Heather has a Bachelor's Degree in English from Moravian College and has been freelance writing for more than 13 years.
There's a fine line between fiction and non-fiction in reading and writing it. Stories needing to be told regardless of the subject. Sometimes facts are thrown by the wayside to better sell a story. Occasionally, a writer can get away with doing that, but there are usually more questions left unanswered due to those missing facts. You need to understand how to balance the truth and telling the story to your best possible ability.
When it comes to writing, the only difference between fiction and non-fiction is the subject matter. All writers have to focus on research and get the details just right in order to make the story work. For fiction, the story is the focal point while the facts are only supporting material to back up everything you write as a writer. Fiction allows you to open up your locked idea box and gives you the opportunity to let your dreams explode all over the blank computer screen, or typewriter depending on your personal writing utensil. All writers need to find the best avenue to find a creative outlet to prominently display their work for either professional fulfillment or personal enjoyment. Let you be the judge of how your writing style goes: truth or fantasy.
As a writer, I like to explore all different writing mediums to learn what best suits and what to forget completely. My personal preference is fiction writing because I can tell my stories best without directly indicating if it's about me or not. I like to avoid including myself in the mix as little as possible because it makes me more interesting if I stray from the complete truth somewhat. My personality and life experiences handle a stronger amount of grit that I sometimes lack. I also prefer to write poetry whenever I'm feeling angry or sad because it's much more potent that way. I had a poetry teacher once praise me for getting the emotion right in my poems the best of his students which I appreciated. Since then, my poetry is almost a story format in itself. I get to tell the story with a limited amount of material as I possibly can. It's a great challenge to be able to spin fact and fiction to my advantage.
On the subject of non-fiction, I don't like what the end results always ends up being: overly forced. I try way too hard to be accurate about the history of a particular political or social figure and it leads to writing disaster. When I edit my non-fiction material my eyes start to glaze over and time passes by with me snoring. Some writers can handle non-fiction with the same aplomb as fiction, but I'm not one of them. The difference between Danielle Steel and David McCollough lies between factual style. McCullough illustrates the layers of John and Abigail Adams, while Steel shows her characters have dramatic complications. A little typical but still there regardless. McCullough's attention to detail worked so well that his work will continue on in other historical books he plans to write. Steel, on the other hand, will always find success in the fiction genre because her readers turn to her books as a form of escape not education. Writers like McCullough and Steel will always have success because each has what readers are looking for when they're in the mood to read.
In the end, you need to decide whether you stick to the facts or your stylized version of them. Format your material into the best story ever told and you could excel in a fiction, or non-fiction, writing career. The choice is yours.
De Greek from UK on February 24, 2010:
Some of my short stories appear to give pleasure and to make people smile and I so much want to write a book length story. However, all my short stories are based on personal experiences and I cannot "make up" a story to save my life ... :-)) No imagination at all... :-)) Do I hear you say "stick to short stories" or have you an ingenious solution? :-)))