Friday, April 16, 2021

Nonfiction 101: Answers to Your Burning Questions Handout

On April 17, I’ll be offering this workshop, which is hosted by SCBWI’s Southern Breeze Region. Here are some resources related to the questions submitted by attendees when they registered.

Can you explain the different nonfiction markets?

5 Kinds of Nonfiction offers a more detailed discussion of the nonfiction categories as well as various aspects of nonfiction craft, including text structure, text scaffolding, voice, style, point of view, and rich language. Perfect for writing teachers and aspiring nonfiction writers.


What’s the different between narrative nonfiction and expository nonfiction?


What do you think about writing “outside your lane”?
Please listen to Linda Sue Park’s excellent SCBWI podcast about cultural misappropriation. She recommends:

1.    Choosing something from your own identity that hasn’t been explored

2.     Collaborating with someone from that background to share the recognition and

3.     Giving the story idea away

4.     Immersing yourself and living the experience which could take decades


How can you turn a topic that isn’t a biography into a narrative?
Biographies and books about events and processes work as narratives because they have a chronological sequence text structure. If your topic doesn’t have a built-in chronology, it won’t work as a narrative. See this blog post for more info.

What’s the different between narrative nonfiction and
creative nonfiction?


What’s is informational fiction?
Check this post as well as this one from my blog. Also take a look at this Nonfiction Ninjas blog post by Wendy Hinote Lanier and this excellent essay by Candace Fleming and the late Karen Blumenthal.


How can I recognize a good topic? How can I give a tried-and-true nonfiction topic a fresh perspective? What’s the best way to make nonfiction creative and exciting? How can I “rewrite” my research so I’m not paraphrasing someone else’s work?

Many people seem to think that writing nonfiction is simple and straightforward. Just do some research and then cobble together a bunch of facts. But nothing could be further from the truth. That’s why 50 of today’s leading nonfiction authors came together to create Nonfiction Writers Dig Deep.

The goal of this anthology is to share a critical part of their writing process that often goes unseen and unappreciated. To craft high-quality prose, nonfiction writers have to dig deep. We have to get in touch with our passions and our vulnerabilities and use them to fuel our work. Discover how we choose a topic, find a unique and fascinating focus, and explore concepts and themes through our own personal lens to craft nonfiction that sings.


What does an agent expect me to have ready at the querying stage?
For a picture book, you should write the complete manuscript. For long-form nonfiction, it may be possible to secure a contract with a proposal and three sample chapters.


Do you offer critiques or one-on-one coaching?
No, but I highly recommend Emma Dryden and Catherine Frank.

What if I have more questions?
Join NF Fest, a Facebook community created and moderated by author Pat Miller. NF Fest also hosts an amazing virtual learning event each February, coordinated by Pat Miller and the Nonfiction chicks.

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