Reading Nonfiction Study Guide: GED Language Arts, Reading
Practice questions for this study guide can be found at:
Reading nonfiction will use many of the skills you developed in the last chapter on reading fiction—but there are two important differences between fiction and nonfiction. First, nonfiction is not fictional—that is, it purports to be a factual and accurate recounting of actual events involving real people and places. Note that we say it purports to be true—in other words, nonfiction writing claims to be true. This will be a very important distinction to understand in some areas of nonfiction. Nonfiction writing addresses real issues and people and events—but it may also be presenting a matter of opinion rather than simply stating a string of facts. We will discuss this more fully as we go along.
Second, nonfiction does not use a narrator in the way that fiction does. You'll remember that some fiction might be told by a first-person narrator referred to in the text as I and me. In nonfiction, however, the words are directly those of the author, not of some fictional narrator who is created for storytelling purposes.
This is an important distinction as you move from fiction into nonfiction. Keep in mind that in fiction, an author might use a narrator to say things that are directly contrary to what the author believes.
This is generally not the case in nonfiction, however. In this sense, reading nonfiction is more straightforward and less complicated than reading fiction. The exception to this, of course, is when an author uses irony to make a point, saying the opposite of what he or she means in order to underscore a point. We will discuss this further in this chapter.
There are countless types of nonfiction writing. Every time you send an e-mail or jot a note for someone, you are writing nonfiction. If you write a memo or fill out a report at your job, you are writing nonfiction. There are as many types and styles of nonfiction writing as there are people and careers in the world. But, for purposes of preparing for the GED, we will divide nonfiction literature into three broad categories: informational nonfiction, literary nonfiction, and visual communication.
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