Fiction vs. Non-Fiction: Which do you write?
Fiction and non-fiction are two forms of literature that require different skill sets of writers. Primarily, fiction is made up from the imagination, or fictional writing. Non-fiction is fact based writing. While these forms reside on opposite writing spectrums, the well rounded writer should become skillful at blending the two forms.
The fiction writer
The fiction writer draws from the world around him or her to craft stories, but manipulates events and characters through the imagination. He or she also understands the conventions (reader expectations) of the fiction genre he or she is writing within, broadly defined here as: romance, mystery, horror, science fiction, fantasy, children/young adult, or literary (these are categorized differently in other discussions, and can include various sub-genres or combinations). For the fiction writer, the stories he or she writes are sold primarily on the basis of the story itself.
The non-fiction writer
A non-fiction writer must perform sound research to locate facts to place in his or her works. Many times, the non-fiction writer is considered an expert in his or her field, and readers rely on these writers to utilize verifiable and supported facts as the basis for their statements and arguments. Readers typically read non-fiction to be educated through the writer’s expertise. Much promotion of non-fiction works is selling the author as someone who is knowledgeable and trustworthy on certain subject matters.
Fiction writers should perform research during the course of their work, in order to craft realistic characters, settings, and plot lines, however, their stories are not based in strict facts. Many readers of fiction read these stories for entertainment, although fiction works can offer information and compelling commentary on social issues.
The versatile non-fiction writer should employ fiction writing techniques so that non-fiction readers can be entertained as well as educated when reading non-fiction works.