It’s all narrative

The differences between a fiction and a non-fiction writer seem significant. A writer of stories can fabricate reality. A writer of history must adhere to it. A writer of stories has as material both the possible and the impossible, the imaginable and the unimaginable. A writer of philosophy, or psychology, or a writer concerned with any other craft, field or discipline, must abide by the constraints imposed by the topic he works with. Their audiences seem different too. Readers of fiction want a good yarn. Readers of non-fiction have entertainment as a secondary focus. But despite all this, there is one thing that unites the writers of fiction and non-fiction: narrative.

Any book about any topic needs a narrative structure. It must move from A to B to C. This is as true for a thriller as it is for a treatise on ecology. Even books which are deliberately fragmented—collected essays, collected papers, selected stories, letters or blog posts—have a narrative structure; they are united by their disconnectedness. 

All writing is narrative. It all seeks to string together certain words and symbols and from them, conjure a pattern of premises, meanings, implications and questions.