10 Things Writing Fiction Has Taught Me About Non-Fiction
And why fiction writers should write non-fiction
I love writing fiction. I love to write short stories, plays and novels.
I used to say I could never write non-fiction. It was boring. It lacked depth and imagination. But in the past two years, I’ve been writing non-fiction. And I’ve learned fiction writing has a significant part to play in writing non-fiction.
Here are 10 things I’ve learned from writing fiction:
- See things from the perspective of your audience. When you write fiction, you get lost in your characters. They become an extension of you. Lose yourself in your audience. Your message will resonate more with them.
- Bleed into your writing. Ernest Hemingway once said, “there is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed”. Would you want to read the words of a writer who didn’t bleed into his writing? No. You would want to read from a writer who poured himself into his writing. Without this, the writing sounds scripted. If you are not going to bleed, what’s the point in writing?
- Fall in love with the art of writing. Fiction is fascinating. You lose yourself in the characters, the story, the plot. You love the way your mind works and how you feel after writing.
- Express yourself clearly. You learn to describe things in a way that makes your audience understand you. For example, instead of saying “the girl is tall and beautiful”, you say, “the girl is five feet, four inches tall. She has black hair with ebony skin and an angular shaped face”. Your audience can picture the girl better this way.
- Walk away from your writing for a day or two. Writing fiction is beautiful but it can also be exhausting. The characters suck you in and you need fresh air. When you return to your writing, you are energized and have fresh and brilliant ideas.
- See the world as it is but in a beautiful way. You are able to describe the world to your audience. They see it through your eyes.
- Develop a plot for your story. What’s your story based on? What’s the premise? Who are the important characters in your story? What situation do they find themselves in? How do they overcome the situation?
- Infuse stories into your writing. Stories are a very powerful way to pass your message across to your readers. They can relate easily with your stories.
- Discover yourself. You discover characters you never realized lived within you. This shines through in your writing and helps you connect with your readers. You improve your relationship with them.
- Learn more about life. You get to know other people more as you delve into your characters. This helps you to understand people and stay relevant to your audience.
To non-fiction writers, write fiction.
If you’re a fiction writer, write non-fiction.
Non-fiction teaches you how to write in a powerful and intense way. You don’t have characters to lean on like you have in fiction. You only have yourself and your words. You learn to improvise and draw people in with your words.
You also learn to infuse lessons into your writing. Sometimes, in writing only fiction, you focus on the story but you don’t think of the lessons your readers need.
Writing non-fiction teaches you to pay attention to the lessons which makes you valuable to your readers. If you can entertain and also leave your reader speechless from learning valuable lessons in an intense and powerful way, you are the most powerful fiction writer ever.
One writer that does this so well is Ted Dekker. I never read his novels without coming away with a lesson that cuts right to my soul.
Write fiction and non-fiction. Don’t stay stuck with either. It’s an amazing combination when you publish both.
At The Writing Cooperative, our mission is to help each other write better. We’ve teamed up with ProWritingAid to do just that. Try it for free!