Writing nonfiction often gets a bad reputation. Lots of authors think it lacks the creativity and storytelling of fiction.
And I blame the public education system.
English class taught me to love books and hate nonfiction writing. It kind of made me hate writing anything I was going to turn in for a while until I learned to work with the system.
The problem is that not everyone works with the system well. And when you’re writing an essay for English class, it’s fairly dull work.
It’s boring to write and it’s boring to read. I’d think teachers would assign different topics that encourage kids to explore creativity. But then, teachers don’t usually make their lesson plans.
Here’s the thing, though. Writing a nonfiction book is not the same as writing a school essay.
It’s not a school essay because you’re writing about something you have a passion for. Unless you were very lucky, I’m assuming you didn’t like most of your school essays. But a nonfiction novel is about a subject that you care about enough to live and breathe.
At least it had better be if you’re going to successfully write about it.
You’re excited about your topic. You’re passionate about it. And the language you use needs to reflect that.
Language and word choice is one major way we can utilize creativity in nonfiction pieces. When someone’s reading your piece, they should be able to feel your excitement. They should feel your love.
Not for them. That would be weird. For the topic.
Another thing that pissed me off about school essays was the strict reliance on templates. You know, a standard intro, key topics and then a closer.
Okay yes, I use a loose version of this for writing blog posts. But I don’t have to. And I certainly don’t use them when writing nonfiction.
If you want to write great nonfiction, throw out the rules. Your work doesn’t have to fall into neat paragraphs. You don’t have to discuss things chronologically if that doesn’t make sense.
The book is your own. You are an artist. Free yourself from the shackles of topic sentences.
The most important thing to remember is this. Your nonfiction books are meant to convey information. That’s its main purpose. But it’s not its sole purpose. Your book also needs to be entertaining. It needs to be fun to read.
Because if it’s not, no one is going to bother.