5 Tips for Writing Nonfiction Stories

5 Tips for Writing Nonfiction Stories

By on Apr 22, 2016 in Non-Fiction, Writing & Editing


There are two facts about nonfiction stories. The first is that nonfiction doesn’t have to be a compilation of facts presented through dry prose. It can be written in a compelling way through good storytelling (while keeping true to the facts, of course). The second fact is that every category, from cooking to travel and memoirs can be written in such a way. What is the key to writing a nonfiction story? The key lies in the writer’s style and storytelling abilities. When it comes to nonfiction, the writer takes a pledge to keep true to the facts. This implies that any kind of creativity will only discredit the facts the writer presents. However, a writer can be creative and keep true to the facts, and below, you will find some tips on how it can be done.

1. Be fresh and authentic

There are plenty of niches in nonfiction, but the major categories remain the same. You might be writing a travel guide, a cooking book, or your own autobiography, but you’re not inventing anything new. However, your approach to the topic at hand will be unique. It is always a sound idea to read as many books as possible in your category and niche. You will get a good idea of how other writers have approached the topic, and then you can go in a totally different direction. This is especially important if you’re new to the nonfiction world – the best way to get noticed is to be fresh and unique.

2. Bait, engage, compel

After establishing a unique approach to writing nonfiction stories, you will need to work on your writing style. You need to give your readers information in an interesting way at the beginning – which is how you bait the readers. Continuing in an easygoing, flowing style will only engage the readers more and compel them to continue reading your story. This means that instead of presenting the results of your research, you can present a story: the process of the research, the results, and how the whole experience affected you.

3. Simple instead of sophisticated

When it comes to style and language, you don’t want your nonfiction story to sound like a textbook. Read it out loud to friends, family members or acquaintances – if they get bored, you need to work on your prose. Forget about long sentences and paragraphs that seem to go on forever. Short and sweet is always better than purple and sophisticated – it attracts more readers. You want your readers to both learn something and be entertained. Use humor if your topic is light, and deliver the information in short bits which can be pleasurably absorbed. Remember, your goal is to write a nonfiction story – not a recap of events.

4. Emotional persuasion

Put the reader in your shoes if you’re recapping events from your life. Invoke emotion in the readers with powerful words. Use all five senses to describe the places in your travel guide book. Abstract nouns detach the readers, while concrete nouns are tangible and pull the readers into your story. Let the readers know why you chose to write a nonfiction book on that particular topic. Have them feel like they know you just from reading your book. You’re writing about real things, presenting facts and information. The personal touch will add emotion and take your readers on a journey the same as fiction stories.

5. The actual story

The story needs to be memorable. Read through the newspaper. Which articles did you remember best: The report of the weather, or the true story where people were involved? Probably the second one. A tangible story will always win over a dry report. What you must remember about nonfiction stories is that the actual story must be memorable and interesting – but also that any dry report of facts and events can be made that way through a little bit of creative storytelling, without sacrificing the truth of the story, of course.

Image credit: Pixabay

Georgina Roy wants to live in a world filled with magic. As an art student, she’s moonlighting as a writer and is content to fill notebooks and sketchbooks with magical creatures and amazing new worlds. When she is not at school, or scribbling away in a notebook, you can usually find her curled up, reading a good urban fantasy novel, or writing on her laptop, trying to create her own.


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