How to Write a Nonfiction Book: A Step-by-Step Guide for Authors
A nonfiction book is easier to write than a fiction book.
1. Get clear on what you want to achieve with your nonfiction book
What do you want your nonfiction book to accomplish? Do you want to explain a topic that you’re passionate about? Or tell a story that will inspire or guide your reader? Take some time to consider what you want your readers to get out of reading it.
2. Understand the subgenre of nonfiction you’re going to write
Expository nonfiction, which includes textbooks, self-help books, and how-to books, is different from narrative nonfiction in that it focuses on showing rather than telling.
3. Choose the structure for your book
When writing a story, you must first decide what type of story you want to tell and how you want to tell it.
The Traditional Three-Act Structure
This structure begins in the middle and uses flashbacks to tell your reader how it all began; after the climax, you tie up the loose ends and emphasize what you want your reader to take away from it all. This structure is especially effective when your reader’s interest is waning.
The Circular Structure
You switch back and forth between the beginning and the middle of a book, describing what led up to the climactic event, and you wrap up the story and tie up the loose ends as best you can at the end.
The Parallel Structure
You’re telling two or more stories at once with this structure, each with its own beginning, middle, and end. For expository nonfiction, it may make more sense to divide your book into sections, with the best way to do so being to tackle each step or principle separately.
4. Draft an outline
Determine how much space you want to give each sub-point to avoid rambling on about something that isn’t particularly important in the grand scheme of things.
5. Choose your style guide
A style guide is a set of guidelines that will help you be consistent in your writing, and it can cover everything from whether you’ll use the first or second person to small details like whether or not to write out numbers. Writing in a consistent style from the start will save you time later on.
6. Write, write, write
With a style guide to help you take care of the little details, it’s now just a matter of getting your ideas on paper or computer. So, pour yourself a drink, clear your schedule, sit down, and start writing.
Nonfiction Writing Techniques: How to Write Informative (and Exciting!) Nonfiction
Nonfiction can be just as exciting to read as fiction, but how do you get your ideas across in a way that will earn your book a spot on everyone’s favorite books list as a nonfiction writer?
1. Remember the story
Even if it’s about business or science, good nonfiction still tells a story, and as a nonfiction author, the challenge is to choose a story that your readers will find compelling.
2. Set the scene
When describing the scene, use all five senses to draw your readers in and make them feel as if they’re right there with you.
3. Bring your characters to life
Your readers want to know who you’re talking about in your book, how you describe them, and what they look like, sound like, and what their quirks are.
4. Beware of TMI
Overkill can detract from the story if you include too much irrelevant information, so think carefully about what you include in your description. It should add to the atmosphere, but if it takes more than a paragraph or two, it’s overkill.
5. Remember dialogue
You may be hesitant to use dialogue in nonfiction, but there are ways to do so without losing credibility. Consider the person’s speech patterns and accent, as well as the context in which they’re speaking. When using representative dialogue, make sure it sounds genuine.
6. Use plain language
To communicate effectively, use plain language. Simplifying your language will help you get your message across more effectively, as well as make your text more conversational, as if you’re speaking directly to your reader. Using plain language doesn’t mean dumbing down your message.
Use the active voice.
It’s easier to understand and more conversational than the passive voice, which can make your book sound like it was written by a little grey man in a grey suit.
Use simpler words.
In everyday conversation, how often do you use words like “consequently” and “such as” instead of “so” or “like”? Do you ever use the word “discombobulate” instead of “baffle”?
If you can’t avoid jargon, explain what the term means; remember that slang is a type of jargon, and it’s just as important as the word you’re calling something “amazing.”
Use shorter sentences.
Try to keep your sentences under 20 words in length, and don’t be afraid to switch up the subject or sub-headings from time to time.
Nominalizations are nouns that we form from a verb, such as “use” and “usage,” but they can be difficult to understand because they make your writing sound overly formal and make it appear as if you’re talking about something other than what happened.
7. Remember your research
If you’re writing a nonfiction book or even a memoir, you need to get the facts straight: do you have the dates correct? Are you certain about the timeline of events? There’s no excuse for not doing your research in the age of Google.
How do you start a nonfiction book?
8 Steps to Writing a Nonfiction Book
- Identify your u201cwhy.u201d The u201cwhyu201d is at the heart of any worthwhile creative endeavor: why are you writing this particular book?
- Identify your target audience.
- Do your research.
- Piece together the narrative.
- Set manageable goals for yourself.
How do you structure a nonfiction book?
Organize and structure your nonfiction book
- Outline your draft Table of Contents.
- Use subheadings.
- Other sections to consider.
- Foreword and blurb quotes.
- Author bio.
- Email list sign-up.
What is the best way to read non fiction books?
Professor Jimenez’s nonfiction reading advice, with a few additions from me:
- Start with the author. Who wrote the book?
- Read the title, subtitle, front flap, and table of contents.
- Read the introduction and conclusion.
- Read/skim each chapter.
What is the first thing you do when you start to read a nonfiction passage?
Explain that the book you’re about to share is nonfiction, which means it will provide us with accurate information, will be organized around a specific topic or idea, and we may learn new facts as a result of reading it.
What makes a nonfiction book good?
Whether it’s a work of history, journalism, biography, science, or other nonfiction, every nonfiction book should have a cohesive topic and serve a clear purpose. You’ll need to create a clear path for your readers to achieve their goals, starting with the table of contents.
How long should a non fiction book be?
Traditional publishers typically expect completed nonfiction book manuscripts to be between 50,000 and 75,000 words, with most placing restrictions on authors and requiring that the manuscript not exceed a certain word count unless special concessions are made.
Can anyone write a nonfiction book?
You don’t have to be a “great writer” to write a great book; you don’t need a writing degree to be a writer; you don’t need a college education to write a book that helps people and resonates with them; and you don’t need to be a grammar expert to hire an editor.
What is an example of nonfiction?
Expository, argumentative, functional, and opinion pieces; essays on art or literature; biographies; memoirs; journalism; and historical, scientific, technical, or economic writings (including electronic ones) are all examples of nonfiction.
How do I remember everything from non-fiction books?
Eight Ways to Remember and Understand What You Read, Especially When Reading Nonfiction
- Read with a purpose.
- Skim first.
- Get the reading mechanics down.
- Be selective in your highlighting and note-taking.
- Think in pictures.
- Rehearse as you go.
- Operate within your attention span (and expand it).
What should I read non-fiction?
Nonfiction books that are required reading
- Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. John Hersey’s Hiroshima. Helen Macdonald’s H is For Hawk. Oliver Sacks’ The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat.
Should I take notes while reading a book?
Taking notes, on the other hand, interrupts our reading flow, so there’s a delicate balance to be struck between taking too many notesu2014and reading extremely slowlyu2014and taking too few notes, which leaves much of the book’s knowledge on the table.
What is the most important reading skill?
Reading comprehension requires decoding, fluency, and vocabulary skills, as well as the ability to connect ideas within and between sentences. Reading aloud and talking about experiences can help kids improve their reading skills.
What are some reading strategies you use when you’re reading a challenging nonfiction text?
Here are five strategies to help your child succeed at nonfiction reading:
- Identifying key concepts. Recognizing how text is organized.
- Previewing and predicting.
- Comprehension monitoring.
What are the 7 strategies of reading?
Teachers should introduce the seven cognitive strategies of effective readers to students in order to improve their reading comprehension: activating, inferring, monitoring-clarifying, questioning, searching-selecting, summarizing, and visualizing-organizing.