All writing is creative, regardless of the subject matter. However there are different skills involved in the writing process, depending on what sort of writing you are completing and on what genre of writing you are completing. Writing a romance manuscript does for example require you to use different skills in terms of description, characterisation and connection with the audience than would be needed if you were writing say a non-fiction article on how cameras work. Many writers can write for a number of genres and can write both fiction and non-fiction pieces of work. However most have a preference and will generally classify themselves as a fiction writer or a non-fiction writer.
A fiction writer is someone who writes short stories, story books, novellas and even small snippets of prose that are all ‘made up’ – they aren’t based on fact. They may include factual elements in the writing; for example a true location may be used, a certain time period may be the preface for the story or indeed one or even two of the characters may be based on real individuals, but the overall storyline should be just that – a story – something that is removed from the truth and in science fiction and horror writing, it can can even be removed from reality.
A non-fiction writer is someone who writes articles, factual books and journalistic pieces. Their writing is based on fact, not on fiction. It may be an informative piece of writing, that helps the reader do something in a better way. An article titled, ‘How to make a beehive’ would fall into this category. It may however be a piece of writing that helps move knowledge from the writer to the read. A book entitled, ‘A beginners guide to flower arranging’ would for example fall into this category. Journalistic writing is also classified as non-fiction. Journalists tend to provide information on current affairs, but in a way that conveys their own personal point of view on the subject.
So, subject matter tends to help draw the distinction between non-fiction and fiction writing. But there are other differences which tend to be based on the type of writing skills that need to be applied to each writing form. For example, the way in which the writer engages with the reader will differ. In non-fiction writing the writer can be quite direct in the way that he addresses the reader; he can make his own voice heard. In fiction writing however there is either a lead character narrating the story and engaging with the reader or there is a dedicated story narrator. In either case, the writer’s own voice isn’t used. Similarly the complexity of the writing structure will differ in non-fiction and fiction writing. Non-fiction writing needs to lead the reader logically around a subject matter in an undisturbed way and in a way that they can easily follow. Fiction writing however can and should be full of twists and turns, with conflicting storylines coming and going, and a host of secondary characters introduced into the mix for good measure!
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