Similarities between writing fiction and non-fiction

There are fiction writers. There are non-fiction writers. And there are those (like me) who write fiction and non-fiction. Sure there are different approaches to the writing, depending on the type, but there are also a few similarities between the two for publication. If you write one type and have been hesitant to try the other, maybe this will help get you over the hurdle.

For both types of writing you need to:clip art of blank lined writing pad

Know your target audience – use terms and examples (words and scenes) applicable to the reader. If your topic is apple groves, the focus on it in a A YA mystery will be different from the focus in a how-to book. The details aren’t any less relevant, just presented in a different manner.

Remember the purpose –  build paragraphs around the point you are writing about. In non-fiction (article, essay, memoir, report, and so on), you need to support the subject, main point, thesis, or the event that is the reason for writing. In fiction, this translates to main goal of the protagonist and all paragraphs leading to the climax need to support that goal.

Stay within the guidelines – no matter what type of writing you do and no matter where you submit, you will need to follow word count limits, page formatting guides, and maybe even point of view limitations, among others.

Make it matter to your readers – this brings us full circle. You need to know your audience and you want them to care about what you’re saying. Every word matters in keeping the reader engaged and moving forward. The reader needs a reason to keep reading.  Keep the writing active and logical. Avoid long, passive, and meandering sentences.

As writers, our goal is to connect with an audience. It doesn’t matter the genre or category of writing, we do have the same ultimate goal. Right?

Can you think of other similarities?

Lisa Jackson is an editor, writer, and chocolate lover. She’s addicted to Sudoku, cafés, and words. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has a blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom where she gets to network with writing professionals on a weekly basis — and you can, too! © Lisa J. Jackson, 2010

6 thoughts on “Similarities between writing fiction and non-fiction

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Similarities between writing fiction and non-fiction « Live to Write – Write to Live --

  2. “Avoid long, passive, and meandering sentences.” Good to see you mention this. As a technical editor, I stress active verb use. But what company or government entity wants to use attribution? “We made a mistake”? Not likely to see that.

    I do feel happy (when not banging my head on the keyboard) to see your ‘Subscribe by Email’ option. Thank you. Now that I’ve found this site, I don’t want to misplace it!

    Cheers from Alaska,

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