Job Description of a Professional Fiction Writer

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a fiction writer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about the job description, job duties and employment outlook to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

Fiction writers create original written works that are not intended to be taken as literally true. Fiction writers create new ideas for stories through creative thinking and the use of writing exercises. Writers and authors generally have a bachelor's degree and an excellent grasp of language rules.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)* 3% for writers and authors
Median Annual Salary (2013)* $57,750 for writers and authors

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description of Fiction Writers

Fiction writers are authors of novels, plays, movies, poetry, songs and other original writings. Fiction writers may publish their own writings, submit work to other publishers or accept commissioned assignments. Many are freelancers who work from their homes.

Fiction Writer Job Duties

Fiction writers conjure new ideas to create stories, lyrics, scripts and poems, typically choosing one genre of fiction in which to work. They use a variety of writing exercises and prompts to stimulate inspiration for new writings. Writing exercises usually provide a scenario the fiction writer uses as a prompt to create a story.

Writing regularly in journals is another tool that fiction writers use to encourage creative thinking. Fiction writers may alter or embellish real-life experiences in their works. Reading the work of other fiction writers they admire may also stimulate fiction writers' imaginations.

Fiction writers are knowledgeable about story elements such as character, plot, theme, dialogue, style, point of view and conflict. They're storytellers who use detailed descriptions so that readers envision the story playing out. Writing fiction requires balancing artistic creativity with the skills of the craft.

Although fiction writing is not meant to be accepted as literal fact, research is often done to create a sense of authenticity. This helps the writer create more detailed and believable descriptions, which makes the writing more interesting. It also helps transport the reader into the story.

Rewriting and revising are a big part of each piece written by fiction writers. The first revisions are self-imposed so that the story meets the fiction writer's own standards. Editors, publishers and clients may then request certain revisions. Fiction writers are proficient in grammar, syntax and writing mechanics.

Fiction writers may conduct meetings with publishers, clients, other writing professionals and people interested in purchasing their writings. They plan and organize different jobs to help provide the discipline, focus and self-motivation to get each project done. Some clients may prefer a certain format for a given project, and fiction writers must adhere to those standards.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), writers and authors in general earned an annual median wage of $57,750 in 2013. The BLS predicted slow job growth of 3% from 2012-2022 for writers and authors.

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    • Must be 21 years of age or older and have completed some college or 24 years of age or older and a high school graduate for a Bachelor's degree
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    • Doctorate degree applicants must have a Masters degree
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  • School locations:
    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Communications and Journalism
      • Comparative Language Studies and Services
      • English Composition
        • Creative Writing, General
      • English Language and Literature
      • Foreign Language and Literature
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    • Florida (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Florida include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Communications and Journalism
      • Communication Studies
      • Comparative Language Studies and Services
      • Digital, Radio, and Television Communication
      • English Composition
        • Creative Writing, General
      • English Language and Literature
      • Foreign Language and Literature
      • Journalism
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    Areas of study you may find at Cornell University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Communications and Journalism
      • Communication Studies
      • Comparative Language Studies and Services
      • English Composition
        • Creative Writing, General
      • English Language and Literature
      • Foreign Language and Literature
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    Areas of study you may find at Boston University include:
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    • Communications and Journalism
      • Communication Studies
      • Comparative Language Studies and Services
      • Digital, Radio, and Television Communication
      • English Composition
        • Creative Writing, General
      • English Language and Literature
      • Foreign Language and Literature
      • Journalism
      • Public Relations and Advertising

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics