Non-fiction 101: What is Non-fiction Writing?
There are many types of writing that represents the family of non-fiction writing including journalism, journals, diaries, documentaries, essays, academic compositions, academic textbooks, business and technical compositions, biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, historical compositions, user manuals, travel compositions, and reference compositions. Each type represent examples of non-fiction works.
There are two types of approaches to non-fiction writing. A writer can address the facts or a writer can address opinion about some facts. Often times, the writing may toggle somewhere between the two.
Non-fiction writing will usually include a character or characters, a plot, and setting. However, the elements are real accounts of each. The character narration is usually a biography or autobiography, which is call the subject. The subject presents the words, thoughts, actions and feelings.
Non-fiction writing addresses a purpose. There are many types of non-fiction wiring, each having a different purpose. For example, the purpose of a biography or newspaper is to inform, the purpose of an essay or memoir is to tell a story. The purpose of a user manual is to give direction. Each in their own way offer explanatory, descriptive, or narrative composition.
Non-fiction writing projects a tone. Although the information provided is intended to represent an account of factual events, regarding of person, place or thing. Each composition maintains a tone. For example, the writing will reflect some type of attitude toward the subject matter. The tone can be inspirational, persuasive, hopeful, negative, pessimistic, humorous or even comical. The tone can even be a combination of several tones, there are no limitations.
Non-fiction novels give accounts of actual events and people. Regardless of written dynamics for effect and interest, the information provided are claimed truths, facts, or real beliefs or ideas of others.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica Non-Fiction reference, the American writer Truman Capote claimed to have invented this genre with his book In Cold Blood (1965). The book is about a true story, based on six years of exacting research and interviews with neighbors, friends, and victims of two captured murderers. In the story, a Kansas farm family was brutally murdered and the narrative of the story is given from the points of view of different characters. Another example of this type of writing is the book Hiroshima (1946), which is an account of the World War II bombing of the Japanese city. The journalistic account is told through the histories of six survivors.
As you write, separate facts from fiction and opinion. Remember as the writer, you have the power to chose which facts to present, which can drive the direction of opinions and the final picture of the overall composition.
Know your purpose. Purpose is the reason for the writing or what you hope to accomplish with the writing. Think about the message or information you would like to share? What are the facts you intend to explain? What is the picture you want to present to the reader?
When writing be aware of your tone. Tone is the overall expression of the writer’s attitude and can easily change the nature of a composition from fact to fiction if tone is misused within the composition.