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Non-Fiction – Making The Most Of Your Life Experiences

August 23rd, 2020

Courses on Creative Writing encourage you to use real experiences, observations of people and events, then introduce these into a fictional piece of writing to create realistic characters and a believable plot structure. An excellent approach, of course.

However, I soon realized that I was describing what I had seen, conversations overheard, with only a minor attempt at fiction – clearly not my strength then!

If this is your preferred approach to tackling any subject, then non-fiction could be a natural route to follow. So, where to start?

Choosing a non-fiction topic

Think of articles you have read where you have thought “I could have explained it better than that!” What sort of topics struck a chord with you,  that you already have experience of?

These could be work-related skills, leisure activities, learning a new sport, creative hobbies,  interests in food/wine, travel, or the arts. All of these have formed the basis of books and articles I have had published.

Getting the structure right

You know you can write about this topic, so you need to ask yourself:

What makes this topic so interesting?

What is already out there and what are you adding that is different?

Who will want to read it, why, and where are they likely to look for it?

Overall, what is the purpose of the piece – to inform/ encourage/ entertain?At the end, what do you want the reader to think/ feel/ do?

Both the introduction and conclusions are important in non-fiction. Unlike fiction, the cliff-hanger section ending is not a requirement but there needs to be something that makes the reader want to continue reading.

Getting published

All publishers include submission guidance on their website, and you must follow this. Sometimes, there is limited space for you to pitch your masterpiece in the first instance, so it must stand out.

There must be a specific focus – what the blurb on the back cover of a book says to get someone’s attention. The content could be fascinating, but ultimately the reader (and publisher) will be thinking “and…so what?” What am I learning, gaining from reading this book or article?

As a book reviewer (NFAA), I have found this particularly relevant in memoirs. There are many harrowing personal stories, but the reader wants to know there is hope no matter what the circumstances. Alternatively, a travelogue can inspire the reader to plan that long-distance trek they have always wanted to do.

Conclusions

Non-fiction is a great starting point if you are new to writing for publication, whether you want to write for friends and family or a wider audience.

Non-fiction writing should engage the reader in seeing the world from a different perspective, to encourage or inspire them, but also to make them reflect on their own environment. Options include specialist book publishers, magazines, self-publishing, online Blogs. Whichever you choose, remember everyone has something to say!

 

Dr Jacqueline Jeynes – PhD, MBA, B.Ed(Hons), BA(Hons) in Creative Arts – has been a published author for more than 20 years, writing business, social history, art history books and articles plus international conference papers. She is a travel writer, distance learning tutor and course writer, and won Writer of the Year 2015 award.

She established her own small-run specialist publishing company 5 years ago, including an Editing service, is a tutor for Aberystwyth University distance learning art history modules, and a book reviewer for Non-Fiction Authors Association (NFAA). Her latest book with New York publisher is released in Autumn 2020 – “Targeting the Mature Traveler: Developing Strategies for an Emerging Market”.

Email: jackiepencoed@gmail.com  

Web: http://www.jacquelinejeynes.com 

Web: http://www.pencoedpublishing.co.uk

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