How do I make nonfiction writing topics not boring?

How do I make nonfiction writing topics not boring?

  • Fiction is entirely made up from the author’s mind.
  • Nonfiction is based off real life facts and historical events.

When I think of nonfiction my mind goes back to school, to the countless science and English papers. Next, I cringe and try to force the negative memories associated with nonfiction out of my mind. I’m not sure if I was alone but I didn’t know many people that enjoyed writing the fact filled papers for a grade.

I am surprised at the number of people that enjoy nonfiction. I think, “am I missing something, isn’t nonfiction writing topics boring?” All the countless papers in school ruined my view of nonfiction writing. The “rules” for all those papers were drilled into my mind, becoming the main focus. I wanted to achieve a good grade and meet my teacher’s requirements. The papers were dry and boring, who would want to read that?

I’ve now read a few books that are nonfiction pieces of work. They are extremely enjoyable and full of natural humor! The nonfiction novels I’ve recently read were: a friend’s memoir, Panhandle Pilot by Bob Adkins, Eight Women, Two Model T’s and the American West by Joanne Wilke and Director of the Tours by Fred Colvin.

I’m shocked that nonfiction authors do better than the fiction authors at group book signings.

At almost every signing a potential buyer will ask me. “Is it nonfiction, I don’t read fantasy.” First of all, that statement makes me grind my teeth and force a fake smile on my face. This statement annoys me because immediately I judge the reader as closed minded. If they would simply look at my book they would know it didn’t fall into the fantasy genre. Some go on to explain they like to read books based off real life events.

Remember, nonfiction writers, life is not boring! There are so many intricate stories built into each day, where it’s brimming with emotion . . . so write the heartfelt stories, humor and insane details!

I think there are some important facts to remember when writing nonfiction.

  • Add emotion, and make the characters as real as they are or were in life.
  • Keep the story moving and don’t bog it down with pointless facts and details. Sure, there are going to be novels that are boring, but that’s because I may not be interested in the writing topics.

I recently read a very popular book a coworker had lent to me. It reviewed the life of the main character. Though the events of his life were fascinating, the never ending details slowed the story down, it lacked emotion and I lost interest. There wasn’t any “character” to the people in the story. I felt like I was being told the story, not shown the story.

Newspaper grape purple

Newspaper grape purple (Photo credit: NS Newsflash)

It is possible to combine the two? I did in Raining Gold in Windy Waterloo. Almost all the characters are based off people from my childhood and the story holds some version of reality. For example, my brother was bit by a beaver as a child when he was trying to find fish in our irrigation ditch. I fabricate a chapter where the main character, Zack, has to dive to the bottom of a lake to find a part of the treasure they are seeking. While there he is bit by a beaver.

Chrissy (my character) plays the crystal flute and piano in the story. In reality, I have a bachelor’s degree in music and teach both flute and piano on a daily basis. One more example, the story has a sleeping giant called “Manhead.” This is displayed on the cover of the book. There is truly a mountain that looks like the head of a sleeping giant in the valley (Waterloo) where I grew up.


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