Differences Between Writing Fiction and Non-Fiction

fiction-vs-non-fictionMost people understand the difference between fiction and non-fiction. Fiction is a story that has been made up by the creator of the book or document. It’s not real, although parts of it may be based upon real events or people. Non-fiction is more of a fact based approach. These kinds of books are typically meant to educate someone on a concept or process.

When writing fiction or non-fiction, obviously the approaches are quite different. With fiction, the writer must come up with a plot for the characters and an outline of the story. There are certain ways to write fiction that get people drawn into the story and leave them wanting more. Good storytellers are able to weave fiction together in a way that takes the reader on a journey.

With non-fiction, the writer will most likely create an outline of points that they want to cover. Some writers even plot out all of the chapter names so that they don’t miss anything. Then, they go through a research process in order to find content about all the different topics. Non-fiction books are very fact-based, so they require a lot of research in most cases. Of course, if the writer has a lot of experience in the area, they won’t need to research quite as much.

This isn’t to say that fiction doesn’t also require research. If a fiction writer is writing about a particular area of the country or a historical time period, they will likely also have to do some research to make sure that the book is believable to their readers.

The differences in style between fiction and non-fiction blur a bit with certain types of narrative non-fiction. Many biographies and other historical non-fiction have many of the elements of novels and may read like novels. Of course, the writer should not take liberties with the facts when writing non-fiction. With fiction, the writer can create the plot they desire and even create their own worlds.

Many times, fiction books are longer than non-fiction, although that is not always the case. There is plenty of room in the fiction marketplace for short stories, children’s books and other shorter pieces of content. Non-fiction books may also be long depending upon the topic at hand.

For the vast majority of writers, fiction books take a bit longer to produce. This is because there is a lot of plotting and creating that must take place. Often, fiction writers have to be motivated in a different way to want to write as they are creating the story from scratch. Non-fiction books may be easier just because they are fact-based and easily researched. Of course, these are generalities, so there is really no way to say for sure which one is easier. A lot of that depends on the writer, their interests and their skill level.

Although some writers choose to write only fiction or only non-fiction, many writers move easily between the two types of writing. Whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction, your writing needs to be strong enough to draw people into the narrative and keep them interested.