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5 Great Non-Fiction Writing Techniques

Nonfiction Writing Techniques

If you’ve got a stack of facts that you’re offering to people, then it can be difficult to formulate a narrative which keeps the reader engaged. This is the constant challenge that comes in the world of non-fiction writing and publishing. Far too often, the listing of facts, knowledge, and wisdom comes across as being stale and boring. It doesn’t have to be this way.

These non-fiction writing techniques will help you to hook your readers effectively. They will help you to craft a compelling narrative. Most importantly, it will help the readers to remember the facts that you’re offering them within your non-fiction book.

#1. Turn your facts into a compelling story.

Part of the human experience is to be attracted to a good story. In the past, these stories were one of the primary ways we kept track of our history. Today our stories become a way to relate to others who have had similar experiences or share similar opinions. Believe it or not, we all tell stories every day in some way. Even a Facebook status update is a story of some sort.

Your non-fiction book needs to tell a story because this is how we are engineered to remember things. You can turn facts into a compelling story by offering your personal experiences, showing people examples of what you’re talking about, or offering a comparison process.

For example: you’re writing a book about the benefits of quitting a long-term smoking habit. If you share a quick story about someone who has seen their health improve after they stopped smoking, you turn facts into a story.

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#2. Engage your readers immediately.

There is so much information being offered today thanks to the internet that it can be overwhelming to some readers. To counter this influx, people have started to only read the introduction of a piece of content or to skim the chapters or subheadings that are included. This means your non-fiction work needs to immediately engage readers to encourage them to invest into your information.

You can do this in several different ways. Some writers like to start by offering a joke. Others like to tell a personal story about why they wrote the piece in question. Sometimes asking the reader a personal question is enough to get them interested.

The bottom line is this: if you don’t engage the reader immediately, there’s a good chance you’re going to lose them.

#3. Be descriptive.

Humans are also visual creatures. We remember things better when we can absorb data through visuals, even if we picture those things in our imagination. This means the best non-fiction writing techniques involve emotional descriptive terms that help readers begin to decode the complex facts which may be offered within the text.

Be as specific as possible. Use power words that go beyond the mundane descriptions like “interesting” or “engaging.” If something is magical, superlative, or vibrant, you’ll invoke a powerful mental visual of your facts that will help the reader better relate to the text.

#4. Leave the jargon out of it.

Every industry has certain terms and jargon that are regularly used. When you’re writing non-fiction, you have to avoid these terms at all costs. You cannot assume your reader is going to know what the “juxtaposition of strongly dissimilar elements” means if you’re writing about chemistry. Maybe the reader has never studied any form of science in their life. How can you make sure you still get your point across to the the reader?

You do so by using simple, plain language whenever possible. You might not be able to take out every technical term possible, but you must make an effort as a writer to make the facts you’re discussing as understandable as possible.

There is an exception to this: if you’re writing a non-fiction book to a specific niche of people within one specific industry, then jargon and technicalities are appropriate. If you are targeting a general audience, then it would not be appropriate.

#5. Give them an unexpected twist.

We humans remember things that fit outside of our sphere of expectations. This is why we are more inclined to leave negative reviews than positive ones for businesses. It is also why non-fiction texts are more difficult to remember than fiction. We have certain expectations for the facts that we’re learning about.

If you can throw in an unexpected twist, you can make your text stand out. Offer a fact that isn’t expected. Ask questions that may not be anticipated. Follow up a key point with something that may seem contradictory and then reconcile the facts.


Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

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