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Nancy Erickson, Astute Mentor for Noteworthy Clients to Write a Nonfiction Book

4 Different Styles of Writing for Nonfiction Books

by The Book Professor | Feb 3, 2021 | How to write a book , Nonfiction Writing , Select Uncategorized , Writing Nonfiction , Writing Tips | 0 comments

nonfiction writing style

How to choose between different types of writing styles for your nonfiction book.

Before you put pen to paper for your nonfiction book, you need to know the different styles of writing used for nonfiction and pick the style that best suits your project.

When we say “style,” what we really mean is writing voice. How do you “sound” inside the reader’s mind as they read your book?

Nonfiction authors tend to gravitate toward one of four distinct writing styles—but only one is the best fit for most nonfiction projects.

The AUTHORITATIVE Writing Style

What is it? This writing style sets you up as the expert imparting knowledge to your reader. It’s heavily fact-based and may use jargon or other special terms unfamiliar to most readers.

When to use it: Textbooks or peer-reviewed academic journals.

nonfiction writing style

Some writers believe that to establish credibility with readers, they must sound like an expert with lofty language and plenty of facts. They may use multisyllable words in every paragraph and take a “just the facts, ma’am” approach to their material.

This works well in textbooks or peer-reviewed journals. However, for other types of nonfiction—books of advice, books on business strategy, memoirs, etc.—the authoritative style falls flat. It hides the author’s personality from the reader, and readers want a connection with their author.

In addition, complicated words and jargon can make readers believe they don’t know enough about your field to be part of your audience. If a reader has to look up the definition of a word, you’ve lost them.

The LYRICAL Writing Style

What is it: The lyrical writing style uses descriptions and flowery language to evoke a beautiful mental picture for the reader. Imagine the imagery-dense poetry you read in high school English.

When to use: Novels and poetry

nonfiction writing style

Authors gravitate towards this style because of the frequent adage “Show, don’t tell.” If you’re supposed to help your reader experience something rather than simply tell them about it, then descriptive language should form the bulk of your writing. Right?

Not so fast. Lyrical writing can slow down your story. Even novels must balance lyrical writing with narration and dialogue or readers get bored.

Nonfiction readers, when faced with a long passage of descriptions, may skip ahead to the next bit of dialogue or the next moment of forward momentum in the story. If they do this too often, they’ll get frustrated and put your book down.

You might choose to use moments of lyrical writing sparingly, particularly in memoirs, which share many traits with novels. Be aware, however, that your overall authorial voice should not be lyrical.

The CONVERSATIONAL Writing Style

What is it: Conversational language means that you write how you talk, including incorrect grammar and inefficient wording.

When to use it: Books written to teens, novels or short stories, poems.

nonfiction writing style

Write how you talk. That sounds like good advice for connecting with readers—but is it really?

The goal of writing is to make the absorption of your ideas as smooth as possible for readers. Our everyday speech, on the other hand, is riddled with incomplete sentences and throwaway words like “just” and “actually” and “like.” As we talk, we don’t always arrange our thoughts in the most logical way. When written verbatim, our daily dialogue doesn’t make for quick, efficient reading.

Which one of these paragraphs is easier to read?

  • I actually didn’t have all the ingredients after all, so I just went to the store to just pick them up. It was really busy at the store and I kept thinking I’d be late to the party. Or maybe miss it altogether.
  • I didn’t have all the ingredients, so I went to the store. The store was busy and I worried I’d be late to the party or miss it altogether.

In example 2 with throwaway words removed, grammar corrected, and word length shortened, the meaning of the sentence is more clear.

You may use a bit of conversational language in dialogue to make your dialogue sound more realistic. Additionally, you might use conversational language more often if your book is written to teens. Teenagers connect with a casual style that sounds closer to the way people talk. Even in these instances, you don’t want to overuse the conversational style.

As with the lyrical style, conversational language should be used as a seasoning, not a main ingredient, in the recipe of your book.

The ACCESSIBLE Writing Style

What is it: Accessible writing uses everyday language and realistic examples to connect with your reader, and communicates clearly with good grammar and crisp, efficient words.

When to use: Business books, self-help books, memoirs, etc.

nonfiction writing style

For most nonfiction writers, the accessible writing style will best serve your audience. It solves all the problems inherent with the previous three.

The accessible writing style won’t put readers off with unfamiliar five-syllable words on every page.

It moves your story along at a brisk pace and compels your readers to turn pages.

It cuts extraneous language to make every sentence a smooth experience. This helps readers better grasp and digest your ideas.

Remember: the best writing is when the reader doesn’t realize they’re reading. If you’ve done your job, your reader will immerse himself or herself into the story and flow with your ideas.

Your Voice is Unique

Remember, however, that choosing a style does not define your entire authorial voice. When you offer knowledge, advice, help, and hope that readers need, they want to feel connected to you. You can only do that if you allow your writing to sound authentically “you.”

So be unafraid to include your own personal story in your work, if it’s relevant. Allow your sense of humor, your outlook on life, and your sensibilities to enliven the prose. You can write something true to your voice and still make it accessible to readers.

Need help perfecting your writing style?

Here at The Book Professor®, we help authors find their true writing voice every day. We also help authors adhere to an accessible writing style while telling their story.

Our coaching programs grant you access to professional writing coaches and a cohort of other aspiring authors just like you who are perfecting their respective writing voices.

Contact us today to learn more about our coaching program.

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The 12 Non-Fiction Writing Styles for Authors

nonfiction writing style

Often, we explore these styles alongside our authors with the goal of helping them choose the ideal “formula” for their non-fiction book.

Whether you are getting started in storyboarding your next hit or brainstorming ideas for your first published work, let this article serve as a guide for you to determine the type of style that will suit your book best.

Elliot Neff – A Case Study in Time

Elliot Neff is a busy man. He is the father of seven children, CEO of a growing company called Chess4Life, and spends most of his productive hours traveling the world to speak at chess tournaments.

It is difficult to imagine how a man such as Elliot could possibly squeeze out the time to write a book! Even when Elliot does find time to write, he is unclear on what to do. Thus, his rare block of free time for writing and sharing his ideas is under-utilized.

But, after Elliot selected a specific writing style for his non-fiction work, the daunting question of how to write his book vanished instantly!

Now possessing a clear-cut writing plan, Elliot’s time for writing is both productive and structured . He is making smooth progress on his manuscript!

Does Elliot’s story sound familiar? Authors often struggle to make maximal use of their writing time, due to not knowing how to lay their ideas out. By learning about the 12 different non-fiction styles, you can take the guesswork out of writing your next book.

Now, choosing from one of these styles by no means makes your book templated .

Rather, having a defined style simply tees you up with the appropriate framework and allows you to make it unique with the one thing that your audience craves: your experience .

The 12 Non-Fiction Writing Styles

These are the 12 non-fiction styles for authors to use as a framework in writing their books.

Problem / Solution

This is the most common style of non-fiction books. Here, the author presents a problem, usually summed up by a “story question,” (like our story of Elliot) and then offers the solution.

To be persuasive, the author may present multiple possible solutions and demonstrate why they will or will not work to address the posed problem.

The classic “this or that” non-fiction work.

In this style of book, one thing gets compared to another. This could be a comparison between service-based businesses and product-based businesses, or even two styles of leadership in an organization.

Non-fiction works like these are ideal for helping the reader evaluate the choices at their disposal.

How-To books are simple and straightforward. They take a non-fiction idea and typify it into an instructive style of writing.

Books such as these are meant solely to impart wisdom from writer to reader.

Telling a fictional story in the form of a parable is an effective manner in which to convey a message.

Art or Photography Book

This book is often referred to as a coffee table book.

Books such as these allow imagery to be the focal point for the reader and have their text merely serve to enhance the imagery. This prompts the author to make their own profound conclusions.

An art or photography book can be incredibly compelling when executed correctly.

Article Compendium

Article compendium books offer the reader a collection of curated articles within a given topic. These articles are meant to be easily digested and call the author to a conclusion.

They can also vary tremendously in length. For example, an article compendium titled “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Starting Your Own Business” might be as brief as 5,000 words, or even as long as 10 full-length chapters.

If you possess a breadth of statistics to share, a non-fiction book might be the best way to get your message across.

Books such as these take data-rich material and make it more user-friendly, with lots of charts and graphs. When a book like this is user-friendly, it aids the audience in understanding the information quickly and retaining what they read.

Outlining the relevant facts and statistics in an engaging and organized manner helps your audience see the perspective you want them to see.

Books about People

Writing a book about yourself or another person can focus on transformational events in the author, narrator or central character’s life. This form of writing is typically close to the author’s experience. Using your experiences to express advice on improving the human condition makes a powerful book.

Letters & Journals

Personal thoughts, reflections, articles and blog posts can be incorporated together to form the foundation of a book.

The life story of someone written by another author.

Autobiography

The writer’s own account of his/her life experience.

The writer’s record of experiences from his/her own life.

Creating Your Own Style

The final style of non-fiction writing is the one that you choose for yourself. While many of these writing styles are tried and true, there is always the potential for the author to create something distinct and new.

Knowing Exactly Where to Start

By now, you should be much more familiar with the possibilities at your disposal for non-fiction writing. Choosing a style that is right for you is a highly personal decision. Let us know if we can help in making that decision for your future best-seller.

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Home » Blog » How to Write a Nonfiction Book (8 Key Stages)

How to Write a Nonfiction Book (8 Key Stages)

nonfiction writing style

TABLE OF CONTENTS

This article explores how to write a nonfiction book, a genre encompassing various subjects from history and biography to self-help and science.

Nonfiction writing, distinct from its fictional counterpart, demands a rigorous approach to factual accuracy, comprehensive research, and clarity in presentation. We aim to provide a pragmatic guide for aspiring authors, delineating the steps involved in a nonfiction work’s conceptualization, research, writing, editing, and publishing.

This guide serves both novice and experienced writers, offering insights into each phase of the book-writing process. By adhering to a methodical approach, writers can transform their knowledge and ideas into compelling, well-structured nonfiction books.

How to Write a Nonfiction Book

Here are the main 8 stages of writing a nonfiction book. Let’s start.

Choosing a Topic

Selecting the right topic is the cornerstone of writing a successful nonfiction book. This step is crucial because it influences your writing journey and impacts the appeal to your target audience.

Whether you are writing a nonfiction book for the first time or the tenth time, it never hurts to use a good template. Squibler provides writing-ready templates, including for nonfiction topics.

nonfiction-book-template

Identifying Your Passion

Begin by introspecting about subjects you are interested in or even a personal story that you have. The ideal topic should intrigue you and sustain your interest over the long process of writing a book. It could be a field you have expertise in, a hobby you are passionate about, or a subject you have always wanted to explore in depth.

Use Portent’s Content Idea Generator to generate ideas based on any subject you have in mind.

Assessing Market Demand

Once you have a list of potential topics, the next step is to analyze the market demand. This involves researching current trends, finding a popular nonfiction book title in your chosen genre, and identifying gaps in the available literature. Tools like Google Trends and Amazon’s Best Sellers lists can provide insights into what readers are currently interested in.

Conducting Initial Research

Before finalizing your topic, conduct preliminary research to ensure there’s enough information available to cover your subject comprehensively. This research will also help you understand the different perspectives and debates surrounding your topic. It’s important to ensure that the topic is not too broad, making it difficult to cover thoroughly or too narrow, limiting the book’s appeal to a wider audience.

Finalizing Your Topic

After considering your passion, market demand, and the availability of research material, narrow down your choices to one topic. This topic should be interesting and marketable and offer a unique angle or perspective that distinguishes your book from existing works in the field.

Use the Hedgehog Concept to find a great topic for your nonfiction book. Read all about this concept here .

Hedgehog Concept for top creation

In summary, choosing a topic for your nonfiction book requires balancing personal interest, market viability, and availability of sufficient content. This careful consideration will set the foundation for a compelling and successful nonfiction book.

Research and Gathering Information

Conducting research is a fundamental aspect of writing nonfiction. It involves gathering, organizing, and verifying information to ensure reliability.

Detailed Methods for Conducting Effective Research

Here are helpful methods for conducting research:

  • Identify Reliable Sources: Identify authoritative sources such as academic journals, books by respected authors, government publications, and reputable news organizations. Online databases and libraries can be invaluable for this.
  • Diverse Research Techniques: Use primary sources (like interviews, surveys, and firsthand observations) and secondary sources (such as books, articles, and documentaries). This mix provides depth and perspective to your research.
  • Note-Taking and Documentation: As you gather information, take detailed notes. Record bibliographic information (author, title, publication date, etc.) for each source to make referencing easier later. Tools like Zotero or EndNote can help manage citations.

Tips for Organizing and Compiling Research Materials

Here are some further tips for organizing your nonfiction book writing process.

  • Categorize Information: Organize your research into categories related to different aspects of your topic. This will make it easier to find information when you start writing.
  • Use Digital Tools: Utilize digital tools such as spreadsheets, document folders, or specialized research software to keep your information organized.
  • Maintain a Research Log: Keep a log of your research activities, including where you found information and keywords or topics searched. This log will be invaluable if you need to revisit a source.

By using Squibler for your writing, you can use many tools to organize your writing to stick to a steady schedule.

Ethical Considerations and Fact-Checking in Nonfiction Writing

Here are ethical considerations to be aware of when learning how to write a nonfiction book:

  • Fact-Checking: Rigorously check the facts you plan to include in your book. Verify dates, names, quotes, and statistics from multiple sources.
  • Avoid Plagiarism: Always give proper credit to the sources of your information. Paraphrase where necessary and use quotations for direct citations.
  • Ethical Reporting: Be aware of the ethical implications of your writing, especially when dealing with sensitive topics. Strive for fairness and accuracy in your representation of different viewpoints.

Effective research for a nonfiction book requires a systematic and ethical approach to gathering, organizing, and verifying information. You can ensure that your nonfiction work is credible and compelling by using various research methods, maintaining organized notes, and adhering to ethical standards.

Planning and Outlining the Book

Planning and outlining are critical steps in writing a nonfiction book. This phase involves structuring your ideas and research findings into a coherent and logical framework to guide your writing process.

Importance of Creating a Detailed Outline

Read about the importance of having a detailed outline.

  • Blueprint for Your Book: An outline serves as a roadmap for your book, helping you organize your thoughts and research systematically. It ensures that your narrative flows and that you cover all key points.
  • Efficiency and Focus: A well-structured outline helps you write. It keeps you focused on your main points and prevents you from veering off-topic.
  • Identifying Gaps: During the outlining process, you may identify areas where further research or elaboration is needed, allowing you to address these gaps before you begin writing.

Here is an example of how to outline your book based on the structure:

book outline example

Methods for Outlining Nonfiction Books

Here, you’ll learn about key methods for creating an outline:

  • Chronological Structure: A chronological approach might be most effective for topics that unfold over time, such as historical events or biographies.
  • Thematic Structure: If your book covers different aspects of a topic, organizing your outline by themes or subjects can help present information in a more integrated way.
  • Problem-Solution Framework: For topics like business or self-help, structuring your outline to present problems and their solutions can engage readers.

Tips for Structuring Your Book

Read some further tips for creating a book structure:

  • Start with a Broad Overview: Begin your outline with a broad overview of your topic, then break it into more specific chapters or sections.
  • Balance Your Chapters: Try to balance the length and depth of each chapter to keep readers engaged and ensure a smooth flow.
  • Include Introduction and Conclusion: Plan for an introductory section to set the context of your book and a conclusion to wrap up and reinforce your key messages.
  • Consider Readers’ Needs: Keep your intended audience in mind while outlining. Structure your content to address the readers’ interests, background knowledge, and expectations.

book structure template

Writing the First Draft

Writing the first draft of a nonfiction book is where you transform your research and outline into a manuscript. This stage is about getting your ideas down on paper and shaping the raw material of your research into a readable and engaging narrative.

Starting the Writing Process

Here, you will read the main steps in writing nonfiction and healthy writing habits for creative nonfiction.

  • Overcoming the Blank Page: The first step is to overcome the intimidation of the blank page. Begin by writing about the parts you are most comfortable with or most excited about. This builds momentum.
  • Refer to Your Outline: Consult your outline to stay on track. However, be flexible enough to deviate if a section needs more elaboration or a different direction.
  • Set Realistic Goals: Establish daily or weekly word count goals. Consistency is key to making steady progress.
  • Write Consistent Conversations: A nonfiction writer creates a conversation with their readers. Create a consistent information flow by using one of the four types.

Here are four types of conversations that will give you an idea of what will work best for your audience.

four types of conversations

Maintaining a Consistent Writing Routine

Learn how to maintain a writing routine in each writing phase:

  • Create a Writing Schedule: Set aside dedicated time for writing each day or week. Consistency is crucial, whether an hour every morning or a full day over the weekend.
  • Create a Writing Environment: Find or create a space where you can write without distractions. The right environment can significantly boost your productivity and focus.

Dealing with Writer’s Block

Read about the basics of overcoming writer’s block.

  • Take Breaks: Step away from your work if you hit a block. Sometimes, taking a short walk or engaging in a different activity can refresh your mind.
  • Write Freely: Don’t be too concerned with perfection in the first draft. Allow yourself to write freely without worrying too much about grammar or style at this stage.
  • Talk It Out: Discussing your ideas with someone can provide new perspectives and help overcome blocks.

Staying Motivated

Learn how to stay motivated:

  • Track Your Progress: Tracking your progress can be a great motivational tool. Seeing how far you’ve come can encourage you to keep going.
  • Seek Feedback: Sharing sections of your draft with trusted friends or other nonfiction authors provides encouragement and constructive feedback.
  • Remember Your Purpose: Remind yourself why you started this project. Revisiting your initial inspiration can reignite your enthusiasm.

Writing the first draft of your nonfiction book involves starting with confidence, maintaining a disciplined routine, tackling challenges like writer’s block, and staying motivated throughout the process. This stage is less about perfection and more about bringing your ideas to life in a coherent structure. Remember, the first draft is just the beginning, and refinement comes later in the editing stages.

Editing and Revising

Editing and revising are about refining your first draft and enhancing its clarity, coherence, and overall quality. It involves scrutinizing and improving your manuscript at different levels, from overall structure to individual sentences.

The Importance of a Self-Editing Process

Read about self-editing.

  • First Layer of Refinement: Self-editing is your first opportunity to review and improve your work. This process includes reorganizing sections, ensuring each chapter flows logically into the next, and checking for consistency in tone and style.
  • Focus on Clarity and Conciseness: Look for areas where arguments can be made clearer, descriptions more vivid, and redundancies eliminated. It’s crucial to be concise and to the point in nonfiction writing.

Seeking Feedback

Here, you will read about basic tips for seeking feedback.

  • Beta Readers and Writing Groups: Share your manuscript with trusted individuals representing your target audience. Beta readers or members of writing groups can provide invaluable feedback from a reader’s perspective.
  • Constructive Criticism: Be open to constructive criticism. It can provide insights into areas you might have overlooked or not considered fully.

Hiring a Professional Editor

Here’s what to consider if you think you need a professional editor.

  • When and Why It’s Necessary: A professional editor can bring a level of polish and expertise that’s hard to achieve on your own. They can help with structural issues, language clarity, and fact-checking. Consider hiring an editor, especially if you plan to self-publish.
  • Types of Editing Services: Understand the different editing services available, including developmental editing, copyediting, and proofreading. Each serves a different purpose and is relevant at different stages of the revision process.

Revising Your Manuscript

Here, you’ll read about revising the manuscript.

  • Iterative Process: Revision is an iterative process. It may require several rounds to get your manuscript to the desired quality.
  • Attention to Detail: Check grammar, punctuation, and factual accuracy. Nonfiction books, in particular, need to be factually correct and well-cited.
  • Incorporating Feedback: Integrate the feedback from your beta readers and editor judiciously. Balance maintaining your voice and message with addressing valid concerns and suggestions.

Editing and revising are where your manuscript transforms into its final form. This stage requires patience, attention to detail, and, often, external input. By embracing the editing and revising process, you can significantly enhance the quality of your nonfiction book, making it more engaging, credible, and polished.

Publishing Options

After writing, editing, and revising your nonfiction book, the next critical step in the how-to-write-a-nonfiction-book process is to decide how to publish it. Today, a nonfiction author has various options, each with its own set of advantages and challenges. Understanding these can help you choose the best path for your nonfiction book.

Traditional Publishing

Here, you can read about traditional publishing routes.

  • Working with Literary Agents: Traditional publishing typically involves securing a literary agent to represent your book to publishers. An agent’s knowledge of the market and industry contacts can be invaluable.
  • The Submission Process: This involves preparing a proposal and sample chapters to send to publishers, often through your agent. The process can be lengthy and competitive.
  • Advantages: Traditional publishers offer editorial, design, and marketing support. They can also provide broader distribution channels.
  • Considerations: It can be challenging to get accepted by a traditional publisher. They usually control the final product and a significant share of the profits.

Self-Publishing

Here, you can read about the possibility of self-published books.

  • Complete Creative Control: Self-publishing gives you total control over every aspect of your book, from the content to the cover design and pricing.
  • The Self-Publishing Process: This includes tasks like formatting the book, obtaining an ISBN, and choosing distribution channels (e.g., Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing).
  • Marketing and Promotion: Self-publishing means you are responsible for marketing and promoting your book. This can be a significant task but also offers the opportunity for higher royalties per book sold.
  • Accessibility: Platforms like Amazon, Smashwords, and Draft2Digital have made self-publishing more accessible, offering tools and services to assist authors.

Hybrid Publishing

The third option is hybrid publishing. Read more about it:

  • Combination of Traditional and Self-Publishing: Hybrid publishing models combine elements of both traditional and self-publishing, offering more support than self-publishing alone but with more flexibility and control for the author.
  • Costs and Services: These publishers often charge for their services, but they also offer professional editing, design, and marketing services.

Choosing the Right Option

Finally, here are tips for deciding exactly what the route to take:

  • Consider Your Goals: Consider what you want to achieve with your book. Are you looking to reach a wide audience, maintain creative control, or see your book in bookstores?
  • Understand Your Audience: Knowing where your target audience buys books can guide your choice. Some genres do exceptionally well in self-publishing, while others fare better with traditional publishers.
  • Assess Your Resources: Consider your budget, available time for marketing, and your comfort level with the various aspects of the publishing process.

The choice between traditional, self-publishing, and hybrid options depends on your goals, resources, and the level of control and support you desire. Each path has its unique set of benefits and challenges, and understanding these can help you make an informed decision about the best way to bring your nonfiction book to your readers.

Marketing and Promotion

The success of a nonfiction book depends on effective marketing and promotion strategies. Here are tactics that you can use:

  • Building an Author Platform: A strong author platform is essential for success in marketing. This involves establishing your online and offline presence, which can be achieved through a professional website, active social media profiles, blogging, and networking in relevant communities. An effective platform helps in building credibility and a loyal reader base.
  • Effective Marketing Strategies: Developing and implementing a comprehensive marketing plan is key. This could include arranging book launch events, participating in speaking engagements, creating promotional content, and engaging in online marketing efforts. Tailoring these strategies to your target audience and leveraging the right channels are critical for maximum impact.
  • Utilizing Social Media: Social media is a powerful tool for promoting your book. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn offer direct engagement with your audience. Regular posts, interactive content, and targeted ads on these platforms increase your book’s visibility and attract potential readers.
  • Book Tours and Speaking Engagements: Conducting book tours and speaking at relevant events can enhance your book’s exposure. These engagements provide opportunities for personal interaction with your audience through physical events or virtual webinars and talks. They are effective in generating interest and boosting sales.
  • Engaging with Media and PR: Media engagement is another vital aspect of book promotion. Reaching out to newspapers, magazines, radio, and TV programs related to your book’s topic can help gain wider exposure. Press releases, interviews, and book reviews are traditional yet effective ways to attract media attention.
  • Email Marketing: Email marketing involves contacting your audience directly through newsletters and email campaigns. It’s an effective way to keep your readers informed about your book, upcoming events, and any new content you produce.
  • Collaborations and Partnerships: Partnering with other authors, bloggers, and organizations can amplify your marketing efforts. These collaborations can include joint promotional events, guest blogging, or featuring on podcasts. Such partnerships can help you reach a broader audience and gain credibility in your field.

Here are the most frequently asked questions about how to write a nonfiction book.

1. How do I choose the right topic for my nonfiction book?

Choosing the right topic involves balancing your interests, expertise, and what readers are interested in. Consider topics you are passionate about and know well, then research the market to see if there’s a demand for information on these subjects. It’s also important to ensure there’s enough material available to write a comprehensive book on the topic.

2. How much research should I do for my nonfiction book?

The amount of research needed varies depending on the subject. However, gathering comprehensive and accurate information is vital to establish credibility and trust with your readers. Use a mix of primary and secondary sources and verify facts from multiple sources. Remember, in nonfiction, the quality and reliability of your information are as important as how you present it.

3. Should I write an outline before starting my nonfiction book?

Yes, creating an outline is highly recommended. An outline is a roadmap for your whole book idea, whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction. It ensures you cover all necessary points and maintain a logical flow throughout the book. Outlines can be modified as you write, but having a basic structure in place can significantly ease the writing process.

4. What are the key steps in editing and revising my nonfiction book?

Editing and revising involves several steps: First, conduct a self-edit to improve structure, clarity, and coherence. Next, get feedback from beta readers or a writing group. Finally, consider hiring a professional editor for developmental editing, copyediting, and proofreading. Pay attention to factual accuracy and consistency, and eliminate redundancies or unclear sections. Remember, editing and revising are crucial for enhancing the quality and readability of your book.

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Home / Guides / Book Publishing / How to Write a Nonfiction Book in 2024: The Ultimate Guide for Authors

How to Write a Nonfiction Book in 2024: The Ultimate Guide for Authors

  • Part 1: Your Book Idea
  • Part 2: Outline the Book
  • Part 3: Write the Book
  • Part 4: Edit the Book
  • Part 5: Format Your Nonfiction Book
  • Part 6: Publish & Market Your Book

If you want to be a nonfiction author, I’ve got the perfect guide for you. 

I've assembled this ultimate guide will walk you through the entire process of creating your nonfiction book, from the initial idea to the final publication.

  • How to ensure your idea will sell
  • How to outline and write your nonfiction book
  • How to polish your book to make it perfect
  • How to publish and market your book for maximum success

Some of my links in this article may give me a small commission if you use them to purchase products. There’s NO extra cost to you, and it helps me continue to write handy articles like this one.

The first step is to come up with your idea, and validate it to make sure it is something that will sell.

Determine What Problem Your Nonfiction Book Solves

When it comes to nonfiction writing, it's common for beginning ideas to be a bit vague. It's easy to have a general concept in mind, but to truly make your book a success, you need to do market research to ensure there's an audience for your work. 

This research will help you narrow down your focus and identify the specific problem your book will solve.

In most cases, nonfiction books are written to solve a specific problem . Whether it's a how-to guide on a particular topic, or a self-help book addressing a certain issue, these types of books are meant to provide readers with valuable information that can help them in some way. 

Side note: there are some genres, such as history books, creative nonfiction, or memoirs, that don't quite fit into this mold. But even in these cases, it's still important to understand why people want to read it.

When doing market research, it's important to answer the five W's of your book: the who , what , where , when , and why . 

By answering these questions, you'll be able to identify your niche and craft a book that truly resonates with readers.

Validate Your Book Idea

Before you completely narrow down your story or topic, you need to know if it's a good idea or not. To do this, you need to run through four steps:

  • Step 1: Learn if and how many people search for your book idea
  • Step 2: Learn if the idea is profitable during the book topic validation process
  • Step 3: Discover how hard the competition is for your book
  • Step 4: Rinse and repeat

If you find your book topic is not profitable, you can still write it. But if that's the case, you will have to resort to different marketing tactics. You will need to focus on finding the right market somewhere other than Amazon, and getting them interested in reading your book.

Read more in our article on book idea validation .

Determine Your Audience

When it comes to market research for your book, the most important part is understanding your audience. Without a clear understanding of who you're writing for, it will be difficult to create a book that truly resonates with readers. Counterintuitively, you want to narrow down your audience as much as possible. 

One of the best ways to narrow down your audience is by creating a customer avatar. This is a single person that represents your ideal reader. 

The more specific you can make this person, the better. 

It's important to think about things like their gender, age, background, education level, family situation, and even how much money they make. 

The more specific you can get, the more you'll understand about the kinds of problems they're facing, and how your book can help them.

Having a customer avatar in mind can help you make important decisions about your book, such as what types of information to include, what tone to use, and even what types of marketing to do. 

It also helps to think of your customer avatar when you are writing as well so you are writing with a specific person in mind and that will help you to keep your writing more focused. 

Outlining is the next part, and is particularly important for nonfiction books.

You want to make sure you are covering all the subjects thoroughly in your nonfiction book outline, and nothing is lost in translation. Here are some ideas to help.

Brainstorm Ideas

Once you have a clear understanding of your target audience and the problem your book will solve, it's time to start brainstorming ideas. If you already know what your book is about, this is the time to think about how to structure your book and what to include in it. 

If you're still not sure what your book is about, this is the time to explore different possibilities.

When brainstorming ideas, it's important not to hold back. Write down everything that comes to mind, even if it doesn't seem like a good fit at first. 

To help generate ideas, try brainstorming with a group of people, whether it's friends, family or other nonfiction writers. They may have insights you haven’t considered and the exchange of thoughts can be very productive. Also, you could explore other books in your niche and look for inspiration, or research the latest trends and best practices in your niche.

Ultimately, don't be afraid to experiment and try out different things. Brainstorming is a creative process and the more ideas you have to work with, the better your final book will be.

After brainstorming ideas, it's time to dive into research. Research is the best way to truly understand what your book should talk about.

If you find that no one has written about your topic before, it might be a sign that the topic may not be as helpful as you think. So, it's important to be open to the possibility of changing the topic or pivoting in a different direction.

The research process should involve looking through a variety of sources such as books written by others, online articles, podcasts and YouTube videos, interviews, and anything else that may be relevant to your topic. This will give you a good idea of what to cover, but also what gaps in knowledge still exist.

As you research, make sure to gather all unique pieces of data into your notes. Organize the information by topic or subtopic, and make sure to include the source of each piece of information. This will be useful later when you're writing your book and need to cite your sources or refer back to specific information.

Research is a crucial step in the book-writing process, and the more time you spend doing it, the more valuable your book will be. 

It will help you to understand your topic more deeply and help you to better serve your readers. Remember, research is not just to back your claims but to improve the credibility of your book.

Use Nonfiction Story Structures

I often talk about story structure when it comes to fiction, but nonfiction books can benefit from using story structures as well. There are many different types of nonfiction story structures you can use, but here are a few examples to get you started.

  • Manipulating Time: With this structure, your story starts in the middle, and shows how you got there in flashback-type sequences. This is great if you're using your own story or something from one of your clients. It allows you to show how your protagonist got to where they are, using the principles you outlined in the book.
  • Hook, Story, Offer: This is a great framework from Russell Brunson that I like to use. It consists of three different steps: Hook, which is the thing that gets your readers interested; Story, which is the thing that connects your readers with the emotional truths you're trying to convey; and Offer, where you present the solution to the problem you outlined in your story.
  • Circular Structure: Similar to manipulating time, this structure starts at the end, and shows how you got there.
  • Parallel Structure: With this structure, you might have two or more stories that you are weaving together. They might seem separate at first, but you tie them together by the end. This is a great way of interweaving your personal story with the principles in your nonfiction book.

Using nonfiction story structures can be a great way to engage your readers and make your book more compelling. By using one of these structures, you can help your readers understand and connect with the information you're presenting in a more meaningful way.

Put it All Together

Once you have your structure in place and your notes organized, it's time to weave it all together into something coherent. 

This can be a challenging step, as you'll need to take all the information you've gathered and figure out how to present it in a logical and easy-to-understand way. 

It's important to be selective with the information you include, as you'll likely have more than you can include in your book. This means that some things may need to be left out, as hard as that may be.

Once you have that all fleshed out and ready to go, it’s time to move on to the next step…

Writing a book is the single most important step on this list, and often the hardest. So I’ve assembled a few tips to get you started.

Determine the Best Writing Software

Choose the best book writing software for individual project, consider software like Atticus, Scrivener, Ulysses and Microsoft word or Google Docs.

Atticus is the best book writing software for overall capability, including tracking software and formatting. It costs $147 as a one-time fee and works on multiple platforms. 

Plus, it is optimized for nonfiction, with certain features that make the nonfiction process SOOOOO much easier, including:

  • Endnote and Footnotes (the only budget-friendly tool to do the latter)
  • H2 – H6 Headers
  • Callout boxes
  • Hanging indents

It is my #1 recommendation for authors who want to write and format books of any kind!

Scrivener is the next best option for organization and customization, but it has a steep learning curve and costs $49 (one-time) for Mac or Windows. $19.99 for iOS devices and reduced pricing of $41.65 is available for “students & academics”.

Use Kindlepreneur’s unique discount code (KINDLEPRENEUR) to get 20% OFF your purchase.

  • Download Scrivener 3 for Mac
  • Download Scrivener 1 for Windows , which is on par with Scrivener 2 for Mac (update coming in 2021)
  • Download Scrivener 1 for iOS , which is also on par with Scrivener 2 on Mac (a handy tool for on-the-go writing with an iPad or iPhone )

Ulysses is a customizable and sleek book writing software that syncs automatically and has a drag-and-drop functionality, but only works on Apple products and costs $5.99/month or $49.99/year, but with a free 2-week trial. 

Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is industry standard for word processing, but not ideal for novel writing, often used because of its ubiquity, but it is cumbersome for writing a book, and costs $139.99 as a one-time purchase or $6.99/month for a Microsoft 365 subscription.

Write the Book Fast

When it comes to nonfiction and fiction alike, I firmly believe that getting the book out as fast as possible is the best way to go. Writing fast allows you to get the first draft on the table and start the editing process. 

Important: The goal at this stage is not to create a perfect product, but simply to get the words down so you can work with them later.

One of the main advantages of writing quickly is that it helps to overcome writer's block and other forms of procrastination. When you're not focusing on making everything perfect, it's easier to simply get words down on the page. 

It's also useful to remember that the first draft is not meant to be perfect, it's meant to be a starting point, it's where you will put down the ideas that you want to explore further, and decide which direction you want to take.

Some quick tips to write fast include

  • Set good goals
  • Work in manageable chunks
  • Develop writing habits
  • Right at the same time everyday
  • Use a timer
  • Try dictation

I have a whole list of other ways to write faster in this article.

Use Storytelling

Storytelling is often seen as something that is only relevant to fiction writing, but it's equally important in nonfiction. Stories allow you to draw readers in and make them emotionally connected with your subject matter.

There are many ways to incorporate stories into your nonfiction book. You can mine stories from your own life, the lives of your clients, history, or even current events. 

The key is to find stories that are relevant to the topic of your book and that will help to illustrate the points you're trying to make.

Keep the Writing Simple

For nonfiction, it's important to keep the language simple and easy to understand. Unless you are speaking to a highly educated audience, this will almost always be the case. 

This is because nonfiction books often have the goal of conveying information to a wide audience, which means that the language must be accessible to a general reader.

Using simple and easy-to-understand language not only makes your book more accessible to a wider audience, but it also makes it more likely that your readers will retain the information you're trying to convey. 

Avoid using jargon and technical terms that might not be familiar to your general audience. Instead, explain them in simple terms or provide definitions. 

The more complex your topic, the more you want to be able to explain that topic in simple terms.

Editing the book is when you take that rough product and polish it. It’s an important step that should be done with care.

Self-edit the Book

Let's be honest, self-editing is not everyone's favorite part of the writing process. However, it is an important step that should not be overlooked. Before you send your work to beta readers or an editor, it's a good idea to have at least one self-edit. 

This will give you an opportunity to catch any errors and make sure your ideas flow well, your arguments are tight and the book feels coherent.

The key is to approach self-editing with an open mind and a critical eye. Take the time to read through your work carefully and consider whether each sentence and paragraph adds value to the book. Look for ways to tighten up the writing, eliminate redundancy and make sure that the book is clear and easy to understand. 

Fact Check Everything

In today's age of misinformation, fact checking is more important than ever. It's crucial that the information in your nonfiction book is accurate and reliable, otherwise it risks losing credibility with your readers. 

The good news is that if you did your research well, and documented everything, this step will be greatly simplified. You should have sources and citations to back up every claim you make in your book. 

By double-checking these sources and making sure that the information is still accurate, you'll ensure that your book is reliable and trustworthy.

Send to Editors

After you've given your manuscript a thorough self-edit, it's time to send it to an editor . An editor is one of your most important resources when it comes to producing a polished and professional book. 

They can provide valuable feedback and make suggestions that will help to improve the overall quality of your manuscript.

It's important to keep in mind that editing can be one of the more expensive parts of the book writing process. However, investing in an editor's expertise is well worth the effort. 

An editor can help you to turn your manuscript into a polished and professional book that will stand out among the competition.

Send to Beta Readers

Once you have a decent product, it's time to send it out to beta readers. Beta readers are a valuable resource that can help you to identify problems you might not have thought of. 

Beta readers can also help you to understand if the stories you used in your manuscript worked and if any of them were confusing. They will give you an idea of how the general audience might receive your work. They can point out if certain parts of the manuscript are too complex or if certain sections don't flow well.

This feedback is essential to help you to make necessary adjustments before your book is ready for publication.

The penultimate step is to format your nonfiction book so it looks good. I've got one specific tool to help with this…

The best way to format your nonfiction book is using Atticus, the best formatting tool for nonfiction, given that it has multiple nonfiction-specific features that other formatting tools don't have.

Plus, it's way cheaper and easier to use than any of the other formatting tools out there.

For example, here are some of the nonfiction-specific features that you might want to use:

Subheadings

While most formatting tools have only one size of heading, Atticus has the ability to create multiple levels of headings, meaning you can have main headings, then subheadings underneath those headings, etc. Here's what that looks like:

Additionally, you can customize the size and style of each heading type, which actually means that fiction authors can make use of the headings as well.

By selecting a specific style font, you could create the illusion of a hand-written note or a text that you could use insert into your text. So headings are not just for nonfiction authors!

Here's the what the heading formatting looks like in Atticus:

Footnotes/Endnotes

Until Atticus came along, there wasn't any affordable and easy to use program that provided footnotes in books. But Atticus can!

With Atticus, you can easily add footnotes that will appear at the bottom of each page in your print edition (note: ebook editions, by necessity, default to endnotes).

In addition to footnotes, Atticus also lets you select endnotes, and let's you specify whether you want your endnotes to appear at the end of the book, or the end of each chapter.

Hanging Indents

Hanging indents are an essential piece of formatting for authors who have a lot of references. A hanging indent is used when you need to list your sources and create a bibliography.

In other words, this is an essential piece of the puzzle for any nonfiction author who needs to list their sources.

Callout Boxes

Last but not least, Atticus has Callout Boxes!

These are honestly some of my favorites.

Atticus lets you add a callout box to any selection of text, and it will show up with that callout box in ebook or in print.

You can completely customize the look of your callout boxes, as seen here:

And then, once you've got something like that, you can preview it in Atticus' device previewer, where it might look a little something like this:

Part 6: Publish & Market Your Book

Writing the book is just part of the process. With any book, but especially with nonfiction books, publishing and marketing is crucial.

Research Your Title and Subtitle

When it comes to writing a nonfiction book, finding the right title and subtitle is crucial. This is because a well-crafted title and subtitle can help to attract readers and increase the visibility of your book.

One effective way to determine your title and subtitle is by doing keyword research.

Keyword research can be done by extensively crawling through Amazon's listings. This can help you to understand what people are searching for, and what kind of titles and subtitles are most effective. 

Pro Tip: The key is to figure out what people are searching for, and use this information to choose a title and subtitle that will resonate with your target audience.

Unfortunately, manual searches can be tedious when done manually. However, there's a tool out there called Publisher Rocket that will automate this process and make it faster and easier. 

This tool can help you to analyze your competition, uncover the best keywords, and optimize your title and subtitle for maximum visibility.

Publish Your Nonfiction Book

After all the hard work of researching, writing, editing and fact-checking, it's finally time to publish your book. It can be a daunting process, but with the right guidance, it can be done seamlessly. 

If you're planning to publish your book on Amazon, I have an article that can be extremely helpful. 

It provides an in-depth guide on how to publish your book on Amazon, detailing the different options and services available, and how to use them.

Market Your Book to Your Audience

When you publish your book, make sure you  format your book correctly , nail your  back cover blurb , have a  stellar book cover  (traditional publishers will usually pay for this), and properly organize the  front matter and back matter . Hopefully, you know that you have to start marketing your book long before it hits shelves and the online marketplace. Here are some articles you can read to learn more about book marketing:

  • Book Marketing 101
  • Kindle Keywords for Self-Publishers
  • Ultimate List of the Best Book Review Blogs
  • How to Use Surveys to Sell More Books
  • Best Email Services for Authors
  • How to Sell Your Books in an Indie Bookstore

Jason Hamilton

Related posts, cyber monday deals for writers 2023, launching a book: the ultimate step by step guide, how to publish a book on amazon: the full step-by-step guide, sell more books on amazon, amazon kindle rankings e-book.

Learn how to rank your Kindle book #1 on Amazon with our collection of time-tested tips and tricks.

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How To Write A Nonfiction Book: 21 Steps for Beginners

POSTED ON Oct 14, 2020

Scott Allan

Written by Scott Allan

The steps on how to write a nonfiction book are easy to follow, but can be difficult to execute if you don't have a clear plan.

Many first time authors experience information overload when it comes to writing a nonfiction book. Where do I start? How do I build authority? What chapters do I need to include? Do I know enough about this topic?

If you're mind is racing with questions about how to get started with your book, then you’ve landed in the right place!

Writing a book can be a grueling, lengthy process. But with a strategic system in place, you could become a nonfiction book author within three to four months.

However, you need an extremely high level of motivation and dedication, as well as a clear, proven system to follow.

In this article, we’ll cover all there is to know about the nonfiction book writing process.

Need A Nonfiction Book Outline?

How to write a nonfiction book

Writing a nonfiction book is one of the most challenging paths you will ever take. But it can also be one of the most rewarding accomplishments of your life.

Before we get started with the steps to write a nonfiction book, let's review some foundational questions that many aspiring authors have.

What is a nonfiction book?

A nonfiction book is based on facts, such as real events, people, and places. It is a broad category, and includes topics such as biography, memoir, business, health, religion, self-help, science, cooking, and more.

A nonfiction book differs from a fiction book in the sense that it is real, not imaginary.

The purpose of nonfiction books is commonly to educate or inform the reader, whereas the purpose of fiction books is typically to entertain.

Perennial nonfiction books are titles such as How to Win Friends and Influence People from Dale Carnegie, A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, and Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl .

Perennial Nonfiction Books

What is the author’s purpose in a work of nonfiction?

In a nonfiction book, the author’s main purpose or reason for writing on the topic is to inform or educate readers about a certain topic.

While there are some nonfiction books that also entertain readers, the most common author's purpose in a work of nonfiction is to raise awareness about a certain topic, event, or concept.

Nonfiction Authors Purpose

How many words are in a nonfiction book?

Because nonfiction is such a broad category, it really depends on the type of nonfiction you are writing, but generally a nonfiction book should be about 40,000 words.

To determine how many words in a novel , narrow down your topic and do some research to see what the average word count is.

Use this Word & Page Count Calculator to calculate how many words you should aim for, based on your genre and audience.

How long does it take to write a nonfiction book?

It can take anywhere from three months to several years to write a nonfiction book, depending on the author's speed, research process, book length, and other variables.

On average, it can take a self-published author typically six months to one year to write their nonfiction book. However, that means the author is setting time aside daily to work on their book, staying focused, and motivated.

Other nonfiction authors, especially those with heavy research an in–depth analysis can take much longer. How long it takes to write a nonfiction book really just depends on several factors.

Benefits of writing a nonfiction book

Making a decision to write a book could change your life. Just think about all the ways you could leverage your expertise!

If you’re interested in how to write a book , it’s important to understand all the things writing the book can do for you, so that you can stay motivated throughout the process.

Writing Nonfiction Books Benefits

Some rewarding results that can come after you write a nonfiction book are:

  • Exponentially accelerate the growth of your business
  • Generate a stream of passive income for years to come
  • Build authority in your field of expertise
  • Increase exposure in the media
  • Become a motivational speaker
  • …and so much more (this is just the beginning)!

Imagine for a moment …walking into your local bookstore and seeing your book placed at the front of the store in the new releases section. Or browsing on Amazon KDP , the world’s largest online bookstore, and seeing your nonfiction book listed as a bestseller alongside well-known authors.

It can happen in as little as three months if you are fully committed and ready to start today.

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How to Write a Nonfiction Book in 21 Steps

You're clear on the type of nonfiction book you want to write, and you're ready to get started.

Before you start writing, it's time to lay the groundwork and get clear on the entire process. This will help you manage your book writing expectations, and prepare for the nonfiction book writing journey that lies ahead.

With those foundational questions out of the way, let’s move on to 21-step checklist so you can start learning exactly how to write a nonfiction book.

#1— Develop the mindset to learn how to write a nonfiction book

The first step in how to become an author is to develop a rock solid author mindset. Without a writer’s mindset, you are going to struggle to get anywhere with your book. Writing has more to do with your attitude towards the craft than the skill required to get you there.

If writing words down and tying sentences together to craft a story is the skill, your mindset is the foundation that keeps this motivation moving forward.

Identifying yourself as a writer from the start (even if you haven't published yet) will form the mindset needed to continue working on your book .

To succeed, you must toughen up so that nothing gets in your way of writing.

This is also known as imposter syndrome : A psychological pattern where a person doubts their accomplishments and has an ongoing internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.

Here’s how to prevent imposter syndrome as an aspiring author:

  • Define what it means to be an author or writer. Is this someone who wakes up at 5am and writes 1000 words a day?
  • Tell yourself you’re a writer. Just do it. It feels strange at first but you will begin to believe your own self-talk.
  • Talk about your book idea . That’s right – start telling people you are writing a book. Many writers working on a book will keep it a secret until published. Even then, they might not about it.
  • Take action to build author confidence. Imposter syndrome paralyzes you. Focus on increasing your author confidence and getting rid of doubt. This can be done by committing to writing every day. Just 500 words is enough. Build that writing habits early and you’ll be walking and talking like a true author.

#2 – Create a Book Writing Plan

Excuses will kill your chances of becoming a published author. There are no good reasons for not writing a book, only good excuses you convince yourself are real.

You are trying to protect yourself from embarrassment, only to create a new kind of shame: the shame of not finishing the book you have been talking about for years.

Some of the most common excuses that hold writers back are: There is no time to write in my life right now. I can't get past my distractions. I can never be as good as my favorite famous author. My book has to perfect.

Excuses are easy to dish out. But identifying them for what they are (excuses), is the first step towards taking action and changing your limiting mindset.

Excuses, while they may seem valid, are walls of fear. Banish your excuses right now and commit to writing your book.

Here's how to overcome the excuses that prevent you from writing:

  • Make the time to write. Set up a thirty-minute time block every day. Commit to writing during this time.
  • Turn off your distractions. Get rid of the WiFi for an hour. Close the door. It is just you and the story.
  • Be aware of comparisons to other writers. They worked hard to get where they are, and you will get there, too.
  • Give yourself permission to write badly. It won’t be perfect, but a book that is half-finished can’t be published.

#3 – Identify your WHY

Start with this question: “Why am I doing this?”

Know your why . This is critical to moving ahead with your book idea. We usually have an intrinsic and extrinsic reason for wanting to learn how to write a nonfiction book.

Intrinsic Why: What is your #1 reason for wanting to write this book? Is it a bucket list goal you must achieve? Is it to help people overcome a root issue in their lives? Do you want to create a movement and generate social impact?

Extrinsic Why: Do you want to create a business from your book? Have passive income coming in for many years later? Become a full-time author and work from home? Grow your network? Build an online presence?

Getting super clear on why you want to write a bestselling book is the momentum to propel you forward and deliver your story. Enlisting the help of a book writing coach (like we offer here at SelfPublishing!) can also help you stay close to your why. This person will be your sounding board, motivation, and voice of reason during the writing process – providing much-needed support from someone who's published multiple books before.

#4 – Research nonfiction book topics

Whether you have a clear idea of what you want to write about or if you are still exploring possible topic ideas, it's important to do a bit of market research.

Nonfiction Book Research

Researching the current news and case studies related to your potential topic are powerful ways to add credibility to your nonfiction book, and will help you develop your own ideas.

This adds greater depth to your nonfiction book, builds better trust with readers, and delivers content that exceeds customer expectations.

If you need help narrowing down your book idea, try experimenting with some writing prompts based on the genre you're interested in!

Here's how to write a nonfiction book that's well-researched:

  • Use case studies. Pull case studies and make reference to the research. If there are not any case studies related to your topic, explore the idea of creating your own case study.
  • Read books related to your topic. Mention good books or articles to support your material.
  • Research facts from reliable sources. Post proven facts and figures from reliable sources such as scholarly journals, academic papers, white papers, newspapers, and more.

#5 – Select a nonfiction book topic

What are you writing about? It starts with having a deep interest and passion for the area you are focused on.

Common topics to write a nonfiction book on are:

  • Business and Money
  • Health, dieting and exercise
  • Religion and Spirituality
  • Home repair
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship

You probably already know this so it should be easy. Make a note of the area you are writing your book on. And then…

#6 — Drill down into your book idea

Everyone starts at the same place. It begins with an idea for the book.

What is the core idea for your book? If your nonfiction book topic is on health and dieting, your idea might be a book on “How to lose 7 pounds in your first month.”

Your book is going to be centered around this core idea.

You could have several ideas for the overall book but, to avoid writing a large, general book that nobody will read, make it more specific.

#7 — Schedule writing time

What gets scheduled, gets done. That’s right, you should schedule in your writing time just like any other appointment on your calendar.

Your writing routine will have a large role to play when it comes to writing and finishing your book.

Stephen King Writing Routine

Scheduling time for writing, and sticking to it, will help you knock out your writing goals with ease.

Stephen King sits down to write every morning from eight-thirty. It was his way of programming his brain to get ready for the day’s work. He writes an average of ten pages a day.

W.H. Auden would rise at six a.m. and would work hard from seven to eleven-thirty, when his mind was sharpest.

When do you feel the most productive? If you can, make time for writing at the same time every day to set the tone for your writing productivity.

YouTube video

Commit to a time of day and a length of time during which to write. Set a goal for yourself and try to hit the target every day by sticking with your routine.

#8 — Establish a writing space

You need a place to write, and you must establish that space where you can write everyday, distraction-free for several hours a day.

Your writing environment plays a critical role in your life as an author. If you write in a place that’s full of noise, uncomfortable to be in, or affects your emotional state to the point you don’t want to do anything, you might consider your environment needs some work.

Create A Writing Space

Here is how to create a writing space that inspires you to write:

Display your favorite author photos

Find at least twenty photos of authors you want to emulate. Print these out if you can and place them around your room. An alternative idea is to use the photos as screensavers or a desktop screen. You can change the photo every day if you like. There is nothing like writing and having your favorite author looking back at you as if to say, “Come on, you’ve got this!”

Hang up a yearly calendar

Your nonfiction book will get written faster if you have goals for each day and week. The best way to manage this is by scheduling your time on a calendar. Schedule every hour that you commit to your author business.

As Bob Goff said, “The battle for happiness begins on the pages of our calendars.”

Buy a big wall calendar. Have enough space on each day that you can write down your goals for that day. When you have a goal for that day or week, write it down or use a sticky note.

Create a clutter-free environment

If there is any one factor that will slow you down or kill your motivation, it is a room full of clutter.

If your room looks like a tornado swept through, it can have a serious impact on your emotional state. What you see around you also occupies space in your mind. Unfinished business is unconsciously recorded in your mind and this leads to clutter (both physical and mental).

Although you can’t always be in complete control of your physical space, you can get rid of any clutter you have control over. Go for a simple workplace that makes you feel relaxed.

Choose a writing surface and chair

Consider a standing desk, which is becoming popular for many reasons. Sitting down for long periods of time becomes uncomfortable and unhealthy. You can balance your online time between sitting and standing.

For sitting, you want a chair that is comfortable, but not too comfortable. Invest in a chair that requires you to sit up straight. If there is a comfortable back attached, as with most chairs, you have a tendency to get sleepy. This can trigger other habits as well, such as craving television.

Seek out the place where you can be at your most productive and feel confident and comfortable.

#9 — Choose a nonfiction book writing software

This is one of the most important writing tools you will choose. Your writing software needs to be efficient, easy to use and stress-free. Anything that requires a lot of formatting or a steep learning curve could end up costing you time and patience.

There are literally dozens of choices for book writing software , so it's really just a matter of finding what works best for you.

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Here are 3 writing software for new authors to consider:

  • Microsoft Word. Before any other writing tools came along, Microsoft Word was the only option available. Today, even though there are many other word processors out there, millions of people continue to use it for their writing needs. And it’s easy to see why. It’s trusted, reliable, and gets the job done well .
  • Google Docs . It's a stripped-down version of Word that you can only use online. Some perks are that it comes with the built-in ability to share content, files, and documents with your team. You can easily communicate via comments for collaboration. If you write your book in Google Docs, you can share the link with anyone and they can edit , or make any changes right in the document itself. And all changes are trackable!
  • Scrivener . A lot of writers absolutely love this program, with its advanced features and distraction-free writing experience. Scrivener was designed for writers; it’s super easy to lay out scenes, move content around, and outline your story, article, or manuscript. If you’re serious about learning how to write a nonfiction book, then putting in the time to learn this writing tool will definitely be worth it.

There are many forms of writing software that all have advantages to using them, but once you find what works for you, stick with it.

#10 — Create your mind map

A mind map is a brain dump of all your ideas. Using your theme and core idea as a basic starting point, your mind map will help you to visually organize everything into a structure for the book.

I highly recommend using pen and paper for this. You will enjoy the creative flow of this process with a physical version of the map rather than mind mapping software. But, if you prefer using an app to create your mindmap , you can try MindMeister .

Here is how to create your mind map:

  • Start with your central idea. Write this idea in the center of the map.
  • Add branches connecting key ideas that flow out from the core idea.
  • Add keywords that tie these key ideas together.
  • Using color coded markers or sticky notes, and identify the chapters within your mindmap.
  • Take your chapter headings and…

#11 — How to write a nonfiction book outline

Now that your book topic is decided on, and you have mind mapped your ideas, it’s time to start determining how to outline a nonfiction book.

There are several ways to create a book outline , and it really boils down to author preference and style.

Here's how to write a nonfiction book outline:

  • Use this Book Outline Generator for a helpful template to follow for your own outline.
  • Map out your book's topics with a mindmap or bubble map, then organize similar concepts together into chapters.
  • Answer the 5 Ws: Who, What, When, Where, Why.
  • Use book writing software outline tools, like Scrivener's corkboard method.

YouTube video

What is a nonfiction book outline?

A book outline is a roadmap or blueprint for your story. It tells you where you need to go and when in chronological order.

Take the common themes of your chapters and, if applicable, divide your chapters into sections. This is your smooth transition from tangled mind map to organized outline.

Note that not every book needs sections; you might have chapters only. But if your chapters can be grouped into 3-6 different themes within the book, create a section for those common-themed chapters and group them together into a section.

The outline needs to be easy to follow and generally no more than a couple pages long.

The goal here is to take your mind map and consolidate your ideas into a structure that makes logical sense . This will be an incredible roadmap to follow when you are writing the book.

No outline = writing chaos.

There are two types of book outlines I will introduce here:

Option 1: Simple Nonfiction Book Outline

A simple book outline is just like it sounds; keep it basic and brief. Start with the title, then add in your major sections in the order that makes sense for your topic.

Don’t get too hung up on the perfect title at this stage of the process ; you just want to come up with a good-for-now placeholder.

Use our Nonfiction Book Title Generator for ideas.

Option 2: Chapter-by-Chapter Nonfiction Book Outline

Your chapter-by-chapter book outline is a pumped-up version of the simple book outline.

To get started, first create a complete chapter list. With each chapter listed as a heading, you’ll later add material or move chapters around as the draft takes shape.

Create a working title for each chapter. List them in a logical order. After that, you’ll fill in the key points of each chapter.

Create a mind map for each chapter to outline a nonfiction book

Now that you have a list of your chapters, take each one and, similar to what you did with your main mind map for the book, apply this same technique to each chapter.

You want to mind map 3-7 ideas to cover in each chapter. These points will become the subtopics of each chapter that functions to make up chapter structure in your nonfiction book.

It is important to not get hung up on the small details of the chapter content at this stage. Simply make a list of your potential chapters. The outline will most likely change as you write the book. You can tweak the details as you go.

#12 — Determine your point of view

The language can be less formal if you are learning how to write a self-help book or another similar nonfiction book. This is because you are teaching a topic based on your own perspective and not necessarily on something based in scientific research.

Discovering your voice and writing style is as easy as being yourself, but it’s also a tough challenge.

Books that have a more conversational tone to them are just as credible as books with more profound language. You just have to keep your intended audience in mind when deciding what kind of tone you want to have in your book.

The easiest way to do this is to simply write as you would talk, as if you were explaining your topic to someone in front of you – maybe a friend.

Your reader will love this because it will feel like you are sitting with them, having a cup of coffee, hanging out and chatting about your favorite topic.

How To Write A Nonfiction Book Infograph

#13 — Write your first chapter

As soon as you have your nonfiction book outline ready, you want to build momentum right away. The best way to start this is to dive right into your first chapter.

You can start anywhere you like. You don’t have to start writing your nonfiction book in chronological order.

Take a chapter and, if you haven’t yet done so, spend a few minutes to brainstorm the main speaking points. These points are to be your chapter subheadings.

You already have the best software for writing, you’re all set in your writing environment, now you can start writing.

But wait…feeling stuck already?

That’s okay. You might want to start off with some free flow writing. Take a blank page and just start writing down your thoughts. Don’t think about what you are writing or if it makes any sense. This technique is designed to open up your mind to the flow of writing, or stream of consciousness

Write for 10-15 minutes until you are warmed up.

Next, dive into your chapter content.

#14 — Write a nonfiction book first draft

The major step in how to write a nonfiction book is – well, to actually write the first draft!

In this step, you are going to write the first draft of your book. All of it. Notice we did not say you were going to write and edit . No, you are only writing.

Do not edit while you write, and if you can fight temptation, do not read what you’ve written until the first draft is complete.

This seems like a long stretch, to write a 30-40,000-word book without reading it over, but…it’s important to tap into your creative mind and stay there during the writing phase.

It is difficult to access both your writing brain and editing brain at the same time. By sticking with the process of “write first, edit later,” you will finish your first draft faster and feel confident moving into the self-editing phase.

To learn how to write a nonfiction book, use this format:

  • Mind map your chapter —10 minutes
  • Outline/chapter subheadings—10 minutes
  • Research [keep it light]—20 Minutes
  • Write content—90 minutes

After you're done with your rough draft (first draft) you'll move on to the second draft/rewrite of your book when you will improve the organization, add more details, and create a polished draft before sending the manuscript to the editor.

#15 — Destroy writer’s block

At some point along the writer’s journey, you are going to get stuck. It is inevitable.

It is what we call the “messy middle” and, regardless you are writing fiction or nonfiction, it happens to everyone. You were feeling super-pumped to get this book written but halfway through, it begins to feel like an insurmountable mountain that you’ll never conquer.

Writer’s block is what happens when you hit a wall and struggle to move forward.

Here is what you can do when you find yourself being pulled down that dark hole.

Talk back to the voices trying to overpower your mind. Your internal critic is empowered when you believe what you are listening to is true.

Bring in the writer who has brought you this far – the one who took the initiative to learn how to write a nonfiction book. Be the writer that embraces fear and laughs at perfectionistic tendencies. Be that person that writes something even if it doesn’t sound good. Let yourself make mistakes and give yourself permission to fail.

Use positive affirmations are therapy for removing internal criticism.

Defeat the self-doubt by not owning it. Your fears exist in your mind. The book you are writing is great, and it will be finished.

Now, go finish it…

#16 — Reach out to nonfiction book editors

Before you start your second rewrite, consider reaching out to an editor and lining someone up to professionally edit your book. Then, when you have completed your self-editing process, you can send your book to the editor as quickly as possible.

Just as producing a manuscript involves a varied skill set—writing, formatting, cover design, etc.— so does editing it.

Do not skimp on quality when it come to editing – set aside money in your budget when determining the costs to publish your book .

Getting a quality edit should be the #1 expenditure for your book. It doesn’t matter if you think you’re a fantastic writer—we all make small mistakes that are difficult to catch, even after reading through the book several times.

You can find good editors on sites such as Upwork or through recommendations from other authors.

#17— Self-edit your first draft

You completed the major step in how to write a nonfiction book: You’re rough draft is finished. Now it is time to go through your content page per page, line per line, and clean it up.

This is where is gets messy. This is the self-editing stage and is the most critical part of the book writing process.

You can print out the entire manuscript and read through it in a weekend. Arm yourself with a red pen and several highlighters. You’ll be marking up sentences and writing on the page.

Start with a verbal read through.

Yes, actually read your draft out loud to yourself; you'll be surprised how reading it verbally allows you to spot certain mistakes or areas for improvement.

A verbal read through will show you:

  • Any awkward phrasing you’ve used
  • What doesn’t make sense
  • Typos (the more mistakes you find, the less an editor will accidentally overlook)

Questions to ask as you self-edit your nonfiction book:

  • What part of the book is unclear or vague?
  • Can the “outsider” understand the point to this section without being told?
  • Is my language clear and concrete?
  • Can I add more detail or take detail out?
  • Can the reader feel my passion for writing and for the topic I am exploring?
  • What is the best part of this section and how can I make the other parts as good as the best section?
  • Do I have good transitions between chapters?

For printed out material take lots of notes and correct each page as you go. Or break it down by paragraphs and make sure the content flows and transitions well.

Take 2-3 weeks for the self editing stage. The goal isn’t to make it perfect, but to have a presentable manuscript for the editor.

If you let perfection slip in, you could be self-editing and rewriting six months from now. You want to get your best book published, but not have it take three years to get there.

And, when the self edit is finished…

#18 — Create a nonfiction title

The title and subtitle is critical to getting noticed in any physical or online bookstore, such as Amazon.

Related: Nonfiction Book Title Generator

Set aside a few hours to work on crafting your perfect title and subtitle. Keep in mind that needs to engage your potential readers to buy the book.

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The title is by far one of the critical elements of the books’ success .

Here are the main points to consider when creating a nonfiction book title:

  • Habit Stacking
  • Example#1: Break the Cycle of Self-Defeat, Destroy Negative Emotions and Reclaim Your Personal Power
  • Example#2: How to Save More Money, Slash Your Spending, and Master Your Spending

Write down as many title ideas as you can. Then, mix and match, moving keywords around until you come up with a title that “sticks.”

Next, test your title by reaching out for feedback – this can be from anyone in your author network. Don’t have an author community to reach out to?

Consider attending some of the best writers conferences to start networking with other writers and authors!

You can also test your title on sites like PickFu .

#19 — Send your nonfiction book to the editor

In a previous step, you hired your editor. Now you are going to send your book to the editor. This process should take about 2-3 weeks. Most editors will do two revisions.

When you receive your first revision, take a few days to go through the edits with track changes turned on. Carefully consider the suggestions your editor is making.

If you don’t agree with some of the suggested edits, delete them! Your editors don’t know your nonfiction book as well as you do.

So, while expert feedback is essential to creating a polished, professional-quality book, have some faith in yourself and your writing.

Now that the editing is done, you are preparing for the final stage…

#20 — Hire a proofreader

Even with the best of editors, there are often minor errors—typos, punctuation—that get missed. This is why you should consider hiring a proofreader—not your editor—to read through the book and catch any last errors.

You don’t want these mistakes to be picked up by readers and then posted as negative reviews.

You can find proofreaders to hire in your local area, or online, such as Scribendi Proofreaders or ProofreadingServices.com

Some great proofreading apps to use are Grammarly and Hemingway Editor App .

When you are satisfied that the book is 100% error free and stands up to the best standard of quality, it is time to…

#21 — Hire a formatter

Congratulations…you’re almost there! Hiring your book formatter is one of the final stages before publishing.

Nothing can ruin a good book like bad formatting. A well-formatted book enhances your reader's experience and keeps those pages being turned.

Be sure that you have clear chapter headings and that, wherever possible, the chapter is broken up into subheadings.

You can hire good formatters at places like Archangelink , Ebook Launch , and Formatted Books .

Here are the key pages to include in your nonfiction book:

Front Matter Content

  • Copyright page
  • Free gift page with a link to the opt-in page (optional)
  • Table of contents
  • Foreword (optional)

Back Matter Content

  • Lead magnet [reminder]
  • Work with me (optional)
  • Acknowledgements (optional)
  • Upcoming books [optional]

Now, work together with your formatter and communicate clearly the vision for your book. Be certain your formatter has clear instructions and be closely involved in this process until it is finished.

You know how to write a nonfiction book!

Now that you know the entire process to write your book, it's time to move on to the next phase: publishing and launching your book!

For publishing, you have two options: traditional publishing and self publishing. If you’re completely new to the book writing scene, you may want to check out this article which goes over self publishing .

If you’re deciding between self publishing vs traditional publishing , do some research to choose the right option for you.

Once you get to the marketing phase, be sure to use the Book Profit Calculator to set realistic goals and get your book into the hands of as many readers as possible!

Take some time to celebrate your accomplishing of learning how to write a nonfiction book, then get to work on publishing and launching that book!

What questions do you still have on how to write a nonfiction book?

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Writers.com

What is creative nonfiction? Despite its slightly enigmatic name, no literary genre has grown quite as quickly as creative nonfiction in recent decades. Literary nonfiction is now well-established as a powerful means of storytelling, and bookstores now reserve large amounts of space for nonfiction, when it often used to occupy a single bookshelf.

Like any literary genre, creative nonfiction has a long history; also like other genres, defining contemporary CNF for the modern writer can be nuanced. If you’re interested in writing true-to-life stories but you’re not sure where to begin, let’s start by dissecting the creative nonfiction genre and what it means to write a modern literary essay.

What Creative Nonfiction Is

Creative nonfiction employs the creative writing techniques of literature, such as poetry and fiction, to retell a true story.

How do we define creative nonfiction? What makes it “creative,” as opposed to just “factual writing”? These are great questions to ask when entering the genre, and they require answers which could become literary essays themselves.

In short, creative nonfiction (CNF) is a form of storytelling that employs the creative writing techniques of literature, such as poetry and fiction, to retell a true story. Creative nonfiction writers don’t just share pithy anecdotes, they use craft and technique to situate the reader into their own personal lives. Fictional elements, such as character development and narrative arcs, are employed to create a cohesive story, but so are poetic elements like conceit and juxtaposition.

The CNF genre is wildly experimental, and contemporary nonfiction writers are pushing the bounds of literature by finding new ways to tell their stories. While a CNF writer might retell a personal narrative, they might also focus their gaze on history, politics, or they might use creative writing elements to write an expository essay. There are very few limits to what creative nonfiction can be, which is what makes defining the genre so difficult—but writing it so exciting.

Different Forms of Creative Nonfiction

From the autobiographies of Mark Twain and Benvenuto Cellini, to the more experimental styles of modern writers like Karl Ove Knausgård, creative nonfiction has a long history and takes a wide variety of forms. Common iterations of the creative nonfiction genre include the following:

Also known as biography or autobiography, the memoir form is probably the most recognizable form of creative nonfiction. Memoirs are collections of memories, either surrounding a single narrative thread or multiple interrelated ideas. The memoir is usually published as a book or extended piece of fiction, and many memoirs take years to write and perfect. Memoirs often take on a similar writing style as the personal essay does, though it must be personable and interesting enough to encourage the reader through the entire book.

Personal Essay

Personal essays are stories about personal experiences told using literary techniques.

When someone hears the word “essay,” they instinctively think about those five paragraph book essays everyone wrote in high school. In creative nonfiction, the personal essay is much more vibrant and dynamic. Personal essays are stories about personal experiences, and while some personal essays can be standalone stories about a single event, many essays braid true stories with extended metaphors and other narratives.

Personal essays are often intimate, emotionally charged spaces. Consider the opening two paragraphs from Beth Ann Fennelly’s personal essay “ I Survived the Blizzard of ’79. ”

We didn’t question. Or complain. It wouldn’t have occurred to us, and it wouldn’t have helped. I was eight. Julie was ten.

We didn’t know yet that this blizzard would earn itself a moniker that would be silk-screened on T-shirts. We would own such a shirt, which extended its tenure in our house as a rag for polishing silver.

The word “essay” comes from the French “essayer,” which means “to try” or “attempt.” The personal essay is more than just an autobiographical narrative—it’s an attempt to tell your own history with literary techniques.

Lyric Essay

The lyric essay contains similar subject matter as the personal essay, but is much more experimental in form.

The lyric essay contains similar subject matter as the personal essay, with one key distinction: lyric essays are much more experimental in form. Poetry and creative nonfiction merge in the lyric essay, challenging the conventional prose format of paragraphs and linear sentences.

The lyric essay stands out for its unique writing style and sentence structure. Consider these lines from “ Life Code ” by J. A. Knight:

The dream goes like this: blue room of water. God light from above. Child’s fist, foot, curve, face, the arc of an eye, the symmetry of circles… and then an opening of this body—which surprised her—a movement so clean and assured and then the push towards the light like a frog or a fish.

What we get is language driven by emotion, choosing an internal logic rather than a universally accepted one.

Lyric essays are amazing spaces to break barriers in language. For example, the lyricist might write a few paragraphs about their story, then examine a key emotion in the form of a villanelle or a ghazal. They might decide to write their entire essay in a string of couplets or a series of sonnets, then interrupt those stanzas with moments of insight or analysis. In the lyric essay, language dictates form. The successful lyricist lets the words arrange themselves in whatever format best tells the story, allowing for experimental new forms of storytelling.

Literary Journalism

Much more ambiguously defined is the idea of literary journalism. The idea is simple: report on real life events using literary conventions and styles. But how do you do this effectively, in a way that the audience pays attention and takes the story seriously?

You can best find examples of literary journalism in more “prestigious” news journals, such as The New Yorker , The Atlantic , Salon , and occasionally The New York Times . Think pieces about real world events, as well as expository journalism, might use braiding and extended metaphors to make readers feel more connected to the story. Other forms of nonfiction, such as the academic essay or more technical writing, might also fall under literary journalism, provided those pieces still use the elements of creative nonfiction.

Consider this recently published article from The Atlantic : The Uncanny Tale of Shimmel Zohar by Lawrence Weschler. It employs a style that’s breezy yet personable—including its opening line.

So I first heard about Shimmel Zohar from Gravity Goldberg—yeah, I know, but she insists it’s her real name (explaining that her father was a physicist)—who is the director of public programs and visitor experience at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, in San Francisco.

How to Write Creative Nonfiction: Common Elements and Techniques

What separates a general news update from a well-written piece of literary journalism? What’s the difference between essay writing in high school and the personal essay? When nonfiction writers put out creative work, they are most successful when they utilize the following elements.

Just like fiction, nonfiction relies on effective narration. Telling the story with an effective plot, writing from a certain point of view, and using the narrative to flesh out the story’s big idea are all key craft elements. How you structure your story can have a huge impact on how the reader perceives the work, as well as the insights you draw from the story itself.

Consider the first lines of the story “ To the Miami University Payroll Lady ” by Frenci Nguyen:

You might not remember me, but I’m the dark-haired, Texas-born, Asian-American graduate student who visited the Payroll Office the other day to complete direct deposit and tax forms.

Because the story is written in second person, with the reader experiencing the story as the payroll lady, the story’s narration feels much more personal and important, forcing the reader to evaluate their own personal biases and beliefs.

Observation

Telling the story involves more than just simple plot elements, it also involves situating the reader in the key details. Setting the scene requires attention to all five senses, and interpersonal dialogue is much more effective when the narrator observes changes in vocal pitch, certain facial expressions, and movements in body language. Essentially, let the reader experience the tiny details – we access each other best through minutiae.

The story “ In Transit ” by Erica Plouffe Lazure is a perfect example of storytelling through observation. Every detail of this flash piece is carefully noted to tell a story without direct action, using observations about group behavior to find hope in a crisis. We get observation when the narrator notes the following:

Here at the St. Thomas airport in mid-March, we feel the urgency of the transition, the awareness of how we position our bodies, where we place our luggage, how we consider for the first time the numbers of people whose belongings are placed on the same steel table, the same conveyor belt, the same glowing radioactive scan, whose IDs are touched by the same gloved hand[.]

What’s especially powerful about this story is that it is written in a single sentence, allowing the reader to be just as overwhelmed by observation and context as the narrator is.

We’ve used this word a lot, but what is braiding? Braiding is a technique most often used in creative nonfiction where the writer intertwines multiple narratives, or “threads.” Not all essays use braiding, but the longer a story is, the more it benefits the writer to intertwine their story with an extended metaphor or another idea to draw insight from.

“ The Crush ” by Zsofia McMullin demonstrates braiding wonderfully. Some paragraphs are written in first person, while others are written in second person.

The following example from “The Crush” demonstrates braiding:

Your hair is still wet when you slip into the booth across from me and throw your wallet and glasses and phone on the table, and I marvel at how everything about you is streamlined, compact, organized. I am always overflowing — flesh and wants and a purse stuffed with snacks and toy soldiers and tissues.

The author threads these narratives together by having both people interact in a diner, yet the reader still perceives a distance between the two threads because of the separation of “I” and “you” pronouns. When these threads meet, briefly, we know they will never meet again.

Speaking of insight, creative nonfiction writers must draw novel conclusions from the stories they write. When the narrator pauses in the story to delve into their emotions, explain complex ideas, or draw strength and meaning from tough situations, they’re finding insight in the essay.

Often, creative writers experience insight as they write it, drawing conclusions they hadn’t yet considered as they tell their story, which makes creative nonfiction much more genuine and raw.

The story “ Me Llamo Theresa ” by Theresa Okokun does a fantastic job of finding insight. The story is about the history of our own names and the generations that stand before them, and as the writer explores her disconnect with her own name, she recognizes a similar disconnect in her mother, as well as the need to connect with her name because of her father.

The narrator offers insight when she remarks:

I began to experience a particular type of identity crisis that so many immigrants and children of immigrants go through — where we are called one name at school or at work, but another name at home, and in our hearts.

How to Write Creative Nonfiction: the 5 R’s

CNF pioneer Lee Gutkind developed a very system called the “5 R’s” of creative nonfiction writing. Together, the 5 R’s form a general framework for any creative writing project. They are:

  • Write about r eal life: Creative nonfiction tackles real people, events, and places—things that actually happened or are happening.
  • Conduct extensive r esearch: Learn as much as you can about your subject matter, to deepen and enrich your ability to relay the subject matter. (Are you writing about your tenth birthday? What were the newspaper headlines that day?)
  • (W) r ite a narrative: Use storytelling elements originally from fiction, such as Freytag’s Pyramid , to structure your CNF piece’s narrative as a story with literary impact rather than just a recounting.
  • Include personal r eflection: Share your unique voice and perspective on the narrative you are retelling.
  • Learn by r eading: The best way to learn to write creative nonfiction well is to read it being written well. Read as much CNF as you can, and observe closely how the author’s choices impact you as a reader.

You can read more about the 5 R’s in this helpful summary article .

How to Write Creative Nonfiction: Give it a Try!

Whatever form you choose, whatever story you tell, and whatever techniques you write with, the more important aspect of creative nonfiction is this: be honest. That may seem redundant, but often, writers mistakenly create narratives that aren’t true, or they use details and symbols that didn’t exist in the story. Trust us – real life is best read when it’s honest, and readers can tell when details in the story feel fabricated or inflated. Write with honesty, and the right words will follow!

Ready to start writing your creative nonfiction piece? If you need extra guidance or want to write alongside our community, take a look at the upcoming nonfiction classes at Writers.com. Now, go and write the next bestselling memoir!

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Sean Glatch

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Thank you so much for including these samples from Hippocampus Magazine essays/contributors; it was so wonderful to see these pieces reflected on from the craft perspective! – Donna from Hippocampus

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Absolutely, Donna! I’m a longtime fan of Hippocampus and am always astounded by the writing you publish. We’re always happy to showcase stunning work 🙂

[…] Source: https://www.masterclass.com/articles/a-complete-guide-to-writing-creative-nonfiction#5-creative-nonfiction-writing-promptshttps://writers.com/what-is-creative-nonfiction […]

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So impressive

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Thank you. I’ve been researching a number of figures from the 1800’s and have come across a large number of ‘biographies’ of figures. These include quoted conversations which I knew to be figments of the author and yet some works are lauded as ‘histories’.

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excellent guidelines inspiring me to write CNF thank you

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, understanding the 4 writing styles: how to identify and use them.

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General Education

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A piece’s writing style can help you figure out what kind of writing it is, what its purpose is, and how the author’s voice is unique. With so many different types of writing, you may think it’s difficult to figure out the specific writing style of a piece or you'll need to search through a long list of writing styles.

However, there are actually just four main types of writing styles, and together they cover practically all the writing you see, from textbooks to novels, to billboards and more.  Whether you’re studying writing styles for class or trying to develop your own writing style and looking for information, we’ve got you covered.

In this guide, we explain the four styles of writing, provide examples for each one, go over the one thing you need to know to identify writing style, and give tips to help you develop your own unique style of writing.

The 4 Types of Writing

There are four main different styles of writing. We discuss each of them below, list where you’re likely to see them, and include an example so you can see for yourself what each of the writing styles looks like.

Writers who use the narrative style are telling a story with a plot and characters. It’s the most common writing style for fiction, although nonfiction can also be narrative writing as long as its focus is on characters, what they do, and what happens to them.

Common Places You’d See Narrative Writing

  • Biography or autobiography
  • Short stories
  • Journals or diaries

“We had luncheon in the dining-room, darkened too against the heat, and drank down nervous gayety with the cold ale. ‘What’ll we do with ourselves this afternoon?’ cried Daisy, ‘and the day after that, and the next thirty years?’    ‘Don’t be morbid,’ Jordan said. ‘Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.’ ‘But it’s so hot,’ insisted Daisy, on the verge of tears, ‘and everything’s so confused. Let’s all go to town!’ - The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

You can quickly tell that this passage from the novel The Great Gatsby is an example of narrative writing because it has the two key traits: characters and a plot. The group is discussing eating and drinking while trying to decide what to do for the rest of the day.

As in this example, narrative writing often has extended dialogue scenes since the dialogue is used to move the plot along and give readers greater insight into the characters.

Writers use the expository style when they are trying to explain a concept. Expository writing is fact-based and doesn’t include the author’s opinions or background. It’s basically giving facts from the writer to the reader.

Common Places You’d See Expository Writing

  • Newspaper articles
  • Academic journals
  • Business memos
  • Manuals for electronics
  • How-to books and articles

“The 1995/1996 reintroduction of gray wolves (Canis lupus) into Yellowstone National Park after a 70 year absence has allowed for studies of tri-trophic cascades involving wolves, elk (Cervus elaphus), and plant species such as aspen (Populus tremuloides), cottonwoods (Populus spp.), and willows (Salix spp.). To investigate the status of this cascade, in September of 2010 we repeated an earlier survey of aspen and measured browsing and heights of young aspen in 97 stands along four streams in the Lamar River catchment of the park’s northern winter range. We found that browsing on the five tallest young aspen in each stand decreased from 100% of all measured leaders in 1998 to means of <25% in the uplands and <20% in riparian areas by 2010. Correspondingly, aspen recruitment (i.e., growth of seedlings/sprouts above the browse level of ungulates) increased as browsing decreased over time in these same stands.” -”Trophic cascades in Yellowstone: The first 15 years after wolf reintroduction” by William J. Ripple and Robert L. Beschta

This abstract from an academic journal article is clearly expository because it only focuses on facts. The authors aren’t giving their opinion of wolves of Yellowstone, they’re not telling a story about the wolves, and the only descriptions are number of trees, streams, etc. so readers can understand the study better.

Because expository writing is focused on facts, without any unnecessary details or stories, the writing can sometimes feel dense and dry to read.

Descriptive

Descriptive writing is, as you may guess, when the author describes something. The writer could be describing a place, person, or an object, but descriptive writing will always include lots of details so the reader can get a clear and complete idea of what is being written about.

Common Places You’d See Descriptive Writing

  • Fiction passages that describe something

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or eat: it was a hobbit hole and that means comfort. It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with panelled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted...” - The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

This is the opening passage of the novel The Hobbit . While The Hobbit is primarily an example of narrative writing, since it explores the adventures of the hobbit and his companions, this scene is definitely descriptive. There is no plot or action going on in this passage; the point is to explain to readers exactly what the hobbit’s home looks like so they can get a clear picture of it while they read. There are lots of details, including the color of the door and exactly where the doorknob is placed.

You won’t often find long pieces of writing that are purely descriptive writing, since they’d be pretty boring to read (nothing would happen in them), instead many pieces of writing, including The Hobbit , will primarily be one of the other writing styles with some descriptive writing passages scattered throughout.

When you’re trying to persuade the reader to think a certain way or do a certain thing, you’ll use persuasive writing to try to convince them.  Your end goal could be to get the reader to purchase something you’re selling, give you a job, give an acquaintance of yours a job, or simply agree with your opinion on a topic.

Common Places You’d See Persuasive Writing

  • Advertisements
  • Cover letters
  • Opinion articles/letters to the editor
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Reviews of books/movies/restaurants etc.
  • Letter to a politician

“What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’ - “This was their finest hour” by Winston Churchill

In this excerpt from his famous “Their finest hour” speech, Prime Minister Winston Churchill is clearing trying to convince his audience to see his viewpoint, and he lays out the actions he thinks they should take. In this case, Churchill is speaking to the House of Commons (knowing many other British people would also hear the speech), and he’s trying to prepare the British for the coming war and convince them how important it is to fight.

He emphasizes how important the fight will be (“Upon this battle depends the survival of the Christian civilization.” and clearly spells out what he thinks his audience should do (“Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties…”).

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Common Writing Styles to Know

Each of the four main types of writing styles has multiple subsets of styles within it. Here are nine of the most common and important types of writing you’ll see.

Narrative Writing

Character voice.

Character voice is a common writing style in novels. Instead of having an unknown narrator, the audience knows who is telling the story. This first-person narrator can help the reader relate more both to the narrator and the storyline since knowing who is telling a story can help the reader feel more connected to it. Sometimes the narrator is completely truthful in telling what happens, while other times they are an unreliable narrator and will mislead or outright lie to readers to make themselves look better. 

To Kill a Mockingbird (Scout is the narrator) and The Hunger Games (Katniss is the narrator) are two examples of this writing style.

Stream-of-Consciousness

This writing style attempts to emulate the thought process of the character. Instead of only writing about what the character says or does, stream-of-consciousness will include all or most of the characters thoughts, even if they jump from one topic to another randomly or include incomplete thoughts.

For example, rather than writing “I decided to take a walk to the ice cream shop,” an author using the stream-of-consciousness writing style could write, “It’s pretty hot out, and I feel like I should eat something, but I’m not really that hungry. I wonder if we have leftovers of the burgers Mom made last night? Is Mom staying late at work tonight? I can’t remember if she said. Ice cream would be a good choice, and not too filling. I can’t drive there though because my car is still in for repairs. Why is the repair shop taking so long? I should have listened when David said to check for reviews online before choosing a place. I should text David later to see how he is. He’ll think I’m mad at him if I don’t. I guess I’ll just have to walk to the shop.”

James Joyce and William Faulkner are two of the most well-known writers to have regularly used the  stream-of-consciousness writing style.

Epistolary writing uses a series of documents, such as letters, diary entries, newspaper articles, or even text messages to tell a story. They don’t have a narrator, there’s just whoever purportedly gathered the documents together. This writing style can provide different points of view because a different person can be the author of each document.

Well-known examples of epistolary writing include the novels Dracula  (written as a series of letters, newspaper articles, and diary entries) and Frankenstein (written as a series of letters).

Expository Writing

You’ll find this style in textbooks or academic journal articles. It’ll focus on teaching a topic or discussing an experiment,  be heavy on facts, and include any sources it cited to get the information. Academic writing often assumes some previous knowledge of the topic and is more focused on providing information than being entertaining, which can make it difficult to read and understand at times.

Business writing refers to the writing done in a workplace. It can include reports, memos, and press releases. Business writing typically has a formal tone and standard formatting rules. Because employees are presumably very busy at work, business writing is very concise and to the point, without any additional flourishes intended to make the writing more interesting.

You’ll see this writing style most commonly in newspaper articles. It focuses on giving the facts in a concise, clear, and easy-to-understand way. Journalists often try to balance covering all the key facts, keeping their articles brief, and making the audience interested in the story.

This writing style is used to give information to people in a specific field, such as an explanation of a new computer programming system to people who work in software, a description of how to install pipes within a house for plumbers, or a guide to new gene modifications for microbiologists.

Technical writing is highly specialized for a certain occupational field. It assumes a high level of knowledge on the topic, and it focuses on sharing large amounts of information with the reader. If you’re not in that field, technical writing can be nearly impossible to understand because of the jargon and references to topics and facts you likely don’t know.

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Descriptive Writing

Poetry is one of the most challenging styles of writing to define since it can come in many forms. In general, poems use rhythmic language and careful word choice to express an idea. A poem can be an example of descriptive writing or narrative writing, depending on whether it’s describing something or telling a story. Poetry doesn’t need to rhyme, and it often won’t follow standard grammatical or structural rules. Line breaks can, and often do, occur in the middle of sentences.

Persuasive Writing

Copywriting.

Copywriting is writing that is done for advertising or marketing purposes. It’s attempting to get the reader to buy whatever the writer is trying to sell. Examples of copywriting include catalogs, billboards, ads in newspapers or magazines, and social media ads.

In an attempt to get the reader to spend their money, copywriters may use techniques such as descriptive language (“This vanilla was harvested from the lush and exotic island of Madagascar"), exciting language (Stop what you’re doing and learn about this new product that will transform your life!”) and exaggeration (“This is the best cup of coffee you will ever taste!”).

Opinion 

People write opinion pieces for the purpose of stating their beliefs on a certain topic and to try to get readers to agree with them. You can see opinion pieces in newspaper opinion sections, certain blog posts, and some social media posts. The quality of opinion writing can vary widely. Some papers or sites will only publish opinion pieces if all the facts in them can be backed up by evidence, but other opinion pieces, especially those that are self-published online, don't go through any fact-checking process and can include inaccuracies and misinformation.

What If You’re Unsure of a Work’s Writing Style?

If you’re reading a piece of writing and are unsure of its main writing style, how can you figure which style it is? The best method is to think about what the purpose or main idea of the writing is. Each of the four main writing styles has a specific purpose:

  • Descriptive: to describe things
  • Expository: to give facts
  • Narrative: to tell a story
  • Persuasive: to convince the reader of something

Here’s an example of a passage with a somewhat ambiguous writing style:

It can be tricky to determine the writing style of many poems since poetry is so varied and can fit many styles. For this poem, you might at first think it has a narrative writing style, since it begins with a narrator mentioning a walk he took after church. Character + plot = narrative writing style, right?

Before you decide, you need to read the entire passage. Once you do, it’ll become clear that there really isn’t much narrative. There’s a narrator, and he’s taking a walk to get a birch from another man, but that’s about all we have for character development and plot. We don’t know anything about the narrator or his friend’s personality, what’s going to happen next, what his motivations are, etc.

The poem doesn’t devote any space to that, instead, the majority of the lines are spent describing the scene. The narrator mentions the heat, scent of sap, the sound of frogs, what the ground is like, etc. It’s clear that, since the majority of the piece is dedicated to describing the scene, this is an example of descriptive writing.

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How Can You Develop Your Own Writing Style?

A distinctive writing style is one of the hallmarks of a good writer, but how can you develop your own? Below are four tips to follow.

Read Many Different Styles of Writing

If you don’t read lots of different kinds of writing, you won’t be able to write in those styles, so before you try to get your own writing style, read different writing styles than what you’re used to.  This doesn’t mean that, if you mostly read novels, you suddenly need to shift to reading computer manuals. Instead, you can try to read novels that use unreliable narrators, stream-of-consciousness writing, etc.

The more you read, the more writing styles you’ll be exposed to, and the easier it’ll be able to combine some of those into your own writing style.

Consider Combining Multiple Types of Writing Styles

There’s no rule that you can only use one style for a piece of writing. In fact, many longer works will include multiple styles. A novel may be primarily narrative, but it can also contain highly descriptive passages as well as expository parts when the author wants the readers to understand a new concept.

However, make sure you don’t jump around too much. A paper or book that goes from dense academic text to impassioned plea for a cause to a story about your childhood and back again will confuse readers and make it difficult for them to understand the point you’re trying to make.

Find a Balance Between Comfort and Boundary-Pushing

You should write in a style that feels natural to you, since that will be what comes most easily and what feels most authentic to the reader. An academic who never ventures outside the city trying to write a book from the perspective of a weathered, unschooled cowboy may end up with writing that seems fake and forced.

A great way to change up your writing and see where it can be improved is to rewrite certain parts in a new writing style.  If you’ve been writing a novel with narrative voice, change a few scenes to stream-of-consciousness, then think about how it felt to be using that style and if you think it improved your writing or gave you any new ideas. If you’re worried that some writing you did is dull and lacking depth, add in a few passages that are purely descriptive and see if they help bring the writing to life.

You don’t always need to do this, and you don’t need to keep the new additions in what you wrote, but trying new things will help you get a better idea of what you want your own style to be like.

The best way to develop your own writing style is to expose yourself to numerous types of writing, both through reading and writing. As you come into contact with more writing styles and try them out for yourself, you’ll naturally begin to develop a writing style that you feel comfortable with.

Summary: The 4 Different Styles of Writing

There are four main writing styles, and each has a different purpose:

If you’re struggling to figure out the writing style of a piece, ask yourself what its purpose is and why the author wants you to read it.

To develop your own writing style, you should:

  • Read widely
  • Consider mixing styles
  • Balance writing what you know and trying new things

What's Next?

Literary devices are also an important part of understanding writing styles. Learn the 24 literary devices you must know by reading our guide on literary devices.

Writing a research paper for school but not sure what to write about?   Our guide to research paper topics has over 100 topics in ten categories so you can be sure to find the perfect topic for you. 

Are you reading  The Great Gatsby for class or even just for fun?  Then you'll definitely want to check out our expert guides on the biggest themes in this classic book, from love and relationships to money and materialism .

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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.

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How to Use All 4 Writing Styles to Create an Exciting Nonfiction Book

by Bennett R. Coles

nonfiction writing style

In the world of book writing, there are four well-defined writing styles:

Expository:

In simple terms, this style is used to inform and educate the reader (without expressing your opinion).

Descriptive:

This style is used to paint a picture in the reader’s mind.

This style is used to bring the reader along your character’s emotional journey.

Persuasive:

This style is used to convince the reader to side with you and your beliefs.

Most book genres tend to rely on one or two styles. For example, fiction books tend to focus on the descriptive and narrative styles. Poetry and travel books tend to be written in the descriptive style . Political books or books centered on activism use primarily the persuasive style, and cookbooks, textbooks and research or scientific journals use the expository style.

But there’s one genre which is perfectly suited to take advantage of all four styles concurrently: nonfiction written by business people, professionals or consultants in order to solve a deep-seated problem with their audience.

By taking advantage of all four styles, you’ll be able to craft a book that hits all the major chords with your readers:

  • You’ll be able to use the expository style to convey well-researched findings to back up your solution in a way that establishes you as an expert in their eyes.
  • You’ll be able to use the descriptive style to paint vivid pictures in your audience’s mind of someone like them before and after they apply your solution.
  • You’ll be able to use the narrative style to take your audience through an emotional journey from problem to solution as lived by the characters in your case studies.
  • You’ll be able to use the persuasive style to convince your audience why your solution will be different than any other than they might have tried in the past.

Problem-solving nonfiction is ideally suited for the use of all four writing styles like no other genre is.

What Are the Four Types of Writing Styles?

Before we get into the details on how to apply each style to your book, let me introduce their unique characteristics.

Expository Writing style

The expository writing style is used to build your credibility as an expert. You’ll achieve this goal by presenting facts, statistics and other data required to back up your solution (it’s also important for this style that you quote your sources).

Also very important in this style is the use of diagrams, charts and other illustrations to provide different views of your data to enhance your presentation.

What Is the Main Goal of This Style?

To educate your audience about the background information required to support your unique solution.

What Are Some of Its Techniques?

  • Use of facts
  • Illustrations

What is it Not Used For?

The expository writing style is not used to express your opinion or to influence your reader. Try to stay away from “loaded words” that carry a high emotional charge, since they’ll create a conflict with the factual nature of the style.

What Are Some Common Applications?

How-to books, textbooks, instruction manuals, cookbooks, business articles, professional and scientific journals and books about hobbies and interests.

Descriptive Writing style

As the old adage says, a picture is worth a thousand words, and this is where the descriptive writing style comes in handy. One of the best devices to engage your reader’s senses is to paint a clear picture of how your solution will work in their lives.

Descriptive writing is not only used to engage your audience’s five senses but also their feelings. Your goal is to engage your reader so closely that they feel they’re actually “there.” This is a powerful literary device used to great effect in the fiction genre and you’ll be borrowing from it for your nonfiction book .

To engage your reader’s imagination so they can feel as if they’re experiencing the events in your book themselves.

  • Adjectives used to descriptively enhance nouns
  • Adverbs used to descriptively enhance verbs
  • Focusing on small details
  • Using the 5 senses

This style is not used to narrate. In other words, the descriptive style is never used to tell a story or to give insights into the thoughts or the emotional state of characters in your book.

Novels, poetry, journal writing, travel books and music lyrics.

Narrative Writing style

nonfiction writing style

Narrative writing can be used very effectively in problem-solving nonfiction through the power of story telling. Nonfiction books without any story telling are not as engaging as they could be.

Use stories to create an emotional connection with your readers by making them become invested in characters that they can relate to – characters that also “feel their pain.” They could be about yourself, past clients, or fictional characters that combine the experiences of multiple clients.

To offer readers insights into the thoughts and feelings of characters going through a similar emotional journey than they’re going through themselves.

  • Address the 5 W’s (what, when, where, how and why)
  • Describe a sequence of events leading to a climax
  • Include a description of the characters, settings, dialogue, conflict and resolution

Narrative writing is not used to introduce facts and figures and it’s not used to influence or persuade your audience.

Novels, poetry, short stories, screenplays and movie scripts.

Persuasive Writing style

The persuasive writing style can be used to great effect in problem-solving nonfiction books. Your goal is not just to communicate and teach new skills, but also to persuade your reader to take action and implement your solution in their lives.

You want to persuade readers by appealing to them on an emotional level and using your connection and your credibility as an expert to convince them to side with you. The aim of persuasive writing is to align your reader’s goals with your own.

To influence, to persuade, to convince.

  • Emotive words
  • Inclusive language
  • Exaggeration
  • Rhetorical questions
  • Metaphors and similes
  • Sarcasm (used tactfully)
  • Logical arguments

Doing anything that takes your reader out of the plane of reality – such as by going into a detailed description of places, circumstances or events or into a deep narrative.

Academic papers, opinion pieces, newspaper editorials and books by political figures.

How Do I Apply the 4 Writing Styles to Enhance My Nonfiction Book

nonfiction writing style

Now that we’ve covered all four styles let me show you an example of each so you can get an idea of practical applications.

Example of the Expository Writing Style

“The fundamental question of work and leisure raised by Weiss is particularly relevant as a generation called Millennials moves firmly into the workforce. I know many Millennials and in general they’re hard-working, passionate young men and women who are eager to work, but they want to enjoy and draw meaning from their jobs.

Most are sensible enough to have a day-job to pay the bills, but many have a “side hustle” – a hobby or a business idea into which they pour their passion and hope to one day monetize.

Weiss recognizes this trend in workers, but an interesting disconnect between Weiss’ article and today is the discussion of self-employment. Weiss notes that self-employed workers are generally most satisfied even if they earn less, but also makes the observation that self-employment has significantly declined.

In this example the author is using expository writing to present and analyze research findings by a recognized expert in the field.

Example of the Descriptive Writing Style

“Coming down to Bridge Park had been a good idea, he decided. Leaving the crowded mass of the city behind he’d ridden the train south, through the razed land and out onto the delta.

Rice paddies stretched to every horizon, blurring the line between land, river and sea. And then, in the shadow of the ruined supports of the bridge, the park rose like a garden oasis above the lowlands.

He obviously wasn’t the only person with the same idea today, and the park was lifted by the shrieks of children playing on the bridge replica fun zone behind him.”

In the above passage, the author is using descriptive writing to paint a picture in the mind of the reader by using specific adjectives and adverbs that appeal to the reader’s senses.

Example of the Narrative Writing Style

“ Christopher Reeve was one courageous person who fully accepted an unexpected change in direction in his life. The icon of superhuman strength in the 80’s, he was the quintessential Superman. An actor of great appeal and talent, he represented the ideal combination of manliness, strength, seeker of justice, and savior of humankind.

In May 1995, he was riding his horse and had a serious fall. The accident damaged his spinal cord such that he was left a quadriplegic and had to use a machine to help him breathe. The accident sent shockwaves around the world. How could Superman be rendered a quadriplegic? It was unfathomable.

After many months of grueling physical therapy, he learned how to function in this new altered state. The emotional toll was great as he and his family struggled with the changes this accident brought into their lives.

Within a year, however, he had founded a charitable organization called the Christopher Reeve Foundation in order to raise money for research on spinal cord injuries and made it his mission to find a way for all victims of these devastating injuries to walk again.”

Here the author is using narrative writing to portray the dramatic fall in the fortunes of a celebrity after a traumatic life event, and how he resolved the conflict in his life to become a real-life superhero in the eyes of his followers.

Example of the Persuasive Writing Style

“‘ I’m too old’ or ‘It’s too late to change’ are nothing but limiting beliefs. Like any other beliefs, they’re fully under your control and are totally replaceable. In the end, you’re the one who truly runs the show, as much as you’re taught to believe the opposite. When it comes to making changes in your life, you have the ultimate say. If you end up doing what others think you should, it’s only because on some level you’ve made the decision to believe that their ideas are more worthy than your own.

If you want to change, you have to start believing in what you want to do, no matter what other people’s ‘opinions’ are. And you have to believe that the changes you want to make are worth it, regardless of your age or your circumstances.

Life consists of a collection of ‘moments.’ This very moment and every moment after it are what your life is made of. If you live your life worrying about the future, regretting the past or even living how others tell you to live, then you aren’t living ‘your’ moments.

All it really takes to become in charge of your own life is to simply decide to do so. Your process of reinvention is 100% yours. Don’t be afraid to use it fully to our advantage. Don’t be afraid to think big thoughts. Remember, you can make a difference: you are the difference!”

In this example, the author is using persuasive writing to influence readers to take action by changing their belief system through replacing limiting beliefs with empowering ones.

Now you know what the four key styles used in writing are and how to apply them to your nonfiction book for maximum effect. But here’s a word of caution: if you lean on one style much more than the others, you risk being pigeonholed into a genre that doesn’t serve your message.

For example, too much narrative style will make your book feel more like a novel or creative nonfiction , and your persuasive message will be diluted.

Too much persuasive style will make your book feel dogmatic or proselytizing, and will break the connection of trust with your readers.

Too much descriptive style and your book will be too detached from reality, which will impact the expository techniques that are required to back up your findings with facts and data.

Too much expository style and your book will be too dry and mechanical, making you lose the connection with your readers.

Make sure that you create a good balance of expository, descriptive, narrative and persuasive writing skills in your manuscript and you’ll have an exciting nonfiction book in your hands.

If you enjoyed this article and are in the process of writing a nonfiction book, be sure to check out my free nonfiction success guide , drawn from years of experience editing books for bestselling authors (including a New York Times bestseller) and ghostwriting for CEOs and politicians. Simply click here to get instant access .

Leave me a comment below if you have any questions or a specific need that I can help you address – I operate an author services firm that specializes in helping entrepreneurs, professionals and business owners who want to publish books as a calling card for prospects, to establish their status as an expert or to generate additional leads for their businesse s.

Here are some related articles I highly recommend:

The 10 must-have writing skills for nonfiction authors, how to write a compelling book in 12 steps: a must-read guide for nonfiction authors.

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Non-Fiction Narrative Techniques: Crafting Compelling True Stories

By: Author Paul Jenkins

Posted on January 4, 2024

Categories Business , Journaling , Narrative , Writing

Narrative non-fiction is an engaging genre that blends factual reporting with compelling storytelling. It employs various literary devices and techniques to craft true stories with the vividness and emotional depth often found in fiction. Authors of narrative non-fiction bring to life real characters, settings, and events, creating a vivid tapestry that captivates readers, while maintaining the accuracy and relevance of the information being presented.

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This genre encompasses a diverse range of subjects and approaches, from in-depth explorations of socio-political issues to intimate biographies and memoirs. Writers utilize extensive research and interviews to construct an authentic narrative foundation.

Creative elements, including character development and a strong narrative arc , are then interwoven to enhance readability and appeal. By understanding their audience, non-fiction narrators tailor the delivery of their stories to inform, persuade, or entertain, often leaving a lasting impact on their readers.

Key Takeaways

  • Narrative non-fiction combines real-world facts with storytelling techniques .
  • Thorough research and real narratives are foundational to the genre’s credibility.
  • The genre adapts creative devices to engage and communicate effectively with readers.

Defining Non-Fiction Narrative

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Narrative non-fiction , also known as literary nonfiction or literary journalism , is a genre that encompasses true stories presented in a compelling, narrative style . Unlike standard non-fiction, which is structured around presenting facts, figures, and information, narrative non-fiction weaves these elements into a story-like format, often adorned with the elements of fiction such as character development, setting descriptions, and a structured plot.

Here are some key characteristics:

  • True Stories : The foundation of narrative non-fiction is factual accuracy . Every event, character, and dialogue must be grounded in verifiable facts.
  • Engaging Storytelling : Authors employ narrative techniques common to fiction, like scene setting, pacing, and climax, to captivate readers.
  • Literary Devices : The use of literary devices such as metaphor, foreshadowing, and vivid descriptions enhances the narrative while remaining true to the facts.

Narrative non-fiction differs from other non-fiction in its emphasis on narrative and aesthetic structure, intending to engage as well as inform. It is seen in a variety of forms, including personal essays, memoirs, biographies, and historical accounts. Authors of this genre aim to convey complex truths through a well-crafted narrative, often with the depth and research characteristic of rigorous journalism .

For those interested in exploring this genre, understanding and Teaching the Five Kinds of Nonfiction provides insight into how narrative non-fiction can be a bridge for fiction lovers to engage with factual content through the lens of storytelling.

Elements of Narrative Non-Fiction

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Narrative non-fiction crafts real-world stories with the same literary devices found in fiction, focusing on elements like a compelling structure and truthful, yet engaging content.

Structure and Plot

In narrative non-fiction, structure and plot are the backbones of the story, guiding readers through a logical sequence or arranged in a way that makes thematic sense. Chronological order is the most straightforward approach, but authors may also employ techniques like flashbacks to enhance the narrative.

Setting and Scene

The setting provides context, grounding the narrative in a particular time and place. The scene creates an immersive experience for readers, often through rich descriptions and sensory details, enabling a vivid exploration of real-world events.

Characterization

Characterization in narrative non-fiction involves the in-depth portrayal of real people. Through actions, thoughts, and interviews, characters come to life, and their authentic experiences drive the narrative.

Dialogue and Quotes

Dialogue and quotes add authenticity, allowing readers to hear the subjects’ voices firsthand. This technique can reveal personality and is often extracted from interviews or historical records.

Theme and Message

The theme and message reflect the central ideas and takeaways that the author wishes to convey. Whether it’s a moral lesson, a prominent issue, or a personal story, these elements resonate with the reader and give the narrative a purpose.

Perspective and Reflection

A narrative non-fiction often includes the author’s perspective and reflection , allowing for personal insights that connect with the audience on an emotional level. This introspection transforms mere events into a story with depth.

Truth and Accuracy

Truth and accuracy are paramount, distinguishing narrative non-fiction from fiction. Ethical writing practices demand a commitment to the truth, avoiding fabrication , while still crafting a compelling narrative.

Pacing and Timing

Effective pacing and timing control the rhythm of the story, building tension or providing relief as needed. Skillful pacing ensures that readers stay engaged from beginning to end, navigating through the narrative at a tempo that suits the unfolding events.

Research and Interviews

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When constructing a non-fiction narrative, thorough research underpins the credibility of the work. Authors often begin by identifying their research objectives to clarify what they need to learn and why it is significant. They may peruse historical records, analyze reports, or examine existing literature to lay a strong foundation for their narratives. Accessible and reliable information is the backbone of non-fiction, and authors must exercise due diligence to fact-check and validate their findings.

Interviews play a crucial role, especially for an investigative journalist . Engaging with individuals who have direct experience or expert knowledge on the topic can offer depth and perspective that is not available through other sources. Here are some steps authors may take during this process:

  • Prepare : Develop insightful questions; research the interviewee’s background.
  • Engage : Conduct the interview in a respectful, professional manner.
  • Record : With permission, record responses to ensure accuracy.
  • Verify : Check the factual accuracy of statements made during interviews.

In the realm of investigative journalism , interviews are often key to uncovering truths that are not evident through data alone. An experienced journalist knows the value of primary sources and firsthand accounts, and acknowledges that what interviewees share can transform an examination from informative to engrossing. They follow a systematic approach:

  • Define the Scope : Every interview should have a clear purpose that aligns with the researcher’s goals.
  • Source Selection : Identifying authoritative and diverse sources to provide balanced perspectives.
  • Ethical Considerations : They approach interviews with confidentiality and sensitivity where required.

Whether the writer is a seasoned journalist or a first-time author, meticulous research paired with strategic interviews can elevate a non-fiction narrative from merely factual to profoundly compelling.

Creative Elements in Narrative Non-Fiction

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Narrative non-fiction blends factual content with creative storytelling techniques to engage and inform the reader. This section outlines how authors use creative license while adhering to ethical standards, and incorporate fiction techniques, literary devices , and sensory details to enhance the narrative.

Creative License and Ethics

Authors of narrative non-fiction take certain liberties to craft a compelling story—often referred to as creative license . However, they must balance this creativity with ethics to ensure that the truth of their narrative is not compromised. This includes maintaining accuracy while possibly altering minor details to protect identities or when exact details are inaccessible.

Incorporating Fiction Techniques

Narrative non-fiction writers often employ techniques traditionally found in fiction writing such as building suspense , using flashbacks , and developing a backstory . A chronological account might be rearranged to create a more engaging narrative, similar to how a novelist structures a plot to build toward a climax or to incorporate a surprise element.

Literary Devices and Storytelling

Literary non-fiction uses a variety of literary devices to enrich the prose. For example, an epiphany experienced by the protagonist can serve as a pivotal moment in the narrative, just as it would in a novel. Storytelling in creative nonfiction is not only about the sequence of events but also about how those events are conveyed to evoke emotion and deeper understanding.

Sensory Details and Imagery

To immerse readers in the experience, writers often appeal to the five senses . Descriptive imagery and sensory details allow the audience to visualize scenes and feel connected to the events or characters. This technique helps to paint a vivid picture and can make even the most mundane details come to life.

Reflection and Personal Essays

In personal essays and memoirs , the writer’s reflection is a key element. These forms of creative nonfiction explore the author’s insights and emotions about their experiences. A chronicle of events accompanied by the writer’s introspection offers a deeper level of engagement and often communicates universal truths.

Writing for Your Audience

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Understanding your audience is crucial when writing non-fiction. A writer should anticipate the readers’ needs, interests, and knowledge level to maintain their attention and deliver relevant content. To tailor non-fiction writing to a specific audience , one must consider several factors.

  • Demographics : Age, profession, education level, and cultural background.
  • Purpose : Why is the audience reading the piece? Are they looking for information, entertainment, or skill enhancement?
  • Genre familiarity : Is the audience versed in the genre , or is this their first encounter?

A well-crafted non-fiction piece should resonate with its intended audience . For example, technical jargon may be appropriate for professional or academic readers, while a narrative approach suits a broader audience . A writer may employ anecdotes to relate to the audience on a personal level, thus fostering a connection.

Writers must also vary their sentence structure and choose accessible vocabulary to encourage continued reading. Alli ance with the reader is formed when content is presented in a logical and pleasing manner. Moreover, directly addressing the reader can enhance engagement.

By prioritizing the audience and their expectations, the non-fiction writer establishes a bond of trust. This relationship is the bedrock on which the success of the piece rests.

Case Studies and Examples

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This section delves into the use of non-fiction narrative techniques through an examination of influential authors, award-winning publications, and the spectrum of non-fiction forms . It provides context through specific historical examples and the perspectives of notable practitioners in the field.

Influential Non-Fiction Authors

Joan Didion and Tom Wolfe stand out for their distinctive styles that blend journalistic rigor with literary flair. Didion’s incisive explorations of American culture and personal narratives set her apart, while Wolfe’s New Journalism ushered in an era of immersive reporting, as seen in works like “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.”

Norman Mailer and Hunter S. Thompson also revolutionized non-fiction with their bold approaches. Mailer’s “The Armies of the Night” and Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” exhibit a deep interplay between the author’s persona and the narrative, pushing the boundaries of traditional journalism.

Award-Winning Works

Non-fiction narrative techniques have been acknowledged in the literary world with numerous Pulitzer Prizes for works that offer in-depth reporting and storytelling excellence . For example, biographies have frequently been recognized by the Pulitzer committee, with meticulously researched life stories offering compelling narratives about historical figures.

In literary criticism, essays and books that dissect written works through nuanced argumentation have been celebrated for their contribution to understanding literature and society. These pieces often reveal as much about the critic as about the subject, reflecting the personal tone that characterizes much non-fiction narrative.

Controversial and Notable Works

Controversy in non-fiction can arise from blurred lines between fact and fiction. James Frey’s “A Million Little Pieces,” initially published as a memoir, later faced scrutiny over fabricated elements, sparking a debate over truth in literary non-fiction.

Additionally, Hunter S. Thompson’s gonzo journalism, where reporters involve themselves in the action to such a degree that they become central figures of their stories, has also been a subject of controversy, raising questions about objectivity and the true essence of non-fiction.

Varied Forms of Non-Fiction

The scope of non-fiction narrative is vast, ranging from food writing , which provides culinary history and personal anecdote , to the diary format, offering intimate insights into the author’s thoughts over time. “Frankenstein,” often categorized as fiction, has been revisited by literary critics for its deeply autobiographical elements.

In journalism , articles published in magazines often adopt narrative techniques to engage with the reader on issues of current events and culture. Meanwhile, the MasterClass platform has hosted numerous biographers and non-fiction authors sharing their experience in crafting compelling true stories, providing insight into the process and history of non-fiction narrative creation.

Publication and the Industry

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The publication industry for non-fiction narrative spans various mediums, each with their unique set of techniques and audience engagement tools. In magazines , the use of serial storytelling is often employed to retain readers over multiple issues. This approach capitalizes on the continuity of narrative to build a loyal readership eager for the next installment.

Moving to journalism , non-fiction narratives are frequently amplified through multi-platform publishing. Here, stories may start in print or digital articles and extend into deeper dives via podcasts . These audio formats offer an intimate experience, wherein voices and sounds bring stories to life. They are particularly effective for immersive storytelling , which is a critical aspect in non-fiction narratives.

Within the industry, serial publications have gained prominence across both physical and digital spaces. The episodic release of content keeps audiences consistently engaged and allows for more complex, layered storytelling . Publishers utilizing serial formats often explore a wider range of topics, going in-depth with each episode or issue, advancing the public’s understanding of a subject over time.

It is the blend of factual reporting with compelling storytelling that distinguishes non-fiction narrative in today’s publication landscape. Whether through a podcast series, a feature in a literary journal, or a sequence of magazine articles, publishers are crafting stories that hold both truth and narrative appeal . Such content not only informs but entertains, ensuring that the readers or listeners stay tuned for the next chapter in an ongoing saga of real-life stories.

Genre Exploration

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In exploring the genre of narrative non-fiction, one discovers a rich landscape where factual narratives are presented with the storytelling techniques of fiction. This genre encompasses various forms, such as memoirs, literary journalism, and historical narratives, each with its own conventions and storytelling methods.

Memoirs and Personal Stories

Memoirs and personal stories chronicle an individual’s life experiences , often illuminating broader themes and truths. They hinge on authentic, reflective insights into the human condition , crafted through a combination of narrative arc , character development , and emotional resonance . For example, the structure of a memoir might be nonlinear, emphasizing thematic connections over chronological events.

  • Authentic experiences
  • Reflective insights

Literary and Journalistic Non-Fiction

Literary journalism and literary non-fiction blur the line between reportage and story, utilizing descriptive language and narrative structure to convey complex truths. Literary journalists often immerse themselves in the subject matter, offering an in-depth and nuanced perspective. The aim is to inform and captivate, bringing readers closer to the heart of the discourse.

  • Descriptive language
  • Narrative structure
  • In-depth exploration

Historical and Biographical Works

Biography and history focus on chronicling the lives of individuals or significant events from the past. Biographers strive to provide a meticulous account , backed by extensive research, while still engaging readers through the power of storytelling. Historical works aim to contextualize the past, offering a window into the lives, cultures, and events that have shaped the world narrative.

  • Extensive research
  • Storytelling techniques

In each of these sub-genres, the commitment to factual accuracy is paramount, yet the storyteller’s voice is clear, transforming dry accounts into gripping narratives. The goal is always to illuminate truth through the artful arrangement of real-life events.

Evolution of Non-Fiction Narrative

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The foundations of narrative non-fiction are deeply rooted in history, emerging prominently in the literary landscape with early 20th-century classics. Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood” and Norman Mailer’s “The Executioner’s Song” stand as pivotal works, utilizing rich descriptive language and thorough character development, typically associated with fiction, to relay factual stories. This blending of storytelling techniques marked a substantial step in the genre’s growth .

Throughout the 1960s , a transformation unfolded as journalists began pushing the boundaries of conventional reporting, integrating creative elements into their factual writing. This period saw an exploration of the genre, which is often considered the inception of modern creative non-fiction.

  • Early 19th Century : Elements of narrative non-fiction appear in works such as “A Walk to Wachusett” by Henry David Thoreau.
  • Early 20th Century : Books like “In Cold Blood” employ fictional storytelling methods to narrate real events.
  • 1960s and Beyond : Journalists test the limits of narrative freedom, leading to the emergence of creative non-fiction.

Narrative non-fiction has evolved to include not only literary works but also other forms such as longform journalism , memoirs , and biographies . The shift towards a more narrative-driven approach in non-fiction reflects an ongoing change in how readers engage with the genre .

Narrative non-fiction’s growth is a testament to its versatility and the public’s appetite for stories that combine the factual reliability of journalism with the emotional resonance of literature. It continues to be an influential force in literature and journalism, adapting to the challenges and demands of each new generation.

Developing a Unique Writing Style

A unique writing style allows an author to distinguish their work from others, offering readers a distinct voice and perspective. In non-fiction, developing such a style can add depth and personal touch to factual content, making it engrossing and memorable.

Firstly , an author should become intimately aware of their voice . This is a combination of their personal style and the choices they make in diction, syntax, and tonality. For example, authors may choose to incorporate short, punchy sentences to convey urgency or long, flowing syntax for a more narrative feel. Reflecting on one’s own preferences, experiences, and the intended audience will shape this voice.

Next, consider the narrative techniques : using vivid descriptions , weaving in anecdotes and adopting a conversational tone can help to humanize the text. On the other hand, employing technical language and complex sentences can establish authority in a subject area. An author’s choices in these areas should align with their goals and the expectations of their readers.

Writing with clarity and confidence is crucial; it ensures that the message is not lost in the style. The balance between creative flourishes and straightforward reporting of facts is a fine line that defines a writer’s unique non-fiction narrative style.

Finally, authors can fine-tune their writing style through revision and by seeking feedback from peers. These practices help to refine voice and style, ensuring that they align with the author’s objectives and resonate with their audience.

By exploring and employing a variety of narrative techniques, detailed in resources such as the guides on improving nonfiction writing and writing creative nonfiction , one can craft a vibrant style that brings non-fiction stories to life.

Final Words

In the realm of non-fiction narrative, the conclusion holds substantial weight; it not only seals the argument but also leaves a lasting impression. A robust conclusion can often employ a mix of methods tailored to the narrative’s needs. For example, combining a reflective summary with projections for the future can provide closure while encouraging ongoing contemplation.

Writers may juxtapose a combo method to ensure a multi-faceted conclusion that resonates with varied audiences. It is through the conclusion that authors bring together the book’s themes, reminding the reader of the journey and solidifying the narrative’s purpose.

The conclusion must echo the book’s core message , whether it serves to motivate, inform, or call to action. It is here that writers crystallize their message, leaving readers with clarity and a sense of completion. Choosing the appropriate concluding technique is a strategic decision — a testament to the author’s skill in crafting compelling non-fiction .

Frequently Asked Questions

Narrative nonfiction merges factual storytelling with literary techniques to craft engaging and informative narratives. This section addresses common inquiries about its structure, techniques, and examples.

What are the core characteristics of narrative nonfiction?

Narrative nonfiction is characterized by its adherence to factual accuracy while employing elements such as character development, setting detail, and a structured plot . It often reads like a novel, but the stories it tells are true and well-researched.

Which narrative techniques are most commonly employed in nonfiction writing?

Nonfiction writers utilize a range of techniques such as dialogue , pacing, point of view, and thematic development to enrich the narrative. They rely on vivid descriptions and scene-setting to evoke real places and events.

How does the structure of a non-fiction narrative differ from that of fiction?

The structure of non-fiction narrative may not always follow a linear path as fiction does. It often incorporates flashbacks or thematic organization rather than chronological order, guided by the material’s real-world implications rather than plot devices.

Can you provide examples of narrative nonfiction suitable for middle school students?

Suitable narrative nonfiction for middle schoolers includes titles that are engaging and age-appropriate, such as “The Boys Who Challenged Hitler” by Phillip Hoose, which blends historical information with a compelling narrative.

What distinguishes a narrative nonfiction piece from a memoir?

A memoir is a subset of narrative nonfiction that specifically focuses on the author’s personal experiences. Meanwhile, narrative nonfiction spans a broader range of subjects and often involves various real-life characters and events beyond the author’s life.

What are some notable narrative nonfiction titles for younger readers, such as those in 2nd and 5th grades?

Notable titles for younger readers include books like “Balto and the Great Race” by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel, which delivers an adventurous true story in an accessible format for children.

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Fabulism with shaelin bishop, write about a challenge that you experienced in your life, and then overcame., pick one of the five senses. write a descriptive piece about your surroundings based on that sense., write about a time when you explored somewhere new., write about a time that you felt happy., look at your most recent text. write a story based on that text..

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Write about a time that you made a mistake with lasting ramifications.

Write about a time when you helped someone..

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Write about a time that you failed.

Choose a controversial topic from the news. write an opinion piece on it., subscribe to our prompts newsletter.

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Pick an impactful moment from your childhood. Write about it from the lens of adulthood.

The new york times runs a weekly modern love column. write your own "tiny love" column about a relationship in less than 100 words., write about your least favorite memory., write about your favorite memory., write about false news coverage of an important event., think of an item of clothing from your childhood, and write a story inspired by that., write a story where a particular piece of clothing appears three times..

  • Write a story inspired by a memory of yours.

Write about a person trying to see something from another’s point of view.

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The best nonfiction writing prompts

Are you an author looking for nonfiction writing prompts to spark your creative muse? You're in the right place: we created this directory to house all the story ideas about life, people, and history you might need to succeed as a nonfiction writer. 

The great thing about nonfiction writing is that ideas can come from anywhere: in-house family drama with the parents, an argument over the Internet with a stranger about money, or a heart-to-heart talk with friends about your beliefs. So whether you're writing an essay or creative nonfiction, feel free to scour this page for inspiration. Who knows? Maybe one of the stories you write in response to a prompt will turn into your next book. 

If you're looking to cut to the chase, here’s a top ten list of our favorite nonfiction writing prompts:

  • Write a story about inaction.
  • Write a story about activism.
  • Write about a date that was so terrible you’ll never forget it.
  • Write about a secret you’ve never told the person you love.
  • Write about someone (or something) you loved that you shouldn’t have.
  • Pick one of the five senses. Write a descriptive piece about your surroundings based on that sense. 
  • Write about a time when you helped someone. 

If you’re interested in becoming a nonfiction author, check out our free resources on the topic:

  • The Non-Sexy Business of Writing Non-Fiction (free cours e)  — None of the sexy nonfiction books you see on the bestseller lists started that way. We can guarantee you that all those books were written the non-sexy way: through simple hard work that requires you to show up at the computer daily to get your words onto paper. This free ten-day course aims to help you through that process and emerge with a nonfiction book at the end of the tunnel. 
  • How to Write a Memoir (blog pos t)  — Memoirs are among the most popular types of nonfiction markets in the publishing industry today. Suppose you're also interested in turning your life and experiences into a story with a beginning, middle, and end. In that case, this guide will walk you through the entire process: from outlining your memoir to writing and marketing it. 

Ready to start writing? Check out  Reedsy’s weekly short story contest  for the chance of winning $250! You can also check out our list of  writing contests  or our directory of  literary magazines  for more opportunities to submit your story.

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IMAGES

  1. 4 Different Styles of Writing for Nonfiction Books

    nonfiction writing style

  2. Summarizing Nonfiction Text During a Social Studies Lesson (with a free

    nonfiction writing style

  3. Nonfiction writing lessons in kindergarten and first grade

    nonfiction writing style

  4. Summarizing Nonfiction Text During a Social Studies Lesson (with a free

    nonfiction writing style

  5. The 12 Non-Fiction Writing Styles for Authors

    nonfiction writing style

  6. 5 Kinds of Nonfiction: Blake Hoena in 2021

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  1. How to Write a Nonfiction Book in 6 Steps

    1. Determine what problem your book will solve 2. Outline your book with a logical structure 3. Choose a style guide to remain consistent 4. Blast through your messy first draft 5. Revise your manuscript and check your facts 6. Choose to publish traditionally or independently 1. Determine what problem your book will solve

  2. 25 Types of Nonfiction Writing and Their Characteristics

    1. History History is a nonfiction writing genre that describes true historical events and eras. History books detail political and social situations, using primary and secondary sources to help readers understand their legacies and causes.

  3. How to Write a Nonfiction Book: A Step-by-Step Guide for Authors

    1. Get clear on what you want to achieve with your nonfiction book Before you embark on your writing journey, you need to know why you're going on this journey in the first place. What is it you want your reader to know? What do you hope to make them think or feel or do once they've read your book?

  4. How to Write a Nonfiction Book in 8 Steps

    1. Find your story. The first step to finding a great book idea is to follow what makes you curious. Listen to podcasts. Research a topic that calls to you. And be patient with those little sparks of ideas. If you're only working on material you find useful right now, you're drastically limiting yourself.

  5. 4 Different Styles of Writing for Nonfiction Books

    Nonfiction authors tend to gravitate toward one of four distinct writing styles—but only one is the best fit for most nonfiction projects. The AUTHORITATIVE Writing Style What is it? This writing style sets you up as the expert imparting knowledge to your reader.

  6. The 12 Non-Fiction Writing Styles for Authors

    The 12 Non-Fiction Writing Styles These are the 12 non-fiction styles for authors to use as a framework in writing their books. Problem / Solution This is the most common style of non-fiction books. Here, the author presents a problem, usually summed up by a "story question," (like our story of Elliot) and then offers the solution.

  7. How to Write a Nonfiction Book (8 Key Stages)

    How to Write a Nonfiction Book. Here are the main 8 stages of writing a nonfiction book. Let's start. Choosing a Topic. Selecting the right topic is the cornerstone of writing a successful nonfiction book. This step is crucial because it influences your writing journey and impacts the appeal to your target audience.

  8. A Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction

    Writing A Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction Written by MasterClass Last updated: Sep 29, 2021 • 5 min read Creative nonfiction uses various literary techniques to tell true stories. Writing creative nonfiction requires special attention to perspective and accuracy.

  9. Tips for Writing Nonfiction: Memoir, Autobiography, and Creative

    Written by MasterClass Last updated: Aug 19, 2021 • 7 min read The broad genre of nonfiction includes an array of appealing topics, from memoirs and self-help books to cookbooks and travelogues. Aspiring writers can use these nonfiction writing tips to learn how to navigate the writing process. Learn From the Best Jump To Section

  10. How to Write a Nonfiction Book in 2024: The Ultimate ...

    #1 Part 1: Your Book Idea #2 Part 2: Outline the Book #3 Part 3: Write the Book #4 Part 4: Edit the Book #5 Part 5: Format Your Nonfiction Book #6 Part 6: Publish & Market Your Book Discover the secrets to writing a nonfiction book! Learn tips and tricks to create an engaging and well-researched piece of work.

  11. 10 Types of Nonfiction Books and Genres

    10 Types of Nonfiction Books and Genres. From journalism to instruction manuals, travel guides to historical CNF, nonfiction is one of the broadest and most versatile categories of writing. Indeed, we encounter many types of nonfiction genres in our everyday lives, including newspapers, social media, letters, reports, instruction manuals, and ...

  12. How To Write A Nonfiction Book: 21 Steps for Beginners

    #13 — Write your first chapter #14 — Write a nonfiction book first draft #15 — Destroy writer's block #16 — Reach out to nonfiction book editors #17— Self-edit your first draft #18 — Create a nonfiction title

  13. Creative Nonfiction: What It Is and How to Write It

    In short, creative nonfiction (CNF) is a form of storytelling that employs the creative writing techniques of literature, such as poetry and fiction, to retell a true story. Creative nonfiction writers don't just share pithy anecdotes, they use craft and technique to situate the reader into their own personal lives.

  14. 13 Types of Nonfiction (for You To Consider Writing)

    There are many types of creative nonfiction, but some include essays, memoir, autobiography, travel writing, and food writing. Essays Personal essays are a great way to express yourself and communicate while using your authentic voice. Think of an essay as a condensed autobiography, focused on a specific aspect, moment, or theme of your life.

  15. 5 Nonfiction Writing Techniques That Will Captivate Readers

    Take a page from your favorite fiction writer and adopt these five nonfiction writing tips. 1. Tell a memorable story. Humans have been fascinated by stories since the dawn of time. At lunch, we tell our newest stories to our co-workers; at night, we tell fanciful tales to our kids and then consume suspense from our flatscreens.

  16. How to Improve Your Nonfiction Writing: 11 Great Writing Techniques

    Written by MasterClass Last updated: Aug 19, 2021 • 4 min read If you're new to the world of nonfiction writing, finding your footing can be a bit overwhelming. Use these techniques to guide your writing and demystify the nonfiction-writing process. Learn From the Best Jump To Section 11 Techniques to Improve Your Nonfiction Writing

  17. Understanding the 4 Writing Styles: How to Identify and Use Them

    It's the most common writing style for fiction, although nonfiction can also be narrative writing as long as its focus is on characters, what they do, and what happens to them. Common Places You'd See Narrative Writing Novels Biography or autobiography Poetry Short stories Journals or diaries Example

  18. 4 writing styles that will transform your nonfiction book

    Persuasive Writing style. The persuasive writing style can be used to great effect in problem-solving nonfiction books. Your goal is not just to communicate and teach new skills, but also to persuade your reader to take action and implement your solution in their lives. You want to persuade readers by appealing to them on an emotional level and ...

  19. 4 Different Styles of Writing for Nonfiction Books

    This works well in textbooks or peer-reviewed journals. However, for other types of nonfiction—books of advice, books on business strategy, memoirs, etc.—the authoritative style falls flat. It ...

  20. Non-Fiction Narrative Techniques: Crafting Compelling True Stories

    January 4, 2024 Business, Journaling, Narrative, Writing Narrative non-fiction is an engaging genre that blends factual reporting with compelling storytelling. It employs various literary devices and techniques to craft true stories with the vividness and emotional depth often found in fiction.

  21. Best Nonfiction Writing Prompts of 2023

    If you're looking to cut to the chase, here's a top ten list of our favorite nonfiction writing prompts: Write a story about inaction. Write a story about activism. Write about a date that was so terrible you'll never forget it. Write a story inspired by a memory of yours. Write about a secret you've never told the person you love.

  22. 8 Types of Nonfiction: Nonfiction Genres to Know

    Writing 8 Types of Nonfiction: Nonfiction Genres to Know Written by MasterClass Last updated: Oct 12, 2022 • 2 min read Nonfiction books portray real-life people and true stories in compelling ways. Nonfiction works also include textbooks, cookbooks, and more. Nonfiction books portray real-life people and true stories in compelling ways.

  23. Naman

    bookswithnaman on February 22, 2024: ""80/20 Your Life!" by Damon Zahariades is a remarkable that opens up a world of possibilitie..."

  24. Understanding Narrative Nonfiction: Definition and Examples

    The genre of narrative nonfiction requires heavy research, thorough exploration, and an aim to entertain while also sharing a true, compelling story. There are many ways to tell a story—some writers prefer to stick to the truth, some prefer to make up truths of their own, and some will settle somewhere in the middle. The genre of narrative ...