The Benefits of Non-fiction for Fiction Writers

“When you paint a dragon, dot its eyes.” -Chinese proverb


I’ve learned to be precise over the last few weeks because I’ve ventured into the territory of guest blogging. My most recent non-fiction posts are: Five Things You Should Know about Taiwan and  Five Reasons for Publishing with a Small Press.

As a fiction writer, I’ve enjoyed switching to non-fiction for three reasons (I know, I’m breaking the number five trend that’s been happening):

  • Research:
    With non-fiction comes the responsibility to research. It’s amazing what information crops up with just a Google search. If I want to get more academic findings, I can also access Google Scholar. (In fact, even actual journalists need help in finding facts and use sites like HARO.)
  • Short Length:
    Guest posts are relatively quick to write, so I can see my name published right away. Posts run between 300-500 words, so I need to condense my words. (I know some writers who love Twitter for its 140-character limit and the opportunity to hone in on the correct words.) Blog posts are also so up-to-date that they provide the extra pressure to produce at a fast rate, making me more efficient. At the same time, I know that the Internet refreshes so often that I don’t need to be perfect–my thoughts will be wiped out by more current posts pretty quickly.

What draws you to non-fiction, even as a reader? My favorite non-fiction books are Malcolm Gladwell’s classic Outliers and Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In.

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  1. Good for you, Jennifer for diving into nonfiction. I enjoy the research aspect of it although it does involve a lot of time.

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