Dear Ms Snark:
After four successful nonfiction books -- one a Literary Guild alternate selection, and another a True Crime Book of the Month -- I keep running into the phrase "writing fiction is different than nonfiction." I find this interesting since many of my readers say "Your books read just like fiction." However, I've had no luck with fiction.
Could you please offer your views on the differences between fiction and nonfiction. I do recognize the obvious that one is true and the other isn't. That starting nonfiction means you already have the beginning, middle and the end as opposed to a blank future when starting a fiction work. That your characters are pretty much developed, and you are limited to report only the truth, and not embellish it.
Well, I'm open to contributions from the Snarklings on this one.
One difference is you can see into a someone's thoughts and feelings with fiction whereas with non fiction you can deduce that only from action. This sets up the delicious nuance of intention and execution.
You can also have people change and develop in fiction, whereas in real life "that's how he is and you aren't going to change him" is a staple of Cosmo advice columns (and also a good rule to live by IMO).
Fiction has to make sense; real life is often so perplexing as to defy explanation, thus the popularity of Dr. Phil et al.
And in fiction, you can kill people. That's damn appealing.