Writing Non-fiction - Book Writing 2

Writing Non-fiction - Book Writing 2


Writing is fun, when you get the hang of it. In these tutorials, I will show you how to awaken your writing skills that you have allowed too much rest. Before you engage with this tutorial, revisit Book Writing 1, the first writing tutorial. Also, scavenge in the writing toolkit for other relevant information to guide you on your writing journey.

In this tutorial we will focus on writing non-fiction. We will look at types of non-fiction and word count, as well as an outline for a non-fiction book. 

At the end of this tutorial, you will be able to write an outline for your first non-fiction book.

Writing Non-fiction - What is non-fiction prose?

The Encyclopedia Britannica gives us a good place to start. It says that non-fiction prose is “any literary work that is based mainly on fact, even though it may contain fictional elements”. It is writing that is “intended to instruct, to persuade, to convert, or to convey experience or reality through “factual” or spiritual revelation ”.

Writing Non-fiction - Types

There are dozens of these works but for the purpose of this tutorial we will focus on the following which you may be interested to write one day:

  • Memoir - an account about an experience in a person’s life, written by that person but this experience is set in a context, historical or otherwise. In the memoir, the writer’s purpose is to describe and interpret an event. Trevor Noah’s book,  “Born a Crime...”, set against the backdrop of apartheid South Africa is a good example.

  • Biography – an account about the life of a person, usually written by somebody else or with help from another person. Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” is an example of such a work, if it is true that she had help from a ghostwriter. If she wrote the book all by herself, it would be an  autobiography.

  • Autobiography – an account of the life of a person, written by that person; Nelson Mandela’s book, Long Walk to Freedom…, is an example.

  • Textbook –  a book intended to instruct the reader on a particular topic; you know them; you used them at school. See Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”.

  • Self-help book – a books that “helps” their reader to overcome a personal challenge. For example, see BrenĂ©  Brown’s books.

Writing Non-fiction - Word Count

The word count for these books is anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000 words, depending on your topic. At this point you are saying to yourself that this writing thing is impossible for you to take on, but nothing is impossible if you take that first step. Let this song from Gabby Barrett's album, Goldmine be your anthem every time you begin to doubt yourself. If you like the song, go support the artist by buying or streaming her music.

Writing Non-fiction - Outline

Let us begin by looking at one example from the world of education. Since I am a teacher of English, I will draw from the CXC English syllabus for Caribbean High School students.

You are a teacher. Suppose your students are having difficulties writing short stories. You could write a book called,   How to write a short story with examples. If you were writing such a book, here are some areas on which you could focus.

Introduction

In the introduction, you may give an overview of your book and show your target audience - students and other teachers - the benefits to be derived from reading your book.

Chapter 1

Plot 

Define plot for your target audience, provide an explanation for each element of the plot with examples and end your chapter with a number of examples of plots for stories.

Chapter 2

Characterization

Introduce your target audience to characters by explaining their importance in stories, types of characters, creating interesting characters and leave them with some examples of how to introduce characters into their stories. Here is a blog post about characters that you may find useful. Those of you who plan to write fiction should also read this post.

Chapter 3

Setting

Setting is integral to story writing. Introduce your readers to the different types of setting and show them examples.

Chapter 4

Point of view

Stories are told from points of view – first person, second person, third person. Explain the different types of points of view to your target audience and show them examples in writing about how this is done.

Chapter 5

Stories

Give your target audience three stories that you have written using the different points of view.

Chapter 6

Conclusion

Wrap up your book in a way that you think suitable.

Such a book as outlined above would have just over 10,000 words.

Writing Non-fiction - Final words

The outline above shows a possible structure for a basic textbook but you can use the same structure in writing any nonfiction book. First, you need to have an idea. Second,  divide the idea into segments. Third, use each segment as a chapter. To get ideas about structuring your book, examine the works of your favourite writers, study how they structure their books and learn from them.

If you still need more information about writing your non-fiction book, any of these books can provide you with good information.

Writing  Non-fiction - Assignment

Based on what you have learnt about the types of non-fiction books find an angle for a book idea in which you have an interest  and create an outline for that book.

Do not publish your outline but leave some feedback in the comment section below.

If you need additional help, send us an email and remember to click the subscribe button to get posts as soon as they are published.

Before you go, spend a few minutes to browse the blog and suggest topics that you would like me to explore. 

See you in Book Writing 3.


About the Author

Janette B. Fuller is a teacher and author of three books. Her business is to write stories set in the place she knows best – Jamaica – while also helping writers to write their own stories. When you are ready to write your story, make contact with her @ writingwisdomtree@gmail.com. Check out her books here


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