Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Behind the Books: Mixing and Matching Nonfiction Elements


This year, I’m taking a close look at what I call the Nonfiction Triumvirate—nonfiction categories, writing styles, and text structures. So far, I’ve defined each of these three elements and provided lists of sample books. If you missed the discussion, you can scroll down or use the search box to see past posts.

Today I’m going to look at the interplay among nonfiction categories, writing styles, and text structures. As you are thinking about a manuscript from a big-picture point of view, it helps to understand how you can mix and match these three elements.

If you’re writing a Life Story . . .

  • Probably chronological sequence structure
  • Narrative writing style

If you’re writing a Survey Book . . .

  • Description/explanation, sequence, or Q & A structure
  • Expository writing style

If you’re writing Specialized Nonfiction . . .

  • Probably sequence or compare & contrast structure
  • Narrative or expository writing style

If you’re writing a Concept Book . . .

  • Sequence, compare & contrast, Q & A, cause & effect, problem—solution, or invent your own structure
  • Probably expository writing style

Next week, I’ll describe how I put this into practice.

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