Sunday, June 29, 2008

Writing Non-fiction: Session 1 - Choosing a Non-fiction Topic



Writing Non-fiction:

Session 1 - Choosing a non-fiction topic
The first step in writing a non-fiction book is choosing the right topic. You may already have a topic for your book. If so, take the day off and we’ll join you back here next Monday. If you haven’t chosen your topic, read on. There's more to it than just deciding that you want to write about this or that. Asking yourself some questions might help you nail down the perfect topic for you.

Useful questions when choosing a non-fiction topic might be:

.... Are you writing the book for money?
.... Are you writing the book to get the word out?
.... Are you writing to satisfy others?
.... Are you writing to help others?
.... Are you writing just for fun? If so, have at it.
The answer to each of these questions will help you choose a topic for your non-fiction book. For example, if you are writing the book for money, you will want to carefully research the book market and see what non-fiction books are selling and what aren't. If you're writing it to satisfy others, such as a memoir to record the history of your life for your family, answering that question will help you choose your angle on the topic.

When choosing a topic, don't choose one that is too small or too large. For a non-fiction book to be effective, you'll want to cover the topic in enough detail to satisfy your audience and not put them to sleep. If your topic is too large (for example, The History of the World), you’ll be either writing forever, or you'll have to skim over the topic in generalities. If your topic is too small (for example, My Life on February 18, 2008), your book will be either too short to be considered a book or it'll be full of snoozer repetitions. Like Goldilocks, you want your porridge to be “just right.”

Once you choose a possible topic for your non-fiction book, test it out. Surf the net or visit the library. How easy or hard is it to find information about your topic? Also, it might be beneficial to visit book stores or libraries to see how many books are already out there on your topic. Then you’ll be ready to choose wisely.

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