The following are some elements of writing that fiction and nonfiction writers share in crafting a good story.
Character – When developing a character or researching a real-life person, the driving force in portraying them needs to be understanding the heart of that character and showing it to the reader.
Setting – Whether it’s a real place or made up, you have to make it real for yourself and the reader. Use the senses and have the characters interact with the setting.
Narrative Arc – Riveting stories all have their ups and downs and as a writer, you have control over how that’s structured in your novel. Even if the timeline and people are fixed, based on facts, you can organize it to create the best impact on the reader.
Point of view – This is one area where there’s some difference between fiction and nonfiction. With fiction, you can choose whatever suits the story and characters. With nonfiction, you need to balance a close-in point of view that gives the reader a sense of the real-life person, but also pull back at times in order to keep a biographer’s objective point of view.
Dialogue – This is a must in fiction if you want to show your reader who your characters are in their own voices. With nonfiction, it’s harder to do because you need quotes from those you’re writing about, but even snippets of dialogue can bring life to your work. Dialogue, in general, is needed in both fiction and nonfiction to break up scenes and quicken the pace.
Thank you, Lindsey and Cynthia, for teaching us some writing tools that are useful no matter what genre we write.