How to write a nonfiction book – Writing Tutorial 5


How to write a nonfiction book - Writing Tutorial 5




You want to know how to write a nonfiction book. This is the challenge that we will overcome by the end of this tutorial.

Writing a non-fiction book is like having that pesky wisdom tooth out. You endure a period of pain before finally deciding to get it out. Once it is out, a feeling of well-being washes over you.

So it is with writing a book. You go through a long painful period telling yourself and maybe anybody who will listen that you will write a book, but you keep procrastinating. Finally, you sit and write what you think you want to write, then second guessing yourself over and over. But once you’ve got that book out of you and you've shared it with the world, a feeling of well-being washes over you.

I know because I have gone through this process twice before.

Alas, only a tiny fraction of people who resolve to write a book actually do so but that tiny fraction of people produce many books each year for avid readers. 

Way back in 2013, William Dietrich writing in an article in the HUFFPOST said:

Pollsters report more than 80 percent of Americans would like to be an author, and in 2011 statisticians counted 329,259 books published in the United States, and 2.2 million books published in the world. Google estimates 130 million books have been published in human history...

You can be part of this elite group - people who follow through on their resolution to write a book. Writing a nonfiction book is in your hands.

In this tutorial you will build on all that you have learnt in the previous writing tutorials. Afterwards, the only thing you have to do is to start writing.

How to write a nonfiction book – Find your interest

Find your area of interest. How do you find your interest. You think of an idea and write it. How do you think of an idea? You allow your imagination free reign. You question the idea. 

Suppose you want to write about your life and you live a charmed life. You could ask the question: What if walls could talk? What stories would they tell? In the answers to these questions is a story to tell.

But, what is your interest?

Is it politics? For example, American politics, Jamaican politics, the politics of your area? 

The presidency of Donald Trump has inspired many writers to use either their inside knowledge or their research skills to ferret out information to write tell all books about the President and his Presidency. You could  also write about an aspect of the political environment in your country, if that is your interest.

Is your interest societal? About conspiracy theories? About policing? About family? About education? About children? About teenagers? About parenting? About illness? Write about it!

Is your interest Economics? Probably you could write a book titled, Economics for dummies. I am sure you won’t offend a soul. Many readers will thank you for such a book because they admit that they do not understand as much about the subject as they should.

Do you want to write about yourself? Go for it! You may want to write your memoir, biography or autobiography. Many examples are out there to guide you.

You decide what type of nonfiction book you will write. Do your research to find out how your favourite authors write their books, just for inspiration. Do not copy their style. Find yours. What is your angle?

How to write a nonfiction book – Find your angle

After you have decided on your area of interest, choose the angle from which you will tell your story. The angle is how you organise and tell your story in a novel way to surprise your readers and capture their interest from the first page of your book until the last page.

If you find your angle, you can narrow the focus of your book. To do this, ask the following questions:

  • What do I want to say about my topic of interest?

  • Why do I want to write about this bit of the topic?

  • Who is my intended audience? 

  • When (period of time) should I set my story? A period in the past, the present or the future? Or, should I tell all of my story from the beginning to the end? 

  • Where should I set my story? (place)

  • How should I tell my story? 

The "how" is the most important aspect of this questioning of your interest because the "how" is speaking to the angle from which you intend to tell the story.

How to write a nonfiction book – Write your premise

Generally, your premise for you nonfiction book identifies the problem that you plan to solve in your book and proposes a solution to that problem. It is usually written in two or three short sentences. 

However, there are many types of nonfiction books and the type that you are writing will determine how you write your premise. A premise for a "how to" book may be different from that for a memoir.  

Here is the premise for my second nonfiction book as a statement and as a question:

Teachers allow the job of teaching to stress them beyond measure but it is up to them to create a stress-free environment for themselves.

What (happens) if teachers make the rules for doing their job?

The premise above gives the writer direction in terms of what she will write. And, I am sure that the readers of this premise are asking themselves many questions which should be answered in the book.

Find your interest, write your premise and decide how to tell your story.

How to write a nonfiction book – choose your point of view

You have found your interest, chosen your angle and written your premise. Now choose your point of view. How will you tell your story? From the first person, second person or third person point of you? The choice is yours.

How to write a nonfiction book – Say what you want to say

After you have settled on your interest, written your premise, found the angle of your story and chosen your point of view, write your story. Afterwards, go back to organise your content. Much of the shaping of your work takes place after the first draft, so just write.

Conclusion

To write a nonfiction book, you have to put pen to paper or your finger tips to the keyboard. You have to start. Start!


Here is my first nonfiction book. See if you can spot the angle from which I wrote it.

How to write a nonfiction book - Writing Tutorial 5

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

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 and/or after you have written your story, make contact with her at writingwisdomtree@gmail.com for coaching and editing services, respectively. Check out her books here






Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The how, why and what of writing

COVID-19 and the Black Death: Present and Past Collide

How to communicate through your writing