A lot of writers hate being stuck in a specific genre. Stephen King is not known for his nonfiction but he has some, and Neil Gaiman is listed as a children’s author but a lot of his work is intended for adults. My first book deal is for a children’s story and though I am nowhere near as talented as the previously mentioned authors, I myself dabble in many genres. When you love reading and writing it is hard to choose one narrow field to pursue.
Lately I have been writing so much fantasy that I found myself needing a break and have recharged my efforts with the nonfiction book I had set aside for a while. It is a very contrasting form of writing from the imaginative sculpting of speculative fiction. It can be trying with all the research and structure needed but helpful if wanting to work another area of your brain. When constructing non fiction I have a pretty strict formula that moves quickly and dishes out content to spare.
The first ingredient has to be a well rounded idea that has been narrowed down, if it’s too broad it may come off as rambling or be more work than what was originally expected. Once that niche is set then comes the hard part, research. I shouldn’t have to say this but Wikipedia is not a valid source. Making sure to dig deep and find the most credible resources is important and not always easy.
Notes galore should accompany this research to help shape the story and thesis. My notes are hand written and usually scattered all over the margins of the paper as well, typing may be a better route for most people but I feel that the physical act of scratching out the words in my own handwriting creates more of a connection to the piece. I often circle extremely helpful points within the notes as I go along as well.
Then once that’s done all that is left is the act of putting the pieces of the puzzle that is nonfiction together. Come up with your main talking points, back them up and write it all out. A chapter a day is not uncommon for me, unfortunately sitting down to work on that chapter is my problem. The nonfiction book that I am currently working on sat for over a month waiting for me to get to it. You have to be in the right mindset and something just shifted over the past week and got me going again.
Science fiction and fantasy give me the luxury of being able to write when and where I choose. With nonfiction I have to be sitting in a specific spot for a long period of time. It’s harder to stop and take breaks as I lay out my next chapter. Nonfiction is definitely a non nonsense genre.