According to writer E. L. Doctorow, “There is no longer any such thing as fiction or nonfiction; there’s only narrative.” I agree.
While we tend to view fiction and nonfiction as opposites, the two are similar. Both require creativity, intentional storytelling, and an understanding of your target audience.
Your nonfiction story shouldn’t read like a dry Wikipedia entry. While you are limited to facts, you aren’t limited to boring. True events can be shared in a fresh and engaging way. Even though you’re documenting real people, you can still insert a little imagination into your storytelling without crossing into fiction territory.
In this post, we’ll discuss how to improve your nonfiction writing by sidestepping common mistakes. Let’s get started.
MISTAKE #1: NOT TELLING AN ACTUAL STORY
The human mind craves stories.
Even if your book is a self-help book and a collection of personal essays, you can use stories to illustrate an idea and provide context. Whether you’re writing a self-help book, a travelogue, or some other type of literary nonfiction, your book will benefit from the addition of a story. The subgenre dictates whether you write a single, overarching story or sprinkle multiple smaller stories throughout.
Whatever story you write, be sure to include the basic five elements of storytelling:
- Plot – The plot is a sequence of events and is a crucial part of storytelling. You must show how one event leads to another.
- Setting – The setting describes the time and place. The setting gives you story a mood and helps your reader engage. See More . . .