Nonfiction Writing Advice

Defending Nonfiction Writing

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Science fiction writers create and populate fantastic new worlds, while mystery novelists scatter compelling red herrings while deftly slipping into key clues. Romance writers make readers sigh sweetly when the heroine realizes that, yes, she really does love him, after all . . . and what about those daring pioneers as they bravely trek into unknown lands of the West?

Compared to fiction writing, nonfiction writing – at first glance – can seem downright boring. But, the reality is that there are excellent reasons for pursuing the nonfiction craft. Here are just a few of them!

Defense #1

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Nonfiction writers have a smorgasbord of delicious publishing venues to sample – and even indulge in. You can write magazine articles and/or blog posts, perhaps covering marvelous travel getaways or profiling fascinating authors, artists and more – or newspaper stories, where you reveal fast-breaking news that will cause readers’ jaws to drop. Say, what??

Encyclopedia entries may sound dull, but I’ve had opportunities to research and write in-depth histories of baseball and basketball, two sports that I love, among countless other intriguing topics. That’s right – getting paid for writing about your vocations, hobbies and interests. And, having encyclopedia credits on your resume can cause editors’ eyes to light up! This proves that you can research effectively and present information succinctly.

Then there are books – SO many possibilities there – plus plays, documentaries and much more! And, what about creative nonfiction that incorporates techniques of fiction as you pen personal essays and memoir pieces? Ghostwriting, where you write blog posts, articles and even books for publication under someone else’s name? Book reviews?

Defense #2

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It’s often easier to sell nonfiction writing than fiction. That’s due, in large part, because of all of the different types of nonfiction outlets, but also because daily newspapers, content-hungry blogs, large encyclopedias and more require significant amounts of writing.

Defense #3

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You get to meet and interview really cool people! I’ve gotten to chat with, and sometimes even hang out with, amazing human beings, ranging from international boomerang champions to a representative of Virgin Galactic as the company prepares for average citizens to travel in space – and from ESPN’s/NASCAR’s Jamie Little to Olympic and X Games skateboarder/snowboarder Cara-Beth Burnside. (Nora Robert on the cusp of publishing her 100th romance novel? That, too!)

Defense #4

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Truth can be stranger than fiction. Did you know that the first woman to solo-hike the entire 2,000+ miles of the Appalachian Trail was 67 years old when accomplishing her goal? Or that she hiked the entire Oregon Trail, beating the wagon that followed the same path by an entire week? True, dat! Her name was Emma Gatewood and she had only an 8th grade education – but she ended up being the toast of the town, appearing on the Groucho Marx Show and other high-profile television programs.

Defense #5

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You can write both fiction and nonfiction – and it’s likely that doing both will help the quality of your writing, overall.

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