounds like "literary style".
    – Barmar
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 16:00
  • This gets a little confusing - looks like "fictionalization" process would produce "creative non-fiction"?
    – Alexander
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 17:42

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