Whether you’re trying to boost or start a career as a freelance writer, write a nonfiction book, or simply write articles to build your credibility as an expert in a particular area, you need to write clear, powerful, and interesting nonfiction to do that.
Here are a few tips that should help.
1. Create catchy, but meaningful, titles, subtitles, and headlines. A dull title won’t attract readers. But a jazzy title that doesn’t let the reader know what the article or chapter will be about isn’t good either. You want a title that interests readers because it lets them know the article will contain information they want and need.
Visit a bookstore or newsstand and scan the titles on magazine covers. You’ll notice that many of these titles contain numbers or steps – “A Dozen Ways to Lose 5 Pounds in 5 Days” or “12 Signs That Your Husband is Cheating on You” – that kind of thing. Both of those titles let the reader know what kind of information will be found in the article itself. Using numbers lets the reader know there will be enough information to make it worthwhile to read the article. And, the numbers in the titles lead the reader to believe the articles will be fairly easy to read since they will probably be much like a list of information.
2. Make sure the information in your article or chapter flows logically from one paragraph to the next. This is why it’s so good to include numbered steps to your article if it’s a how-to piece, or subtopic headings in other types of articles. These steps or subtopic headings “lead” the reader through the article, one step or chunk of information at a time.
3. Make sure your article or chapter has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Nonfiction is just like fiction in that it should include these three parts. For nonfiction, your beginning is usually just an introductory paragraph. The middle is where you provide the “meat” of your article. And the end is a concluding paragraph that sums up what your article is about.
4. Make your article easy to read. Generally, today’s readers are impatient. They prefer shorter sentences, shorter paragraphs, and shorter chapters or articles because they are easier and faster to read. Just be sure your article is packed with quality content – information readers can actually use.
5. Include a variety of sensory details in your nonfiction. To write engaging nonfiction, use some of the same elements that you do in fiction. Sensory details help bring information to life. Set the scene for nonfiction, just as you do in fiction, if you’re relating a specific event. For example, if you’re writing an article about a marathon that recently took place in your town, make readers feel they actually experienced this race by including various sounds, smells, and sights from this event. Maybe the race took place downtown, next to a coffee company, and the air was rich with the scent of roasting coffee beans as the runners raced past you. Or perhaps the crowd roared as the race began and the runners took off in a huge herd. You get the idea.
6. Use primary sources for your information whenever possible. Primary sources are where you get information “straight from the horse’s mouth” so to speak. Interview people who witnessed or took part in the event you are writing about. If your article is about a recent scientific discovery, for example, try to interview one or more of the scientists responsible for this discovery and quote them in your article.
Use these tips as a checklist the next time you start a nonfiction article or the next chapter to your nonfiction book. You should see your nonfiction become better, more powerful, and more engaging immediately.
P.S. Learn the “tricks of the trade” for writing better, more powerful, more engaging nonfiction in my 52-week e-course. Find out more and register for the course at www.writebetternonfiction.com.