Reality and Fairness in Writing

Writing fiction is harder than writing nonfiction for me. That said, however, writing nonfiction has its challenges as well. The cliche about every story having two sides creates the basis of two primary challenges in writing nonfiction–reality and fairness.

Whether you’re writing an article about a person or an issue or an event, there are multiple viewpoints to consider. When writing a personality profile, for example, it’s important to remember that no person is perfect. The reality is everyone has experience with mistakes, failure, and regret. As a writer your challenge is to decide how much of that to share in an article highlighting the person’s success or contribution to society.

I realize I’m stating the obvious when I say there are two sides to every issue. If you’re writing about an issue, you again deal with the challenges of reality and fairness. That means you’ll have to decide on balance in resources quoted, for example. You’ll also have to decide if you can be fair in seeing both sides of an issue you’re considering writing about.

You even deal with the challenges of reality and fairness when writing about events, holidays, celebrations, sports, etc. All you have to do is look at or listen to the news to find examples such as the recent coverage of the Final Four in Indianapolis. Some write about the Final Four as a sporting event. Others write about it from the perspective of an event to be boycotted.

Sometime, just for fun, try experimenting with listening to the news to find an issue that interests you. Then create an outline of the article you would write about that issue. What are the two sides? How would you handle each one? What types of resources/experts would you need? If you find yourself leaning more favorably to one side over the other, consider what it would take to tell that other side of the story.

Reality and fairness in writing are two of the biggest challenges writers face. Learn to accept those challenges and you’ll become better at doing the writing you love. Happy writing!



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