I swing both ways, but before you swear you will never sit next to me again, let me explain. I write fiction and non-fiction. And, I can write fictional non-fiction, but I haven't cleaned up my autobiography yet so I haven't had to nudge the truth too much yet.
There are some obvious differences: romance writers have to make up characters. Non-fiction writers and journalists don't. Trust me, there are more than enough characters out there to keep us pounding the keys. Both fiction and non-fiction call for precise research, because as sure as she gets the guy in the end, some turkey in Readerland will know exactly how many days Alphonse the Dumb reigned or exactly how many people in Japan are more than 100 years old, or, for that matter, who killed Cock Robin.
Romance stories start out quietly and end with a rousing romp in bed. Non-fiction starts at the end and every paragraph from there on is less important than the one before so that the editor can cut your would-have-won-a-Pulitzer story if the jerk had left it alone. For example: in fiction, we get two or three pages in before we realize Scarlett is NOT a nice girl. It ends with Rhett Butler leaving her. In non-fiction, say for The National Enquiror, the opening paragraph would start at the end. "Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara have parted ways! Our columnist heard Rhett say "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn!" Those in the know realize this is not the end of the story....
Contests in fiction writing are not yet published but you hope to *** they will be. In non-fiction writing, the story must be published before you have a hope in ***.
Some non-fiction writers 'enhance' their stories by not letting truth get in the way of a good story. Fiction writers haven't a truth to fly by. They are expected to enhance the whole thing.
Some non-fiction writers fear rejection because they were self consious to begin with, but as reporters, they definitely won't be rejected. They are expected to fill the blank spaces between ads or else.
Speaking of rejection, here are some questions about fiction that have non-fiction answers that should make you either feel terrific or make you tape your mail box shut rather than face it.
1. Eight publishers said no to J.K. Rawlings first book. What was the British title?
2. TheMysterious Affair at Styles, this author's first book was rejected by six publishers, but she went on to write 70 plus novels. Who was she?
3. And To Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street was passed up by 28 publishers before it became a childrens classic. Who was thew author?
4. What Frederick Forsyth novel was passed up by nearly 50 publishers before it became a best seller?
5. A book by Robert W. Pirsig was rejected 121 times before it became a big best seller in 1974. What was the book? (You have to love that guy).
6. This book, Tom Clancey's first, was turned down by more than two dozen publishers before it became a huge best seller. What book was it?
7. The author of The Thomas Berryman Number, which was rejected by 26 publishers, has since become one of the world's best-selling authors?
The answers will appear in the comments section.
Have you tried writing non-fiction? Have you tried freelancing (which pays quite well actually)? Do you feel better now? Hope so.
The easy way to avoid rejection is to never submit a manuscript. Clearly, all publishers don't know a good thing when they see it.