It’s a little ambitious to talk about “non-fiction writing” in general. After all, “non-fiction” technically covers everything from school textbooks to deeply personal memoirs. But we’ve come up with a few tips that we think can help anyone who wants to become a non-fiction author.
1. Read, Read, Read!
As with any kind of writing, the first step to becoming an author is to become a voracious reader.
Think about your favorite non-fiction books and what makes them great. Dip into some of the classic non-fiction works to expand your horizons. Find out what you enjoy reading, then use that as a starting point to develop your own authorial voice.
This isn’t a complete list by any means! If you want to write a dictionary, for example, you can do that too. The point is that, once you know the type of non-fiction you want to write, you should check out how other books in the same genre are written so you know what you’re up against!
3. Pick a Topic and Do Your Research
Eventually, you’ll have to pick something you want to write about. Ideally, this will be something that you already know or care passionately about. This will make it easier once the hard work of doing research begins (e.g., reading existing books, searching news archives, interviewing people).
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But maybe you’ve always known that you want to write a book about toasters. And maybe you’re already an expert on heating bread. That’s a great start! But you still need to check your information and organize your research so you know what to include in your book.
4. Getting Creative?
Non-fiction doesn’t have to be dry in order to be factual. In fact, some of the best non-fiction is exciting and emotive, making the reader feel like they are part of the action!
The key to this is sticking to the facts, but also using a literary style to engage your reader. And you can apply creative non-fiction techniques to any genre, so if you want to style yourself as the Hunter S. Thompson of vegan recipe books, go for it!
5. Keep It Simple
Unless you’re writing for a specialist audience, try to keep your language easy to understand. You might be an expert on your chosen topic, but the average reader won’t be.
Think about who you’re writing for before you begin. And don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from non-experts while you’re working. It will make sure you get your ideas across effectively!