Writers develop original fiction and nonfiction for a variety of sources, including books, magazines, trade journals, online publications, company newsletters, radio and television broadcasts, motion pictures, and advertisements. Wherever their work appears, the one characteristic that all writers share is the ability to thoroughly conduct research.Whether writing a novel, a newspaper article, or a biography, a writer must be able to locate the information needed by researching every possible resource and then organize and interpret it for the readers. All writers, especially those who write nonfiction, rely on their research skills to establish their credibility with editors and readers.
Some writers specialize in fields that require specific research skills, such as technical writers or science and medical writers. Technical writers put technical information into easily understandable language, working on projects such as operating and maintenance manuals, catalogs, parts lists, assembly instructions, sales promotion materials, and project proposals.Many work with engineers on technical subject matters to prepare written interpretations of engineering and design specifications and other information.
Science and medical writers prepare a range of formal documents presenting detailed information on the physical or medical sciences. They convey research findings for scientific or medical professions and organize information for advertising or public relations needs.Many work with researchers on technical subjects to prepare written interpretations of data and other information for the general public.
Most writers and researchers are familiar with technology, and many couldn’t imagine working without laptop computers, desktop or electronic publishing systems, scanners, and software that helps them to organize their material. Some writers prepare material directly for the Internet, which may include writing for electronic newspapers or magazines, creating short fiction or poetry, or producing technical documentation that is available only online. Those who write text for websites are comfortable working with graphic design, page layout, and multimedia software.
Nonfiction writers either propose a topic or are assigned one by an editor or publisher. Combining their research skills with personal observation and interviews, they select and organize the material they want to use to express ideas and convey information in the final piece.
Freelance writers work independently. They write novels, nonfiction books, magazine and newspaper articles, and advertising copy, selling their work to the appropriate clients. Some contract with a publisher to write a book or an article; others are hired to complete specific assignments, such as writing about a new product or technology.