nonfictionWhat is Nonfiction Writing?

Basically, nonfiction is writing (or another mode of expression such as photography or film) presented as fact. A work of nonfiction can be a/an:

  • newspaper or magazine article
  • academic paper
  • opinion piece
  • textbook
  • technical manual
  • travel guide or travelogue
  • book review
  • interview
  • biography
  • memoir or autobiography
  • personal essay
  • marketing copy
  • press release

How to Write Nonfiction


Once you have a subject, sit down, eliminate distractions, and allow your mind to wander. Brainstorming will refine your idea: maybe a different angle will make it more interesting; maybe a tangential topic will bring in the readers.


Research includes anything from interviewing to soul searching to poring through historical archives. Your research will flesh out your subject and may even lead you in unexpected directions. Be flexible.


With your research underway, you should begin to sort individual bits of information into larger topics. These larger topics will become the major subdivisions of your work and can begin to sketch your outline. Obvious? Yes. Easy? Maybe, maybe not. You may find that your writing flows from your outline, or you may need to do more research in some areas.


While every step in the process is equally important, editing will “finish” your piece. Whether you ask a friend to look for typos or hire a professional proofreader for a more thorough read, an editor can polish your work and make sure it’s ready for others to see.

One thought on “Five Steps to Writing Nonfiction

  1. James Wolf Bailey says:

    I am not sure which category my book would fall under. Yes, I have hope that it might be used as either a supplement to a history book or perhaps a something a college history professor might assign as a suggested reading. But I suppose I am writing it aimed at the reader who is mostly interested in history, American Indians, Great Plains Indian Wars, General George Custer, Battle of the Little Big Horn and so forth. I will be using all the techniques you provided, thank you so much.

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