Non-fiction writing is based on reality, but is not necessarily factual. This genre includes recreations of true stories, biographies and autobiographies found in such things as books, magazines, newspapers, advertisements and reference books. You might also want to write a how-to book. There are many of them out there on everything from how to lose weight, how to dance, find the right mate and build a birdhouse, how to improve your golf game or how to read sheet music or improve your Internet marketing skills, start a business and even how to write. The possibilities are virtually endless.
Non-fiction also includes medical, travel, space books and whole host of other texts. Obviously, the most important aspect of non-fiction writing is to write about what you know best. You must do your homework and become an authority on your subject matter.
You must also have an angle or purpose. Why are you writing it? In answering that question, you must answer the questions: who, what, why, when and how. For instance, if you are writing on how to balance your budget, your purpose is to help people gain control over their finances. You must decide whether you are aiming at the poor, middle class or wealthy. What do they need to know and why? When should they begin their financial planning and how?
For general non-fiction writing, you must decide on the right ‘point of view’ and ‘narrative voice.’ For instance, if you are writing about a personal and painful experience of your own, you might want to present it in the first person. However, if you are not ready to tell the world it was ‘your’ experience, you will need to write it in the third person. If you’re writing an academic book, you might want to write in the third person in a ‘professor’s’ voice. If it is a book about a conspiracy, you might want to adopt a ‘suspicious’ tone and so on.
Next, choose your setting, which for non-fiction writing should be an actual place. If this is not possible, you will need to recreate the setting as closely as possible. Then establish the time element and your character outlines. Again, these must be factual or as close to it as possible. You must then decide on your characters and who is the primary character. What is the plot and how important is it? Will there be actual dialogue in your non-fiction book? If so, make sure that all words, expressions and accents are authentic in relation to the time element. What genre does your book fall into and are you being true to form for that genre?
Finally, although your non-fiction book should be based on facts, you can be just as creative as a fiction writer to keep your writing from being too dry and boring. Don’t be afraid to spice it up a bit, but at the same time stick to the facts.