Nonfiction Writing Advice

Defending Nonfiction Writing

Photo by freddie marriage on Unsplash

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

nonfiction writing
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

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

nonfiction writing
Photo by Laura Kapfer on Unsplash

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

nonfiction writing 4
Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash

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

nonfiction writing 5
Photo by Kalen Emsley on Unsplash

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

nonfiction writing 6
Photo by alexey turenkov on Unsplash

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

Uncategorized

Literary Lorain Poetry Contest

By the Lorain Historical Society

poetry writing contest

Theme: Women Who Empower

Prize Money:

  • First Place: $150 VISA Card
  • Second Place: $100 VISA Card
  • Third Place: $50 VISA Card

Who: Open to all residents of Lorain County

What: Submit one poem (free or formal verse) on the theme; 50 lines, maximum

When: Contest open from February, Monday 17th-midnight, March, Tuesday 17th

Where: Submit to  literarylorain@gmail.com

How: Within the body of your email:

  • Paste your poem (no attachments, please!)
  • List your legal name and, if applicable, your pen name
  • Provide your phone number and city/town

Important Notes

  • Submissions will be assigned a number; judges will not know your name
  • Poems cannot contain hate speech or sexually explicit language/themes
  • Only poems that follow the rules will be considered for prize money
  • No poems will be accepted after midnight on March 17th; to be fair to other entrants, there can be no exceptions
  • Winners will be contacted in late April and asked to read their poems at an event on Saturday, May 2, followed by an open mic

Any questions, please email info@lorainhistory.org

author interview

Author Interview: Writers of the Purple Sage

author interview: Barbara Burnett Smith

Deep From the Archives

This is an author interview that I wrote in the 1990s.

Writers of the Purple Sage by Barbara Burnett Smith

Barbara Burnett Smith proves that persistence pays. After having an agent for four years, belonging to two active writers groups, and penning several books — yet making no sales — she threw her hands up in the air and quit.

At least briefly.

“I stopped writing, stopped marketing, and even severed my connection with my agent,” Smith said. But, after another mystery writing friend, Susan Rogers Cooper, told her she was too good to not be writing, she gave it another try.

author interview, Nonfiction Writing Advice

Author Interview: Ruffled Feathers

author interview: Barbara Taylor McCafferty

Deep in the Archives

This is an author interview I wrote in the 1990s.

Ruffled Feathers by (Barbara) Taylor McCafferty

Barbara Taylor McCafferty was born on September 15, the same day as Agatha Christie. She loves figuring out a good puzzle, like those found in novels by Christie. So, what does McCafferty do for a living?

Photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash

Writes mystery novels — just like Agatha Christie!

Well, not exactly like Christie. McCafferty has her own unique style, sticking her unsuspecting characters in bizarre situations and watching them wiggle their way out of them.

“I always start a story with a question that begins with ‘wouldn’t it be funny if?'” she said. “Like in my book, Ruffled Feathers, a guy gets a ransom note and the person allegedly kidnapped is standing right next to him. So, you wonder, ‘Is this an error in timing? A gag?'”

author interview, Nonfiction Writing Advice

Author Interview: Fool’s Puzzle

author interview: Earlene Fowler

Deep From the Archives

This is an author interview I wrote in the 1990s.

Fool’s Puzzle by Earlene Fowler

Toss in one fresh, sassy, 34-year-old ex-cowgirl, mix in two parts of a murder almost spoiling a folk art museum quilt display, add a dash of a fifty percent Anglo, fifty percent Latino, one hundred and ten percent macho cop with gorgeous eyes, and what do you have?

You have the deliciously intense, tangy-tasting romance of Benni Harper and Gabe Ortiz, in Earlene Fowler’s first mystery novel: Agatha Award nominee, Fool’s Puzzle.

author interview, writing advice

Author Interview: Final Jeopardy

author interview: linda fairstein

Deep from the Archives

This is an author interview I wrote in 1997.

Final Jeopardy by Linda Fairstein

All good people, unit! Be glad that Linda Fairstein is on our side.

Fairstein has worked as a prosecutor in New York for over two decades, and she has been the chief of their sex crimes prosecution unit since 1976. She frequently speaks out against the cruelties of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and other types of violence against women, lecturing in the highest spots of the land. Those places include Harvard Law School, Kennedy School of Government, the Radcliffe College Alumna Association, Vassar College, and Cornell Medical School.

author interview, writing advice

Author Interview: The Death of Tarpons

author interview: Les Edgerton

Deep From the Archives

This is an author interview I wrote in 1996.

The Death of Tarpons by Les Edgerton

“Not long ago, I returned to the town of my youth, and made a disturbing discovery. It had weathered the intervening thirty years better than I had, at least physically, and that had the effect of giving me a bit of a jolt, as if the events of the summer of my fourteenth year hadn’t been as cataclysmic as I’d imagined.”

With those two sentences, Les Edgerton skillfully draws us into the harsh world of Corey John, a boy who reached out for love, but found kindness in meager supply and affection all too rare. When Corey dared to soar with the natural optimism of youth, his hope was carelessly crushed by those who should have loved him most.

Uncategorized

Writing Tips: Muddle in the Middle

dazzling readers
Photo by Mike Enerio on Unsplash

Whenever you start a new nonfiction writing project, it can be a thrilling time. You’ve come up with the most incredible idea and you envision the marvelous story you’re about to tell, full of dazzling insights, with an ending that will cause readers to become breathless with amazement, dizzy with excitement, in complete and utter awe of your talent!

You may know exactly which anecdote, statistic or quote will create the best beginning to draw in readers, and you may also know the final point that needs to be made. But, what about the middle?

Uncategorized

Author Interview: The Strange Files of Fremont Jones

Deep From the Archives

This is an author interview that I did in 1996.

The Strange Files of Fremont Jones by Dianne Day

After Dianne Day’s youngest son started college, she awoke one fine Saturday morning and realized, “Hey, I can do whatever I want today, as long as it doesn’t cost too much.”

“And, that was when I knew that i wanted to write a whole novel more than anything else in the world,” Day said. “So, I bought an electronic typewriter from Seas on the never-never plan, and I wrote one. That experienced hooked me and I’ve never stopped writing since.”