When I was a teenager, I had dreams of being a novelist. When I was in Grade Eleven, my high school offered us the chance to do an extra project in a subject of our choice. If completed adequately, this project would provide for the notation of “with distinction” to be added to our grade transcripts. That seemed like a good idea to me since I’d be applying to university the following year. Having an area of “distinction” couldn’t hurt.
The problem was that I chose to do this project in English rather than math or science because I fancied myself a writer. What’s the problem, you might well ask? It’s this: my highest marks were in math and science, and I planned to study science in university. Go figure. Anyway, I did the project, part of which required me to write five short stories. Fast forward past my Master’s degree (in science), and you find me a bona fide nonfiction writer.
Thirty years later, I find myself writing both fiction and nonfiction. What this cross-genre writing does for me is to provide me with a breadth of techniques and ideas, each genre benefiting from the other. So, last week I was thinking about nonfiction writing and how often every writer, regardless of genre, needs to know nonfiction techniques.
Everyone writes nonfiction every once in a while. Even novelists have to write their author bios and the occasional book cover copy. Publishers expect it (so do readers, by the way).
This week’s 5 tips are all about improving our nonfiction writing.