Friday, December 2, 2011

Fiction verses Non-Fiction-A Guest Post

Carl Douglas, Author of The Baltimore Principles, shares his view on Fiction vs non Fiction.



Regardless of whether one writes fiction or non-fiction, an author can only write about what he or she knows. I discovered that the best writers are those who have done the best research. Take for example my good friend Luanne Rice, a novelist who has written a couple dozen best-sellers. I know for a fact she does tons of research for each of her fictions. This is what puts life into her fictional characters and settings. Non-fictions are true stories but the authors can only write what they can prove as fact. They don't have an artistic license to insert little goodies to make a story more exciting. I can tell you it's hard to make any person or event exciting when little had been documented.

All writers need to be good story tellers and have a way with words. Beyond a doubt, fictions are far more entertaining than non-fictions and do inspire the reader's imagination. Fictions are also educational and reading them is the best method for developing ones vocabulary.

We non-fiction writers don't tell stories but rather re-tell stories. While our works aren't as entertaining, our stuff is definitely more educational. We have to be careful not to get too cute with our words or else a simple statement can lose its true meaning or context. This can be tough because what writer wants to be boring? However, I find because most of my readers are searching for the truth they appreciate getting "just the facts" without any wordy distortions or distractions. As a researcher, I too, am a big fan of "straight to the point" documentation.

What's funny is that good fiction writers have to read a ton of non-fictions for their research while good non-fiction writers have to read a bunch of fictions to improve their writing skills. Who would have thunk?

In a way, non-fiction writers are teachers. I believe we have to explain why something is important to learn. This goes back to my high school days as we students would ask, "Why do we need to learn this?" I'm sorry to say that most of my teachers really couldn't tell us. With that said, I always try to answer this question with all my works.

Writing THE BALTIMORE PRINCIPLES proved extra challenging. I wrote several drafts but just could not make the history flow nor keep my editor's interest. Frustrated, I tossed everything and tried a different style. I wrote it as if I was telling my best friend about something really cool I had recently discovered. My editor loved it and, thus far, everyone else has too.
The Baltimore Principles

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1 comment:

Paul Arnett said...

Author Carl Douglas and our staff at the Arnett Institute (the publishers) will be checking this site regularly over next the few weeks, so if anyone would like to ask some questions, we will be happy to respond.