Why Fiction Writing Means a Different Approach to Non-Fiction Writing

Why Fiction Writing Means a Different Approach to Non-Fiction Writing

futuristic fiction writing
What approaches do you take with futuristic fiction writing?

If you’ve ever dabbled in fiction writing, you know that it takes a different approach to non-fiction writing. I had a comment on the blog a few days ago about how sticking to a niche doesn’t apply to fiction writers.

And that is so true!

While you may have a genre that you prefer to write in, as a fiction writer you need to choose different types of storylines and push yourself out of your comfort zone.

You can’t wait for an assignment to come to you and it’s not as simple as laying out a plan for a 500 or 1000 word article. You need to see where the story takes you and keep writing when you get a few minutes.

Using Writing Prompts to Help Become Better at Fiction Writing

Writing prompts are great for fiction writing. It can be just a word, a phrase or even a picture. You then need to create a storyline around that prompt.

I regularly go out and watch the people around me. Not in a stalker way! I just like to make up a story for them. Just recently, I saw an old couple sitting in a coffee shop and I imagined them talking about their upcoming anniversary, their family and being proud of their grown up grandchildren.

Just across from the old couple was a young mum with a baby. The story of the husband away with the work and trying to juggle everything while waiting for him to return sprung to mind.

These simple starts could lead me into a bigger story, if I chose to write it. Sometimes I have fun but other times I let them sit. But I’m not generally a fiction writer. I prefer the non-fiction.

Just Writing Even If It Makes No Sense

Another tip for fiction writing is to just write. It doesn’t really matter if it makes sense or if it really has anything to do with the storyline, writing something will keep the mind working and the fingers typing.

This is often a tip used when dealing with writer’s block that just won’t go away. Writing anything is better than writing nothing at all. Eventually, the ideas will come and creativity takes over. People doing NaNoWriMo will often use this just to get to their 50,000 word total by the end of the month and will then worry about whether the story works.

This doesn’t really work for non-fiction writing. When writing facts, it takes a lot of time and research to plan everything out. You’re likely writing for money, which means time is of the essence. Writing anything and then finding that you have to edit it all out is not the greatest way to manage time.

Historical and Political Fiction

There are times that fiction and non-fiction join together. If you’ve read Philippa Gregory, you will know that she takes historical facts and turns them into a story. She uses the fact that Elizabeth Woodville’s mother was accused of witchcraft and creates a story of the family being witches. Some of it is based on fact but much of it is her imagination telling the story.

This takes a whole different approach. It requires the research needed for non-fiction but the creativeness and dedication of fiction writing. It requires the ability to take something, even relatively small, and turn it into a major story point; something relevant and gripping to the readers. Not all non-fiction writers have this skill. They simply tell the facts.

That’s not to say fiction writing doesn’t require research. There is always the need to research certain areas that the book is set and facts that surround something a character may do. It doesn’t have to be as accurate as non-fiction writing though since there is the element of fiction and make-believe in there.

Do you prefer non-fiction or fiction writing? I’d love to hear  your thoughts about the two. If you do both, do you take different approaches to get past writer’s block, deal with a stagnant plot or story or research facts?

Image credit: Victor Habbick/Freedigitalphotos.net

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Alexandria Ingham is a professional writer. She predominately ghost-writes in various niches, including fitness, finance and technology Everything is fully researched and well-written. Under her own name, she writes in the technology, business, history and weight loss niches

6 thoughts on “Why Fiction Writing Means a Different Approach to Non-Fiction Writing

  1. I recently took up the challenge of writing about something other than my ‘technical’ field and found the stimulus of being asked to write ‘prompted by’ something somehow releasing compared to ‘writing about’ something.
    Now I find myself often starting in fact and developing into fiction!

    1. Good for you! It must help your passion for writing too. I’ve often gotten ideas for fiction based on fact but for now they remain as ideas.

  2. I’m still working on my writing skills, feeding my beliefs that “I’m not a writer”. Being a big reader, I certainly admire the effort that goes into writing a really good fiction book. The twists and turns and character development ……….

    1. Don’t put yourself down or let your fear stop you! Reading is definitely great though. I love reading a good book with all the twists and turns. I often wonder how the mind of the author works to come up with such great ideas.

  3. I write non-fiction and poetry. Sometimes just writing anything helps with writer’s block, but mostly I just need to get my head out of it by going for a walk or a drive and then things flow again. I love your idea of using real people as writing prompts. I’ve done something similar for non-fiction writing – – seeing relevant lessons in things or people around me and then writing about that.

    1. I’m currently stuck on a piece of fiction that I’ve been dabbling in but taking a break from it isn’t working. I think I need to use my own advice and just write to try push past it! Usually the drive or walk does help though. Ah, yes, I’ve used it in a few non-fiction pieces although I usually use my own mistakes as examples of what not to do!

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