Episode 60: The Difference between Fiction and Non-Fiction. Duh.

On September 14, we welcomed Anna Fitch Courie into the studio to talk about her experience in Christian publishing. Here are the show notes: 

Theme for the day

Non-Fiction and Self-Promotion


  • Anna Fitch Courie’s story of becoming an Author
  • The Differences between Non-Fiction and Fiction Authorship
  • Choosing Self-Publishing, Hybrid Publishing, or Traditional (a checklist)
  • Marketing (your other job as an author)
back view photo of woman walking alone on the beach
Photo by Brady Knoll on Pexels.com

Segment 1

So Anna and I (Kasie) have known each other for a long time but the writing journey has definitely brought us closer. Yesterday (Sept 13) we spoke on campus at our alma mater, Clemson, on the challenges of being a writer in the digital age — specifically copyright, plagiarism, and the ethical choices around using others’ work.

So on the way home from the Upstate, I asked her if she’d like to visit the show this morning and tell our listeners about her own unexpected journey into authorship.

Anna developed a program for the Army called Walk to Iraq which was a fitness program for spouses left on post when their soldiers deployed. My own business and writing partner Jodie Cain Smith swears the program saved her life during a particularly bad deployment her husband Jay took. Anyway, the program maps the distance between the spouse’s location and the soldier’s unit and suggests the spouse walk small increments daily until the soldier returns, ultimately making the “journey” in miles.

According to Jodie the program was wildly successful. So that’s awesome.

So Christ Walk, I understand, was born out of that professional creation. Tell us how Christ Walk evolved. What was the original idea? How did you pursue it?

Was it always a book?

How did you go about planning the writing? Or did you pants it?

A big difference, I think, between fiction and non-fiction is that the former lends itself to pantsing but the latter feels like it has to be more planned — what with all the research and such.

Segment 2

So the differences between fiction and non-fiction are both obvious and nuanced.

This blog breaks it down like this:

  • Non-fiction is fact while fiction is imagined.
  • Fiction is more elaborate — detailed? Agree or disagree?
  • Fiction can be interpreted in multiple ways. Non-fiction can’t? Agree or disagree?
  • Non-fiction writing needs references. Is there a scholarship angle here that we need to be aware of? 

I’ve only taken on one non-fiction project and it did not go well. Though I write non-fiction all the time — I blog weekly — it’s harder to organize a scholarship-kind of project for me.

This post suggests when it is appropriate to use fiction and non-fiction:

  • Fiction is made-up stories, fantasy, something that’s not true. 
  • Non-fiction is real events, real people, the true rendering of occurrences.

Last week we talked about memoir and autobiography being the original unreliable narrators. How true do we expect memoir to be? What kind of fact-checking due diligence should non-fiction publishers do?

Yesterday at SIBA, Jessica Handler, who typically writes non-fiction but was there promoting her first novel, talked about the research she did for historical fiction. We had an episode with our friend Bonnie Stanard in which she talked about the “sticklers” for accuracy in historical fiction. Ms. Handler said The Magnetic Girl became a fiction project because she ran out of sufficient research to accurately write the non-fiction piece. She had to fill in the gaps with her imagination.

I like the idea of fiction filling in the gaps.

I also like when historians study the fiction of the era as a telling part of the culture.

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