Tag Archives: Writing nonfiction

Chocolate Milk Comes From Brown Cows, and Freelance Writers– Write?

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Maybe you heard the news. It’s a fact that 7% of American adults, roughly 17.3 million people, think that chocolate milk comes from brown cows. If you are among those 17.3 million, read no further . . .

You’re probably wondering how the brown cow theory relates to freelance writing. Well, let me tell you! A surprising number of adults have no idea what a freelance writer does, and trying to explain it to them is like digging one’s self into a deep, deep hole.

I cringe whenever someone introduces me: “This is my friend, Jean. She’s a writer.”

Here’s what happens next.

“What do you write?” someone asks.

450c2ca7a249674a727a02491d1e4d1c(I begin digging.)

“I’m a freelance writer.”

Blank stares.

(I’m up to my ankles now.)

“I write mostly nonfiction for Christian publishers.”

There’s a pregnant pause. Then someone asks, “What are your stories about?”

(I’m in up to my knees.) “I don’t often write stories. I mostly write nonfiction—devotionals, books of prayers, things like that . . .” (I’m up to my waist now, and the person who introduced me is long gone. I’m in this alone.)

“So, where do you get the ideas for what you write?”

(I return their blank stare, and I pause–pregnantly. ) “The editors I work for give me some ideas about they want me to write, and then I create a manuscript . . .”

(Ouch! I shouldn’t have gone there. I’ve dug myself in up to my neck.)

images“Oh, you write scripts! Do you write plays? Do you write scripts for movies? Have you written anything famous?”

(Good grief! I’m in over my head!)

“No. No . . . I’m kind of like a reporter. I get assignments to write something, and then I write it . . .”

(I’m dug in so deep now that I hear my voice echoing.)

“I WRITE! I JUST WRITE!!!

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Freelancers, does this sound familiar? What do you say when someone introduces you: “This is my friend. He/she is a writer”?

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Filed under Freelance writing, Humor, Uncategorized

5 Things to Remember When Writing a Nonfiction Book

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Unless your goal is to write a scholarly textbook, you don’t want your nonfiction book to read like one. Here are five ways to write nonfiction that grabs and keeps your readers’ attention.

1. Get Personal. Engage readers by making your message about them.

Ask questions: Isn’t is frustrating when . . .?

Interject some humor: Short people unite! God only lets things grow until they’re perfect. Some of us didn’t take as long as others.

Include relatable stories about your own life. But be careful. Unless you’re writing a memoir keep your message centered on your readers.

2. Be Creative. Consider writing narrative nonfiction—nonfiction that reads like fiction. Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing” series is an excellent example.

(Lincoln) paces the upper deck of the steamboat River Queen, his face lit now and again by distant artillery. The night air smells of the early spring, damp with a hint of floral fragrance.—From “Killing Lincoln” by Bill O’Reilly.

imagesYou could also write an informative book that is mostly memoir. For example in my book, An Issue of Blood, Facing Uterine Cancer With Faith, I combine memoir, factual information, and biblical history to keep my readers engaged.

Keep it real. Don’t change facts. Concentrate on adding imagery, emotion, and personality.

3. Say it Simply. Everyone hates instruction manuals saturated with confusing terms and diagrams.

keep it simpleKeep facts and figures simple.

Cut out unnecessary words.

Use lists.

Connect readers with facts using phrases like, “Did you know. . . ?” Or weave the facts into a narrative sentence or paragraph: “Imagine living in a fully functional house that is just under 500 square feet.”

Avoid unfamiliar words and technical terms. If you must use them define them simply.

4. Write With Authority. Check your facts against multiple sources and make absolutely sure they are correct. Never connect facts with words and phrases like:

“In my opinion”

“I believe”

“I think”

“Maybe”

Write in a confident but friendly voice.

5. Know Your Message

 “Every successful piece of nonfiction should leave the reader with one provocative thought that he or she didn’t have before. Not two thoughts, or five—just one.”
—William Zinsser On Writing Well

 Think about your goal.

Do you want to persuade your readers to take action?

Is your purpose to inform?

To explain how to do something?

To entertain?

Before you write know your purpose, then write with that one purpose in mind.

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and inspiration for writers.

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*NOTE: Any ads appearing in this post were not put there by me nor do I endorse them. WordPress sometimes posts ads in exchange for hosting this free blog.

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Filed under Freelance writing, Uncategorized, Writing craft, Writing nonfiction, Writing Tips