Writing non-fiction

The older I get, the more I enjoy non-fiction, and the more I read a little something on a subject and have a desire to know more.

Module eleven in my course focused on non-fiction writing, though I’m sad to say it didn’t quite live up to my hopes for the section.

It started largely as a list of titles and series various publishers already have. The most interesting thing I learned is that the publishing house, DK, doesn’t actually stand for Donkey Kong, but for Dorling Kindersley. Even after a year and a half working at a book store, I didn’t know DK actually stood for anything.

The section then talked about how educational or non-fiction books are much more of a team effort, simply because illustrations and visual aids are as important as the words themselves. Next it touched briefly on writing a proposal, mostly pointing out that, in non-fiction, the most important bit is to be able to prove your facts and information are accurate.

I did enjoy the section on biographies, which I think would be the most likely non-fiction avenue I’d pursue, should I choose to put the research time in. As the course authors point out, there are various ways to approach biographies, and there is ample room for quotes from interviews, diaries, and even published works, if they are well-known enough.

For the most part, though, this module didn’t include any specific information. Basically, it was a long-winded way of saying, do extensive research, then write it assuming the child has never heard of it before. It didn’t include any tips on how to find sources, nor how to check the credibility of them, which is a pretty important part of research and non-fiction writing.

Overall, I was a little disappointed with this module. Instead of how-to’s, it included way too many “here’s topics other people already wrote on.” Not even an analysis of what made it successful or advice on how to replicate the success in another topic, or how to look for ways to make a topic relevant in a new way.

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