Journalism vs. Fiction: What’s the Difference?

Ronald E. Yates is an author of award-winning historical fiction and action/adventure novels, including the popular and highly-acclaimed Finding Billy Battles trilogy.

Hundreds, if not thousands of authors of fiction and non-fiction books were once journalists. I am one of them. I spent 27 years as a national and foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. I consider it the best training ground for my entry into writing Historical Fiction, which is what my Finding Billy Battles trilogy is.

However, the leap from journalism to fiction is not always an easy one. Sure, journalists have learned the fundamentals of communicating via the written word. They understand description, pacing, transition, even character development, but most appreciate that those critical elements of writing are a bit different when it comes to producing fiction. 

It is a pleasure today to share this blog post from Marylee MacDonald who is not only an excellent writer but a wonderful teacher and mentor for aspiring authors. Please enjoy this excellent essay on the differences between journalism and fiction.


By Marylee MacDonald, November 17, 2017, in For Writers Ready to PublishFor Writers Who Need Readers

What’s the difference between journalism and fiction, and why should you care? Well, if you’re a writer in this day and age, you’re likely to do more than one kind of writing. Long-form journalism often pays. Fiction rarely does. Or, at least, it can take time for people to find you and buy your books. That’s why fiction writers today pen articles for online magazines.

Some magazines expect you to write for free. Others pay for your guest post. The pay is good, but there’s another reason you might want to think about going back and forth between fiction and journalism. An insightful essay can boost a writer’s visibility. It can drive readers to your blog, and wouldn’t it be amazing if your essay went viral? In this post, I’m going to discuss