Recently our own Big Al wrote a post about non-fiction and how it is largely missing in the annals of IU. True enough, most of our emphasis here is on fiction. Some of us, however, have waded into the cool waters of non-fiction, and I for one found the experience totally different than crafting a novel.
One thing I’ve learned is that fiction and non-fiction have very different roles. Broadly speaking, fiction’s purpose is to provide entertainment while non-fiction’s purpose is to provide information. These two things are not mutually exclusive, of course. If you read the novel Congo, you no doubt learned quite a bit about extracting data from digital video. By the same token, a non-fiction book like American Sniper is certainly entertaining in a dramatic, thought-provoking way.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s agree that authors who write fiction draw freely from their imaginations. Nonfiction writers are expected to deliver verifiable truths. We do not invent characters, events or dialog. Our task is to spill hard, cold, often ugly facts onto the page, framed in captivating paragraphs. Like novelists, we are storytellers engaged in a similar creative process, and what we write is filtered through our subjective perceptions.
Passion is the emotional component that drives the research. How we interpret information cannot be objective, no matter how hard we try to restrain influences that sway our points of view. Deeply held convictions influence the way our sentences are constructed, determine which resources will be brought forward to support our opinions, while at the same time we strive to keep the third person narrative consistently detached and trustworthy. After scouring every other author’s tome on our topic, we must remain convinced that we have something utterly new to offer our readers. Otherwise, why bother to retell the story? Continue reading “The Challenges of Publishing Indie Nonfiction Books by Marcia Quinn Noren”