Writing Fiction and NonFiction

Writing fiction compared to writing nonfiction 

In essence, writing fiction and nonfiction form the backbone of prose writing. Writing fiction deals with nonfactual prose, involves the creation of a story from the author’s imagination and may refer to real-life events.

Writing fiction is not based on true stories despite having some elements of truth.

What does it take to write Fiction?
Having time on your hands and a creative mind are the major ingredients you need for writing fiction. Often, we come across fictional writing in stories written for entertainment purposes or for passing the author’s point of view. 

Different types of authors write fictional prose. For example, novelists specialise in writing novels, while playwrights specialise in writing screen players and drama. 

Writing Fiction
Writers of fiction create stories from their imagination. They can loosen up their imaginations to wander around until it is in full control to mould characters and to manoeuvre courses of events. 

It is important to keep it believable for the sake of your readers so that they see the characters as real. Some writers go to extremes in exaggerating inventions of new powers for their heroes and heroines. I would like to think that most readers will be put off by such writing style. 

Writing fiction covers various genres to include mysteries, science fiction, romance, fantasy and crime thrillers, among other genres. An example of classic fiction is the novel Pride and Prejudice written by Jane Austen.

The fiction category also carries a large selection of popular movies and television shows we can find on DVD. 

Writing Nonfiction
Writing non-fiction is all about writing real events that are factual instead of writing invented stories (fiction). Meaning, writing non-fiction texts depends on facts or opinions based on facts. 

Non-fiction writing can be writing books and producing videos that can fit into categories of varied scope.

  • Biographies
  • Business
  • Cooking
  • Languages
  • Travel
  • DVD and documentaries
  • Writing speeches
  • Writing leaflets
  • Writing musicals
  • Food writing
  • Writing real-life adventures
  • Writing reviews. Reviews come in different forms. For instance, writing album reviews, reviews for newspaper and magazine articles.
  • Writing reports.
  • Writing letters and guides.
  • Writing interviews
  • Writing travel articles
  • Writing memoirs
  • Science and business writing
  • Sports writing, art criticism
  • Writing history
  • Writing Humor. Humour is seldom discussed and a perpetually the underrated genre.

Writing news reports fall under the non-fiction category since writing news relies on fact-finding.

In the old days, news editors used to have a firm hold on screening to make sure only true and substantiated news stories were published. 

I doubt if this still applies in today’s modern-day social media outlets which are on the increase. The situation has been made worse by new competitors in news production. 

With the advent of Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp groups and the micro-blogging sites that has millions of followers including many journalists communicating via short bursts of text, the regulating of news reporting seem to have been compromised.

Writing an academic thesis or a dissertation fall in the category of writing non-fiction. Well written academic papers require an in-depth investigation of the subject to unearth authentic results. Research findings must be thoroughly examined and analyzed before a conclusion is reached. 

Where To Get Training?
Open University offers a fiction course in Creative Writing. The modules have a wide range of strategies to develop writers. Credits achieved count towards a diploma of higher education and a foundation degree.

The modules have more emphasis on practical exercises and activities to ignite and sustain the writing practice.

Training Modules

  • Using your memory and experience and building a daily discipline.
  • Demonstration and practising writing fiction, writing poetry, and life writing (biography and autobiography).
  • Taught how to prepare your work for publishing.

The Writer’s Bureau is one of the best trainers to look out for. It’s a one-stop provider where you can get both comprehensive home study courses in fiction and nonfiction genres.

The Writer’s Bureau teaches all the skills a writer needs to write a fiction novel that sells. 

What Is Included In The Course Modules

• Developing your writing style 
• Finding ideas 
• Preparing for a novel 
• Writing specialist fiction 
• Writing short stories and radio drama 
• Writing for TV and the theatre. 
• Selling your writing.

Sourced from writersbureau.com (2017).

Advice on Writing Well – Fiction or Non-Fiction
Writing well is key to becoming a successful writer in whatever genre you choose whether writing fiction or nonfiction.

Some authoritative writers have also shared the same opinion. For instance, William Zinsser (2016) has written a very good guide, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction, an outstanding guide for anyone who writes nonfiction.

Zinsser (2016) advises writers to use the principle of prose, adding that writers are at their most natural when they write in the first person. To be a good writer avoid clutter. This is the use of unnecessary words, circular constructions and meaningless jargon.

Zinsser (2016) believes the reason why writers use it is probably they want to sound important. But the secret to writing skillfully is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components.

  • Every word that serves no function
  • Every long word that could be short
  • Every adverb that carries the same meaning that’s already in the verb.
  • Every passive construction that leaves the reader unsure of who is doing what.

These are the thousand and one adulterants that weaken the strength of a sentence.

Clear thinking breeds clear writing and one can’t exist without the other. A muddy thinker can’t write good English. 

One gem principle of writing, ‘Never say anything in writing that you wouldn’t comfortably say in conversation. If you read your writing aloud and ask yourself whether you’d speak the way you have written, this is bound to improve your writing dramatically. 

Teddy Wayne (2013), has written 8 rules for writing fiction. He mentions the show, don’t tell. This is where you put your storytelling skills to good use. To be good at it, much focus should be on descriptions and not narrating events. 

Focusing on the character the author wants to paint a picture on is very important. It doesn’t matter the character is a robber or a cheating husband if in every paragraph the author tells the reader exactly how the character looks, will write good fiction.

Is the character tall, short? How he dresses and the type of lifestyle the character has? For example, Ben drives a flashy sports car.

Wayne (2013) also advises authors to write what they know best. Usually, authors write well when dealing with areas of their expertise. 

No tears for the writer, no tears for the reader rule. It means if you as the author are not moved by your story, don’t expect your readers to be moved. 

Revise, revise, revise – this rule speaks for itself. Revising your work always pays off.

As an author, you need to trust yourself and value your judgment to be able to write authoritatively.

Advantages and Disadvantages Of Writing Nonfiction Vs Writing Fiction

With nonfiction writing, you always have something to fall back on. History writers, for example, know they can check on fact-checkable topics. Even on a bad writing day, there is always something to spend time on, to find usable material.

Non-fiction writers cannot get away with writing just a few pages of prose but have to present arguments that are substantiated by evidence.

Moreover, fiction has a long shelf line than nonfiction. Fiction can be read over and over again for generations, unlike nonfiction which becomes too soon outdated.


  • Zinsser, W. ‘On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction, Paperback – May 9, 2006. 

If you have any questions related to Writing Fiction and NonFiction, please feel free to leave them below. I will come back to you with responses as soon as I can.


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8 Comments to “Writing Fiction and NonFiction”

  1. teachexplorerun says:

    Teaching fiction writing is so much easier than teaching skills to produce well-written nonfiction writing. Student finds realistic fiction the hardest to write because you are brought back to the confines of what actually could happen. I find the more limits you put on people while they write the harder it is.

    A parent tried to inform me that I should be giving his son more ideas to write. But writing is not about completing a story. Although this is the focus at school. It is all about the process to get the story out and written or typed. It is the process that matters all the time. Maybe writing fiction, you find the process more enjoyable and are therefore more success at it.

    1. Femia says:

      Hi, there, thanks so much for leaving some invaluable feedback that gives insight into the other side of fiction writing. I’m really impressed with your sincere comment that when it comes to writing, its the process to get the story out there that matters.

  2. Carthik says:

    Thanks for sharing this info, clearly describing the two categories of Writing – Fiction and Non-Fiction. I, generally look to read Non-Fiction articles, which are based on truth and facts. Having said that, it’s not that I do not read or watch fiction movies. However, it would be a rare case unless I hear some exceptional review on the fiction articles.
    Look forward to reading non-fiction articles from you.

    1. Femia says:

      Thank you so much for leaving a comment. Please keep checking as I will be writing non-fiction articles more often.

  3. Jen says:

    Only true and substantiated news stories see the light of day…….Actually this is what is supposed to happen but not always what does. Interesting to see that you love writing. Curious as to what you love writing about and what you see yourself writing about this next year. Do you love daily news stories, informational about certain topics, or life experience- or all of the above?

    1. Femia says:

      Hi, Jen, thanks so much for your comment. I’m interested in daily news stories. I once worked as a news sub editor. So, I have some background information around news stories. I also enjoy reading journal articles around social issues. I did some research recently and I am working on getting some of my chapters published in journals.

  4. Jim says:

    I can remember a class on non-fiction writing I had in college.

    Some of the best advice my teacher gave was to use all five senses even when writing non-fiction. She also said to set the stage as you would in a novel by describing the scene, the surroundings, and the characters…but, factually.

    I tried my best but, I found writing fiction was much easier because, I tended to use my imagination too much and wanted to adlib with off the cuff remarks that really had no place in non-fiction writing.

    But, I still would like hone my non-fiction writing skills and I look forward to following your website for tips and tricks that will help me accomplish my goal.


    1. Femia says:

      Hi, Jim, I feel so humbled that you have taken your time to leave some invaluable feedback. Thank you so much. I will remember to use the Five-senses approach. It covers all angles. Brilliant advice! All the best.

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