Monday, April 25, 2011
Ten Hot Tips for Writing Non-Fiction by Angie Kay Dilmore
1. Know your audience. Know their reading level and what they enjoy reading. Then speak their language. Include a glossary if appropriate.
2. Research the competition. How is your book different? Is there room in the market for another book on that subject? If there aren’t other books out there on that subject, is there a reason why?
3. Make it interactive. Include quizzes, puzzles, experiments, games, and activities. (This would be more applicable to children’s writing.)
4. Keep it brief. Say what you need to say in as few words as possible. Follow word count guidelines.
5. Focus your subject. Can you narrow a broad general topic to create a more interesting subject?
6. Consider narrative in your non-fiction writing. Rather than merely stating facts, tell your reader a story, with a beginning, middle, and end.
7. Introduce a new concept. Tell your reader something he/she does not already know. Or add a new twist to a familiar subject.
8. Use exciting language, strong verbs, and interesting word choices to grab your readers’ attention.
9. Don’t assume your reader has prior knowledge of a subject. Add clarification or explanation in your story where necessary.
10. Include bonus material with your non-fiction work, such as maps, photos, illustrations, websites, etc. (Often the publisher takes care of this. Depends on where you’re submitting.)
If you consider yourself a fiction writer, don’t dismiss non-fiction writing, as I did when I first started writing. Any prolific published author will tell you, non-fiction sells way easier than fiction. I once heard a remarkable statistic at a writers conference. I wish I could remember the quote exactly. Though the specific numbers escape me, the powerful message did not. But it went something like this (I’m making this up, so do not quote me.) There are ten fiction writers for every two non-fiction writers. And there are ten works of non-fiction accepted for every two fiction pieces accepted. The odds are definitely in the favor of non-fiction writers!
Angie Kay Dilmore is a freelance writer originally from Pittsburgh Pa., and has lived the past several years in southwest Louisiana. She writes for the children’s magazine market and contributes regularly to Boys’ Life. Angie reviews books for The Best Damn Creative Writing Blog, a literary website featuring publishing industry news, essays, reviews and commentary. She also writes picture books, poetry, and is working on a middle grade historical fiction. You can find Angie blogging at The Trials and Triumphs of a Transplant.