Fiction & Non-Fiction

Just utter randomness. About two years ago, in a Creative Non-Fiction Writing class, our professor asked a very simple question. Is it easier to write fiction or non-fiction? Every single one of my classmates said it’s easier to write fiction – and I thought, bullshit. Not because of their opinion about it, but because I know these people well enough that none of them has even attempted to write a novel, fiction or not.

Their reasoning was very basic. Writing fiction is easier, because “you just make up the things as you go along”. I can’t speak for other writers, but for myself, I was taken aback and quite offended by this. When first drafts are finished, a writer goes over it again to work all the rough edges, loose floorboards, the holey roof, and all that with a touch of wax to make everything sparkle so much you would go blind. This process is repeated up to seven times – I’ve heard others had taken more than that.

Oh, wait. I think I’ve derailed a bit. Too lazy to hit backspace. Anyway, when writing fiction, there is a very good chance of asking certain questions like, “is my pacing too fast or too slow?”, “are my characters believable?”, “is this scene even possible?”, “how many billions I’m gonna make?“, and other stuff like that. If fantasy or sci-fi, worldbuilding is inevitable, and things that must be considered are culture, magic, technology, and overall uniqueness to separate it from all the other SF/F archetypes (when fantasy is said, Tolkien is almost immediately in the mind. If SF, uh, Frank Herbert? Someone please correct me). This is by no means, easy. And it is sometimes staggering.

In short, there are a lot of things one has to consider while writing their fiction. In non-fiction, those things are greatly reduced, but are instead, replaced with massive research. You will still need to research when writing complete fiction, but not as much as non-fiction.

To misquote my professor, non-fiction is a story with fiction elements. By that – the hardest part, is about writing it. Just because it’s non-fiction, should the writing be kept florid and tight or flowery? Personally, it doesn’t matter, it should just be written however the writer intended it to be and make it awesome.

Non-fiction is equally time-consuming with fiction because of all the research the writer would need to do. The writer would need to read diaries, journals, and other documents, conduct interviews, look through seven-foot thick ledgers, blogs if any, maybe newspapers and/or magazines, travel halfway around the world for confirmation/chase gossips or whatever, study them, analyze every detail, fact-check, fact-check, fact-check,  and a lot more, and somehow organize them and write it as coherent as possible. But if that writer knows where to look, who to talk to, and follow the right tracks, well, I’m just going to say a tad easier. But of course, the difficulty of collecting all these depends on your subject. If it’s about the Biblical Moses, may God help you on your quest.

I’m not saying writing a non-fiction genre is easy as Googling or Wikipedia’ing your subject. But I found the process easier because I know what to write, but the struggle would come in how to do it. Either way, it’s fun, daunting at times, and orgasmic when finished.

If my classmates had actually tried to write a full novel whether fiction or not, and take it seriously in hopes to put a couple of grains of rice and potatoes from last month’s storage, I’m sure they would have very different and more intelligent opinions about it.

It could be that playing videogames for the past three weeks has degraded my mind. But between these two narratives, it’s just a matter of preparation with equal amount of imagination.

So, in my opinion, what is easier to write, fiction or not? Dunno. Never really tried the latter yet (you’re probably calling me a prick by now).

Was this a rant? No idea. Earth, Wind, & Fire is making me giddy. Yay for September!

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