Friday, May 24, 2019

How Young Nonfiction Writers Can Dig Deep, Part 3

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been sharing tips for crafting engaging nonfiction. Writing nonfiction involves more than just cobbling together facts. It requires digging deep and sharing information in a way that taps into who the writer is and how he or she views the world.

Last week, I suggested ways that writers can view the information they’ve gathered through their own personal lens. Today, I’m going to continue the discussion by taking an up-close look at another critical step in the pre-writing process to answer the question:

How can you add a little bit of yourself to the nonfiction you write?

In this post, I explained how I did that in a big way as I was writing Pipsqueaks, Slowpokes, and Stinkers: Celebrating Animal Underdogs. Today, I’m going to share how I did that in a small way—a way that’s more manageable for young writers—for a section of a book I’m currently writing.

As a recap, I started with this bit of information from my research file:

“Female flesh fly lays about twelve eggs at a time
When they hatch, female places maggots on a harlequin toad’s skin

The larvae burrow into the toad and feed on its body. They  kill the toad in just a few days."

Using one of the prompts I discussed last week, I quickly jotted this down my writer’s notebook:

Then I started thinking about ways to share this information with my readers and made a few more notes:
Next, I started making personal connections:

My notes about possibly sharing the information as a narrative made me think about helping my niece write a fractured fairytale for school. Maybe I could write a sort of twisted tale about the flesh fly.
When I spotted the word “surprised,” it made me think of the surprise party I had recently planned for my husband. Maybe I could include the idea of the information being surprising in my piece.
Even small moments from our lives can work their way into our writing and help to make it shine.

When it was time to write, I decided to create two different pieces and then see which one I liked the best. I’ll share them next week and also discuss how this “digging deep” technique helps to prevent plagiarism.


  1. I absolutely love your post 2 and now this post 3 containing the questions to ask yourself whilc researching your non-fiction writing piece. You've given my a new twist in thinking, one which I so badly need at this time, when I feel my story isn't getting my satisfaction I know it will be able to do, IF I can only wrap my head around the important thought line. Thank you for your continued help.

  2. So glad this is helpful, Virginia.