Traditional Publishing

How Dealing in Facts Helps Fiction Writers Hone Their Craft – Wednesday September 14, 2022

When I left my career in journalism in 2018 to study creative writing, I was worried that my training as a news reporter might make it hard for me to write fiction. After all, if there was one thing my time in newsrooms taught me, it was that I wasn’t allowed to make things up. The facts were the facts. Dates and stats needed to be tripled-checked, statements and names confirmed, timelines cross-referenced, and if I ever got anything wrong, a correction had to be issued as I sulked in embarrassment.

And so, getting started in fiction felt like pulling teeth. I continuously doubted myself, unsure if the characters and events I concocted were believable. For months I wrote while looking over my shoulder, as though the Fact Police were going to tackle me to the ground for daring to do make things up. But as I kept writing, spinning up my novel, All That’s Left Unsaida literary mystery about a young woman who tracks down the witnesses to her brother’s grisly murder, determined to find out what happened and why they each claim to have seen nothing—much of my journalism training, which I’d thought would hold me back from writing fiction, actually helped me draft, revise, and sell my novel.

Below are some of the skills I picked up as a journalist that, rather than being a hindrance, have been an enormous help in writing fiction.

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