Why Fiction is Not My Forte

Writers generally enjoy writing the kind of writing they enjoy reading. I’ve always enjoyed reading nonfiction, particularly biographies, essays, opinion, vignettes and particularly slice-of-life stories. I like short stories as opposed to novels, as I tend to get restless and skip to the end of novels early to see how things turn out.

I have great admiration for writers of novels; it takes a talent for seeing the big picture, for character development that makes us care about the people in a story, for being able to formulate a believable plot with plausible dialogue, and it takes the ability to apply intense focus over the long period of time necessary to write a full-length book.

Many people feel they have a “book” in themselves just waiting to be written “one of these days.” Oftentimes, on hearing I’m a writer, people will approach me and tell me about the novel they intend to write, that sometimes feel they were born to write, and want to know how to get started. They assume that I’m writing a novel, too, and ask me about my work. I give them what suggestions I can, but I have to preface it by saying “Fiction is not my forte.” Sometimes I’ll see their expressions change, and likely my advice falls on deaf ears. But it doesn’t matter.

When I learned of the term, “creative nonfiction”, I knew I had found the genre that fit my work to a T, and vice versa. The best definition comes from Lee Gutkind, editor of Creative Nonfiction: “Although it sounds a bit affected and presumptuous, ‘creative nonfiction’ precisely describes what the form is all about. The word ‘creative’ refers simply to the use of literary craft in presenting nonfiction—that is, factually accurate prose about real people and events—in a compelling, vivid manner. To put it another way, creative nonfiction writers do not make things up; they make ideas and information that already exist more interesting and, often, more accessible.”

This is what I do. And I’m enjoying the journey.

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