Hello everyone. Today we’re talking about writing, and the topic is “creative nonfiction writing examples.”
A little while back I did some study in copy writing. It was the sort that you do for sales letters and things like that. One of the things that they advised us to do was to find a good sales letter and then copy it by hand. I’m not asking you to complete things by hand, but I do have some resources for you today. I’m going to give you six places to find creative nonfiction writing examples.
Here’s one from Tom Corson-Knowles. If you’re not familiar with Tom Corson-Knowles, I’ll give him a little plug. I studied his writing and read some of his books. Actually, when I did my first book on marriage as an e-book it became a bestseller. I had read some of Tom Corson-Knowles’ writing and I found it to be very helpful. That website is TCKPublishing.com. This article is apparently a guest article because it’s written by Kaylen Barron. The title of the article is “What is Creative Nonfiction? Definitions, Common Examples, and Guidelines”.
Now, for the finale: Drum roll! Here it comes! Here’s an example of creative nonfiction writing. As I mentioned previously, we’re only about a month away from the launch of my new book “How to Write a Book in 28 Days or Less Without Stressing Yourself to Death”. That would be a good example of nonfiction writing.
When we talk about creative nonfiction writing. Sometimes we can use narrative elements to illustrate the main points of what we’re talking about. So in this book, I give some examples and true stories from my own life that illustrate some of the things that are in the book. The stories are narrative. So, even though they’re nonfiction, not fiction, they are stories, much like fiction stories.
You also can borrow things from fiction when you’re writing nonfiction, to use as good illustrations of what you’re talking about.
Janet was walking along and saw the edge of the cliff. Then her right foot slipped! She didn’t regain her balance, and she slipped over the edge She began to slide down the slope. She grabbed a branch and was hanging on for dear life.
How does that relate to your article or chapter? It may not relate at all. But if it did, you would surely have everyone’s attention. Let’s talk about four nonfiction writing techniques.
First, you can use narrative items. Tell a story. The story can still be a true story, so you would still be writing non-fiction. You can also invent a story. In that case, you would be adding some fiction in with your non-fiction writing. At any rate, you can use storytelling or narrative techniques.
You can do that in the form of an illustration. After all, who doesn’t love a good story?
Another thing you can do is use the story arc to develop your material. You would have to do a little more research on what the story arc is, but it’s something you can do. Basically, you have a beginning, middle, and end. You have a problem, then a conflict, then escalating problems, and then solving the conflict. You can set up non-fiction writing in a similar manner.
Another place you can use that technique is in the introduction. You can use narratives in the introduction just like I did with the fictional story of Janet and the cliff. Or you can use a personal or historical story as you go about doing that.
A couple of other techniques that aren’t necessarily narrative in the introduction is asking a question or questions. You may be trying to solve a problem anyway, so you may want to restate that problem in the form of a question.
Another technique you can use in the introduction is interesting, unique, or funny thoughts at the beginning of your writing
So use narrative techniques.
Details, Details, Details
Also, use details. Sometimes, you need to have some details just to help with the clarity of your writing. You can also add sensory details. Talk about the smell, or sound, or the sounds in the setting. Use those sensory details. Sometimes, those sensory details relate to emotions. If you are involved in sales, many people tell you that people buy from emotions as well as from want. So use sensory details. Add emotional triggers where that’s appropriate to do so.
This is the second technique.
Keep it Simple
Third, use simplicity. Abraham Lincoln said if you have the choice between a simple word and a complex word, and the simple word will convey the proper idea, use the simple word. That was good advice coming from our 16th president. Use short or clear words where you can.
Use short paragraphs. One of the ways to use shorter paragraphs may be contrary to what you were once taught in school. In the old way of writing books, you may have had 2-3 long paragraphs per page. One of those paragraphs may have included five items within that paragraph. And that is a proper way of doing that. You would have a topic sentence, then you would enumerate the 5 items, and you may have a clincher sentence at the end.
The more modern way of doing that is to make that 5 paragraphs and have the topic sentence in the first paragraph with the first point, and the second item would be the second paragraph, third- third paragraph, fourth- fourth paragraph, and fifth – fifth paragraph. Or, you may have six paragraphs, with the topic sentence being a paragraph on its own, introducing that topic. You may even make it seven paragraphs, having a “clincher” paragraph/sentence at the end.
You’ll notice in a lot of online writing, a lot of blogs, and a lot of areas where you observe writing techniques, you’ll notice in modern-day copywriting, there is a lot of “white space,” or there is a line between the paragraphs, which gives more white space. That is if you have black letters on white paper, which is how it’s usually done.
So, use simplicity. Use short paragraphs and short, clear words, and white space where possible.
Variety is the Spice of Life
The last technique is to use variety. You can use variety in sentence lengths. I know I said to use short sentences, but don’t use only short sentences. If you do that, they will be like little bullets one right after the other. So you want some variety in sentence length. Many of them will be shorter because you made a conscious effort to do that, but some should be longer so you have variety.
Also, use variety in the sentence types. You have simple sentences, you have compound sentences, and even compound-complex sentences. You may want to use several short sentences, but for variety, you should throw in compound, and compound-complex sentences. Use variety in sentence length and types.
Another thing you can do is use variety in points of view. If you are using stories, either fiction or nonfiction, to illustrate your points, you can tell them from the first-person point of view. You may have been talking about something that was a personal experience. In that case, you would say, “I did this. I did that.”
Another story may relate to someone else and you may speak about that in the third person. Sometimes, you can tell a story about someone else, and you can tell it as though you are that character. You should make clear to your reader that you are not that character, but you can tell it in first-person.
If you’re writing conversationally, many of your sentences will be the second-person point of view where you’re addressing the reader as “you.” Or you could do a third-person point of view.
Think of each story as a scene in a movie. You just don’t want to change the point of view within the scene or illustration. The first story may be from the first-person point of view, and the next may be a third-person point of view. Just don’t mix the two within the same illustration.
These are some nonfiction writing techniques that can make your chapters or articles more interesting. 1. Use narrative items. 2. Use details. 3. Use simplicity. 4. Use variety.
For more writing tips, head to Randy’s Blogs. On the top of the page, you’ll find a heading labeled “writing”. There is a lot of helpful information there. This article relates to the idea of steps to writing success.
To get even more help and advice, check out my book, ” How to Write a Book in 28 Days Without Stressing Yourself to Death”. Just go to Amazon.com, type in the full title in the search bar, and you’ll be able to purchase either an eBook or a print book. ( Note, the book is officially launching in November, 2021. I encourage you to participate in the launch. There will be some perks during the launch.)
I hope this has been helpful for you. Happy writing!
There are three simple steps to success for non-fiction authors. Here, I will explain how to lay out a book plan and get started writing a great book. Writing non-fiction books is one of the best ways to start as an author.
Step One: The Big Idea
Come up with a big idea. Figure out what the reader’s main desire is. Figure out what the reader wants to accomplish. Another way of looking at that is what is the main problem he or she wants to overcome?
What Problem Are You Solving?
Figure out the problem you’re going to solve. You may have already done that trying to figure out the big idea. If you haven’t now is the time. Look at a specific problem that the reader would like to have solved. Also, think about what are his/her past obstacles in this area. They obviously haven’t overcome those or they’d have no need to read the book you’re planning on writing. So, figure out the big problem that you’re going to solve.
List the Steps
List steps taking the reader from where they are now to where they want to be. How do you get started? That’s often the main question for someone trying to solve a problem. Just where do you start? Analyze that situation and help them answer that question. Another thing is to figure out is what obstacles will have to be overcome to get the reader from where they are now to where they want to be.
Once you have those general ideas for your steps, then figure out what is the first baby step to take. List that first. Then think about other steps that will lead them to the best chance for success in that area. Then, list the steps in the best order. It may be chronological, or some other way. Whatever is the best order. Try to come up with at least 8 steps. You have the general idea of how to get to the solution, just keep breaking that big idea down into smaller steps.
You can come up with a concept for your book…that’s the big picture. You can identify the problem that the writer wants solved. You can break the journey into progressive steps. You can lay out a plan for your book!
If you are an author or aspiring author, and you want to learn how to make this process even easier, go to Amazon and search for my newest book, “How to Write a Book in 28 Days or Less Without Stressing Yourself to Death” by Randy Carney. If you are reading this before October 15, 2021, you may want to wait until launch week on October 15, where you can get a discount for a limited time.
Writing nonfiction eBooks can be a great way to get your writing career off the ground. It’s often easier and quicker than going the traditional route.
There are four main steps processes involved. The first is coming up with a general idea. Next is coming up with a more specific plan. After that, is the execution of the plan. Finally is the publishing step, and you have your end result.
The Big Idea
Having a general idea is all well and good. But an important aspect is finding out what, exactly, your readers are interested in. They want to know things related to what you are interested in. You’ll need to do a survey. Ask people what problems they have and need to be solved and what they are interested in. Then the trick is to discover what you want to write about, what you know about, and what they want to read about. Find the overlap, and you’ll have your idea. You can write your eBook on what you want to write about and also help people with what they want to read about.
Now you move on to the plan You came up with the overall theme, or “big idea”, for your book. What is your book about, in a nutshell? You need to be able to state that in a paragraph or even one sentence.
Next, it’s time to come up with 10-21 working chapter titles. A few more than that is ok. Sometimes, if you start getting too many chapters, you can combine ideas.
Then you want to come up with chapter plans. This is very important. Come up with points for each chapter. Here’s a secret: It’s much easier to write an answer to questions. After coming up with 9-15 points for your chapter, turn those into questions. Then, for each question, give yourself little hints as to what you’re going to write as an answer to those questions. Lay that out for the whole book.
Write daily. Figure out how many minutes a day you can write. Make it at least 30 minutes, up to 75 minutes a day. If you can write 75 minutes a day, you can complete a rough draft of a 20 chapter 200 page book in about 20 days. The key is to write daily. Another key is to write a fast rough draft. Power through and get your rough draft done quickly. Just write, and do the editing later. Some people do prefer to edit daily, which is fine, but it will take longer each day if you do it that way. Just make sure you write every day and complete your daily goals. Doing it this way, you’ll be able to complete a rough draft fairly quickly and move on to editing.
You are the best editor for your book because you are the most familiar with what you want to say. It does have some drawbacks when it comes to proofreading. When you are proofreading your own work, your mind knows what you want to say, so sometimes it will put in a word when it’s not actually there. So, edit your book after doing the first rough draft. If you have the money and the inclination, you can hire a professional editor to help.
Publishing – The End Result
After the idea, plan, and execution, we come to the final step, which is publishing. If you are writing an eBook, I recommend self-publishing. If you’re doing both an eBook and a print book, then you have other ways you can go. If you do that, you can go 4 different routes.
First is traditional publishing. You’ll need to compose a good query letter and book proposal. You would then send those off to prospective agents. Then the agent would find a publisher for your book.
The second route is self-publishing. Especially with eBooks, you can come up with a PDF file that you can sell from your website.
The third route is using Kindle Direct Publishing. I have no connection with them, other than the experience of having worked with them in the past. They will allow you to publish a print book around the same time that you publish your eBook.
Another possible route is a hybrid publisher. It has some of the best aspects of traditional and self-publishing. They will offer you additional services, which you would have to pay for. They may offer editing services, marketing services, or cover design.
You have the idea, you have the plan, and you have written the book. Now get it published. Since we’re talking about a non-fiction eBook, I recommend either self-publishing via a PDF file on your website, or through Kindle Direct Publishing. You would then have it listed on Amazon.com
Crash. Boom. Lightning strike! Was it going to rain on our . . . (Well, not actually a parade)? Persistence, a key success trait for life and business, was going to figure prominently for us on that day.
Last Thursday, I went to Holiday World with Chip, my son-in-law, and Ralanna, my second oldest daughter. They have four children (four of my Grandchildren!). Three of them went with us. The eight-, thirteen-, and sixteen-year olds would be able to navigate the park very well. Their youngest stayed with my wife, Rhonda, who doesn’t care anything about most of the rides anyway.
We started the trip in a storm. Then the rain progressively seemed to get less and less heavy. We, after a couple of hours, could see bright spots in the clouds as we got closer to Santa Claus, Indiana. Yes, that’s really the name of the town where Holiday World is located.
However, about ten miles before the exit off of the interstate, what many would call a “cloud burst” hit–The hardest rain yet!
Would we have to go back home?
The rain let up again, and by the time we got to the parking lot, it was just a little harder than a sprinkle.
The bottom line–We went on in. We had plastic ponchos, and they served us very well.
The rain continued off and on. That was OK because after riding the old-fashioned cars, where even the youngest could drive, and the bumper cars, which were inside, we were in the water park the rest of the morning.
Right after we ate lunch, the loud speaker announced that weather with lightning was approaching and all rides would be shut down temporarily. So, for about 45 minutes we sought shelter in some areas with rooftops.
The storm ended, and we changed clothes and went to the other part of the park. Our ponchos came in handy again when we rode the Raging Rapids and the log ride, both of which usually drench us.
Several rewards and nice surprises came our way because we persisted through the storm: The crowd was much smaller than usual. The lines were shorter. We even rode the Raging Rapids three times in a row–which delighted Makenna, the youngest member of our party, very much. Because some of the larger rides were closed, we rediscovered many of the smaller and medium-sized rides. Again, the was a great benefit to Makenna. The weather was cooler than usual. Furthermore, since some of the major attractions shut down for two hours, we also found out that we get to use the same tickets for another trip with no additional charge!
What does this have to do with writing books, having online businesses and other entrepreneurial pursuits?
Realize the value of persistence. Many failed businesses have been estimated to have quit right before their moment of success. Many experts say if those businesses had just hung on a little longer, they would have made it.
So, persevere through the storm. Many unexpected benefits may come your way.
For you, success may be just around the corner and right after the current storm dies down.
Where are you in your business ideas? If you are thinking about writing a book, for instance, here is a great way to start.
Here is another post on writing. Specifically, about writing nonfiction PDF books. They are a great way to get started! Even if you’ve never written a book before, you can do this. If you have a computer and the capability of saving your files as PDF files, you’re ready to go.
Do you have a real book?
Several years ago, many people did not consider eBooks, or PDF books, to be real books. Then Amazon developed this thing called “Kindle.”
Not long after that, eBooks increased in popularity and credibility. Actually, in some years, Amazon sells more digital books than print books. I don’t know the current statistics on that, but I remember a few years ago that the number of digital books (eBooks) exceeded the number of print books that were sold during that year through Amazon.
They Practically Became Equals
What that meant was, that eBooks increased in popularity and credibility. In effect, they became “equals” to print books. A print book was a real book, and an eBook was a real book too.
Give People What They WAnt
When people want a book, they want what they prefer. I actually like holding a book in my hands and being able to rifle through the pages. I have also bought many eBooks, and I really like those too. So, some people will want a print book, some will want an e book, and some will want both.
I Highly recommend you do both
Now, even though I’m talking here about using a PDF file to get started with your book, I really think that you should have the goal to do both. Because once you have your eBook written and set up, and you’ve learned how to format it yourself, you just have so much of what is needed to send the file off for a print on demand (POD) print book. So I think that you should have the goal of doing both.
The distribution won’t be as wide, but it is a place to start
The way to get started is to simply to produce a PDF book. Of course, if you have it set up only as a PDF book, your distribution will not be as wide as it would if it was available via Kindle, Mobi, or an ePub format, but you will still have a book and it will be a real book. It will be a book that you can sell right from your own website. Some of you reading this may already have your own websites. If you do, then you are good to go, and you can get started with your own PDF book
8-1/2 by 11 produces a real book
PDF stands for portable document format. It’s something that’s often used to send things through email, because the file is not as large as it is in other formats. It’s also easier to use. You can produce an eight and-a-half by eleven real book. That’s just the easiest way to do it. Use your preferred word processing platform, Microsoft Word, for example. You can then set it up as an eight and-a-half by eleven, and come up with your own cover page. Then, learn about other pages you need, copyright pages and such, by looking at other books. Be sure to add them.
be consistent with size and formatting
Then you can just produce an eight and-a-half by eleven real book. You need to be consistent with the size of the words in different parts of your book. You can make the title whatever size you want it to be; of course it will be larger than the chapter titles, headings, and subheadings. Then figure out what size you want and just be consistent. Use the same type of formatting and style for the chapter titles, and do the same for each type of heading every time. If you use subheadings, again, be consistent with the formatting and style.
So, the title of the book, chapter titles, headings and subheadings: Be sure you’re consistent with what you are doing so that they all look like.
Once you get all that done, and you’re satisfied with the book, what’s next? You may have hired an editor to look at your book and go over it for you. Maybe you had a writing group look it over, give you all the input that you need, and you’re satisfied, and you think you have a book.
Get your cover page on there. You can hire someone to produce a good cover for you, but you also can do some yourself. If this is your very first book, and you’re experimenting, you might want to produce your own cover.
get a way to accept payment
Now, you can sell it from your own website. Get a shopping cart of some type or go to PayPal where you can accept payments, and then sell your eBook. It is a real book, especially nowadays. So that’s one way of getting started in the self-publishing world.
basis for print books
Once you have all that done, go back to your word processing file, go over to Kindle or some platform like Lulu.com or48 hour books, (I don’t get any kickback for mentioning those names) read their instructions, and you will have what you need to have a print book produced also. Then you will have an e book, and a print book, and you definitely would have a real book then.
If you did it through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), you certainly would have that book available on Amazon where people could find it. Some people say, “That’s another mark of having a real book, when it is on Amazon.”
So, here’s a nonfiction writing tip: writing nonfiction PDF books are a great way to start, especially if it’s a first book for you.
If you’ve watching this on YouTube, or in the link above, I encourage you to subscribe to my channel. There, you’ll be able to get more tips like these. Here on the blog post, you can go to the top of the page and click on the word “writing”, and you will find many many more tips.
Day before yesterday, I went out to use my chainsaw. I really like when I can start it back up several times during a work session.
I pulled on the starter rope six times. Then the saw uttered that familiar sound of actually starting and running for a second or two before it dies.
Then I gave it several more pulls, and it never offered to start again.
I tried putting the “on/off, run, and choke switch” in several position.
After that failure, I resorted to a YouTube search.
I found the problem. I had flooded the engine when I gave those extra pulls in the choke position.
The solution (and how I got it to work many other times, not knowing what I was doing)–When the saw offers to start the first time after a few pulls, immediately move the switch up one notch. Then it should start on the next pull.
They also showed a method for starting an already flooded engine, but it didn’t work that day.
Yesterday, I tried again. I pulled 5 or 6 times, and I heard what some call, “The Burp.” That’s when it runs for a second or two and then quits.
I moved the switch up one notch to the next position, and it started right away. I used it for several minutes until it died when I tried to let it idle.
Then, I couldn’t get it to start again.
So, I haven’t learned all the tricks, and there have been days in the past where I ran the saw for hours at a time.
Still, I know more than I did.
What is the writing solution? Like anything in life, keep learning and improving upon what you do know. You can do that by reading books, buying courses, investing in coaching, and, most of all, persistently and consistently working on your craft.
If you would like more detailed writing tips, click here.
When talking about writing nonfiction articles, we want to talk about where you can have these articles placed, the length of the articles, the research required, the structure, and the best places to put your articles.
Jill, heard the phone rang. She ran and answered it. She heard from an editor of a magazine that she had been hoping to write for. Then she woke up.
Wouldn’t it be good if you were to have a magazine editor call you and offer you an opportunity to write an article? Not only to write one article, but to write many short nonfiction articles, on any topics that you are passionate about, as many articles as you wish, with no chance of rejection! Well, that would be an even greater dream for Jill, and for us.
Where Can I Publish My Articles?
Let’s talk about where we can put articles. It can be in magazines, on websites, and they can some sections of newspapers.
How Long Should I Make My Articles?
What about the length of your articles? If you do some research on this, you will find one site says anywhere from 800 to 1000 words, while another site says 500 to 1500 words, and another one says 300 to 1000 plus So let’s just take the outside parameters of that and say 300 to 2000 words.
Considerations for Research
We also need to think about the research that’s involved. What kind of information do you need, and then how much information do you need? That will depend on how many words you’re shooting for. Where is the best possible place to get it? Well, think about what you’ve ever read on this topic. Think about what you’ve ever thought about this topic – you have your own research. Think about what you have written. Then turn to outside sources.
Now, the internet has provided us a wonderful thing in being able to do a search on many different topics. So you can go do some online research. But whenever you do this, need to be a little more careful maybe then in the past on checking some of the sources for online articles or information. You may find three different places that say about the same thing, and you discover that they got all their information from the same place. So just be careful in checking out where you get your information when you’re verifying it.
Then you can talk to interesting people. If you know somebody who is an expert in the field or somebody that has experience in the area, you can interview them. Now you can even do that from a distance. You could do it over the phone or Skype or Zoom or some other online platform. Of course you could meet with them in person too.
Next, you’ll want to add some interest factors. These could be interesting facts that are related to your topic; maybe not directly related to what you’re writing about but you can throw in an interesting fact or two. You can start throw in some humorous items, that are related to your topic in general. Also, as I mentioned in the last post, you could add some stories that would illustrate your point.
So, we talked about where, and the length, and the research. Then you want to structure your article. It would have a beginning, a middle and an end.
The beginning you want to try to hook your reader, tell them why they need to read your article, and state the main point your article. In the middle, you will have more paragraphs that give more detail. Then at the end you tie it all together.
Where is the best place to put your articles? I mentioned magazines at the beginning. Those are still good, maybe harder, may not be as good as it used to be. Also newspaper. You could pitch an article to newspapers. Or, you could place them on a website. Probably the best website would be your own website, where you would have your own website and your own articles.
By placing these articles on your own website, you will be building a platform. Then when you get ready to write your book, you can pitch the idea to an agent who would contact a traditional publisher for you. One of the things they will be interested in is your platform. Do you have a platform and a following? One of the best places to build that is on your own website or own blog.
One of the reasons for having your own site or blog, building a platform of course. But think about it: You are in complete control of your writing; you own all of that content. You get to write on topics of your choice. You have no boss to answer to except yourself, you set your own hours, you can take off whenever you want, and you can write from anywhere.
I hope that you will consider writing nonfiction articles.I hope this has been helpful to you. If it has, and you’re reading this on my blog, and if you’d like more tips like these, then just go to the top of the page and click on the word “writing”, and you will find many articles about writing there. You can find the blog at www.randysblogs.com Please also check out my YouTube channel and subscribe for more great content.
“Writers Panel – How Successful Authors Wrote Their Books” is an excerpt from the class on “How to Write a Book in 28 Days or Less.” This panel discussion was one of the most popular sections of the class. Here is the transcription of the video that was lightly edited to change spoken speech into written speech. If you would like to know the stories of these successful authors, read on.
Randy: We are glad to have you with us tonight. Please introduce yourselves.
Kelsey Browning: My name is Kelsey Browning. I live in West Frankfort, Illinois. I have lived there since I was two and Johnston City before that, so Southern Illinois the whole time. I am married to a farmer, Kendall Browning. We live on this little family farm with my three rotten but adorable kids.
Shelley Wilburn: I’m Shelly Wilburn. I’m also from West Frankfort. I’m married to D. A. Wilburn. He is a carpenter, and we have three grown children, and almost four grandchildren.
Shelley: Almost. We have one on the way.
Idella Edwards: My name is Idella Edwards. I was born and raised in Aurora, Illinois, and my husband and I have lived in eight different states.
We retired from Oklahoma, and looked at Oklahoma and said, “Do we want to stay here for retirement, and we said, ‘No.'”
So I got on the Internet and picked Marion, Illinois, for our retirement. We have five children and 12 grandchildren.
Randy: Okay, so tell us about some of your books. We’ll go in reverse order,. So, Idella, you can start.
Idella: Well I have four Christian devotionals, and then I have four children’s books. I have a poetry book, and then I have another one I call my grandchildren book, Parenting 101.
I’m really jealous of these two, starting so young, because I didn’t start writing until I was retired. In fact, I started writing because I came to Marion, Illinois to join Aldersgate United Methodist church. After we got there, Susie Rice started teaching a class. I started writing encouragement emails to the group as a whole, and then after a while, I thought I needed to collect those and put them in a book, you know, so that’s kind of how I accidentally got started.
Shelley: I currently have two published books. The titles are Walking Healed. They’re both titled the
same thing. One is just the Walking
Healed book. It’s a journey of forgiveness grace and hope.
The second book is the Walking Healed companion study, which is the Bible study guide.
I got into writing when I was 12 years old but not full time until about five years ago, when God healed me of over 40 years of depression and mental and emotional abuse, and that’s what my book is about — overcoming. It’s about overcoming your obstacles and things in your life. I’m currently working on my third book, which is another Bible study, and it’s titled, Warrior Princess. It is about discovering your identity in Christ.
Randy: And I would say that Shelley was in the first version of this class.
Shelley: I was.
Kelsey: My book is called, Here I Am. It’s part of a series. It’s young adult fiction.
It starts out as the story about two teenagers, and friends. Then it spreads from there to things that are going on in their lives.
I’ve had a lot of readers that are a lot older than teenagers where I originally geared it. I actually have found that, to my knowledge, one teenager has read my book. Therefore, I hesitate to call it teen fiction.
For me, writing a book was an accidental beginning as well. My friend growing up, always, always wrote short stories. Any opportunity she had, she was writing. I was looking for hobbies, and then I just sat down, and God kind of just gave it to me. I never, never, planned on being a writer, but that, that’s how I got started, so it was just kind of an accidental thing.
Questions and Answers
Randy: OK, Now we will open it up to you class members to ask questions.
Lynn Masters: Did all of you do this in 28 days, or was this kind of like you had the basics but kind of extended past that?
Shelley: Once I got started, it went really fast. Now, when I wrote the companion study to Walking Healed, I already had a basic outline. It wasn’t really a blueprint, but I was supposed to teach a class on my Walking Healed book, so I had written out notes. I took those notes and wrote the Bible study in about 5 weeks.
Kelsey: It’s hard to give a timeline, because I have 3 little ones. Some days, there was no working on a book. I’m a stay-at-home mom, so some days It depended on the kids. But as far as the fiction process goes, when I was making it up in my head, sometimes I had to stop and walk away for a while. I’d have to let what I had written marinate and build, and see where the character was going.
Sometimes I’d go a week where I would write all night long, for hours on end. Then I might go 2 or 3 weeks and not touch it because nothing was coming. So that’s how I had to write. When it is there, get it out, but it may not come back for a little while. So my timeline is all kinds of messed up.
Randy: That’s a good transition to what I’m going to talk about next week. Abandoning the basic technique. That will work, it can work, and can even work for fiction. The best thing is to find out what works for you and then correlate with other techniques, like the ones presented earlier in the course. I am going to encourage you to come up with sort of a blueprint because it’s a good thing to fall back on if you need it. Another thing about producing a blueprint is that the process helps clarify in your mind what you’re doing.
Their Unique Writing Processes
Debbie Neal Crawford : I’m interested in the process of the writers. Are you a morning person,? Do you write it it out? Do you type it? Are you disciplined in your daily schedule?
Shelley: When I sit down to write, I am. However, I could be driving down the road and get inspired. I do a lot of talking in my car on my phone and then I transcribe.
As far as when I wrote Walking Healed the companion guide, I had notes, not really an outline, and I would sit down every morning for 3 hours and write.
When I wrote this one, it was just whenever I was inspired, I would sit down and write. Some days it would be 8 hours, and some days it would be 3-4.
Randy: Did you have a regular schedule for when or how often
you would blog?
Shelley: I’m not very faithful right now. But in the beginning, I would make sure I posted at least 2-3 times a week.
Kelsey: I was a night owl. Once everyone was asleep–when everyone was in bed–it was quiet time. I could never concentrate in the mornings. In the afternoon and the middle of the night was my best writing time. I listen to the radio in the car and that’s when it would hit me. Music at other times helped too. Tons of stuff in this book came from listening to music.
Randy: Did you do any voice recording and transcribe it? Of course your transcription doesn’t have to be word for word like what you said originally. You are the author, so you can change it up however you want.
Kelsey: I would record on my phone and listen to it later. It helps to listen to it later and see if it makes sense. Sometimes hearing it back helps.
Randy: So, Kelsey, you are a night owl. I can identify. Shelley, what about you?
Shelley: I’m a night owl.
Randy: And Idella?
Idella: I’m a morning person. I don’t know if my books would fit into that 28-day time frame. With devotionals, you have to write the ideas down when they come to you, you can’t wait.
Don’t tell the preacher, but some have been written on the back of the church bulletin.
Shelly: I’ve written a lot of blog posts during
sermons. I even told my pastor, “I just
want you to know that your sermon prompted a blog post.” He said, “Any way I
can help.” At least he’s a good sport.
Kelsey: Even with fiction, I get that too. Sometimes, it would even be the answer to some little conversation that needed to happen, and I was having trouble finding a way to put it. Sometimes, I would hear it in a sermon. He would put it a certain way and make me think of it in a different way. It sometimes would help fill out little pieces – that’s where I would always get stuck – just little pieces of conversation that didn’t sound right. There were several times, through sermons, that I pieced the conversation together.
Dan Masters: Are you on the best seller list yet?
Kelsey: I’m barely on the sellers list yet.
Idella: My purpose for writing, at my age, is more to leave
a legacy than to make a million. I know
I’m not going to hit that million.
Debbie: Are your books from Create Space or…
Idella: I used Lightening Source.
Shelly: I went through Ingram Spark, which is a division of
Kelsey: WestBow Press.
Randy: I told Kelsey that I was excited to hear from her because I am familiar with WestBow press. If you remember we talked earlier about self-publishing, traditional publishing, and what I would call hybrid publishing. That’s how I would classify WestBow. I would say it is a hybrid publisher.
Idella: What is hybrid publishing?
Randy: Hybrid publishing is sort of a cross between self publishing and traditional publishing. When you use a hybrid publisher, you don’t completely self-publish; they do things for you. In their case, they have several different packages. The more they do for you, the more you pay for the service.
Kelsey: They’ll even help you with marketing, but you’re looking at lots of money there. That’s where I had to bow out. I just had to figure it out on my own. They designed the cover (holds up book). They asked me for ideas, and gave me a web site to look at some standard art. You fill out their questions, and they would email you a first draft. I loved my first draft, but you can send it back. Now if you tell them, “No, let’s try something else” more than twice, then they’ll charge you for another round of it. I understand that, because I’m sure they get people who are never going to be happy. They did that, and they took care of all the copyrighting, and the ISBN number. They have part of a package where you can get what is called a book-seller’s return, so, in theory, (I haven’t done this yet) it’s easier to get book stores to take them because the company will buy them back if they don’t sell. So it kind of gives them a free out instead of wasting their money if it doesn’t sell.
Hybrid is what they pretty much call it, too. It’s kind of an in between.
Randy: I didn’t know if I’d coined that term or not.
My first book was through a printer called 48 Hour Books, and they will print your book very quickly for you. Their cost per copy is a little higher, but my wife and I were doing a marriage seminar, and I wanted the books to be available for that. I happened to be in Mexico on a mission trip. We spent the nights on the Texas side. I remember the night I took the plunge, and I pushed the button on the 48 Hour Books. When I got home, I did get the books. I don’t recall if they got there in time for the seminar, but it was just a couple of days. I was pretty happy with them.
Then I did Create Space, which is similar to Lightening Source or Ingram Spark for the second book.
For the third book, I used a hybrid publisher, and it’s called FWB Publications. (FWB stands for “For Worthy Books”). I’ve been very happy with them. There is a whole lot of responsibility back on me with them, as far as proofreading and that.
Now WestBow, I think, goes over the final copy more in-depth than what mine did. I had to be sure what I presented to them was absolutely what I wanted
Kelsey: They’re extremely helpful (WestBow Press). I’m a stay-at-home mom and my husband is a farmer, so we don’t have a lot of extra money. They would tell me the amount, and I’d tell them, “I don’t have that right now, I’ll have to save it up.” They would call me back, but only about once a month. They didn’t just call and hound, and hound, and hound while I got the money saved up. The package I got, which is pretty inclusive, was about $3000. But they pretty well lined out everything.
Copies, ISBNs, and Covers
Debbie: How many copies of the book did you receive?
Kelsey: Around 50. There were some hard-backs. They set the pricing because of the pricing company that they go through. The paperbacks were reasonable; they were $17.95, which I think is reasonable. But the hardbacks were $30 and nobody is going to by a $30 hardback book from an unknown author. I don’t try to push those too much. I would say, “Don’t pay for extra hard back books in the package.” It came with business cards, bookmarks for promotion, post cards for promotion. What i received was more than just the books.
Idella: Lightening Source is much, much cheaper, but I don’t pay any extra for marketing, other than $12 a year to be on Amazon.com. I buy my own ISBN numbers; if you buy 10 it’s cheaper than one. I think one is $125 and 10 is about $250.
Shelly: I just bought the 10.
Idella: I’m on 20 now. I design my own covers, but I’m not smart enough to get my cover on the Lightening Source form, so I hire a former employee that does that for me for $100. Other than that, I just send in my PDF.
Kelsey: The cover design was included in the package, too. I forgot to mention that.
Shelly: I designed my cover, too. It’s my daughter-in-law walking down my driveway, and I hired a photographer I go to church with. All in all, I got a pretty good deal. I went through Ingram Spark. You order your cover template, and you send it to a cover person, which is what I did, and he charged me $50 per cover, which I didn’t think was bad at all.
I do have pictures in my Bible study, too. We had them done. My pictures tell stories, too.
Idella: (Holds up book) This is the premium color, but for my devotionals I used the standard color, which is cheaper.
But the one nice thing I like about Lightening Source is that I can buy one copy or 100. I’m not obligated to buy a certain number.
Shelly: They’re a print on demand, or POD company, which means you don’t have to order a set amount, They don’t send unneeded books to you, and they don’t have a bunch of your books sitting in a warehouse, either. When anybody orders your book, they print it right then, and they mail it out. I do have one box of each of my books that I carry with me to have on hand.
Lynn: How many books are in a box?
Shelly: It depends on how big your book is. But you don’t have to buy a box, you can buy however many you want. You set the price for your books at retail and then you buy at below wholesale, which is $4-$5 a book. (Idella nods agreement.)
Kelsey: That’s pretty well the same for WestBow Press too.
Dan: So you set the price?
Getting on the Amazon Bestseller’s List
Shelly: Yes. I will also say that when this book (holds up book) came out, I decided to do it in e-book form, so this is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, CoBo, and Apple iTunes for $2.99 as an e-book and $13.99 retail. I like the idea that they can get either/or and I’ve had a lot of success with that. The day that this one came out, it hit the Amazon top 50 in the first hour.
Randy: Was that on the digital version or on the paper version?
Shelly: It was on the digital version.
Randy: The fastest way to bestseller status . . . .
Shelley: It came out before the paperback. Yes, It’s the fastest way.
Lynn: What made it go so fast? Did you post it on Facebook? I’ve seen posts like that.
Shelly: We did a lot of “Coming Soon”, and it was up for
pre-order as well, and I posted that on Facebook. I have a lot of Facebook friends, and my
editor, who is also my friend, posted on hers, and authors help authors. I’m all about helping other authors. That’s one thing they taught me. So we were branching out, so when it did come
out, people were buying it up. Amazon
updates every hour, so I at least got an hour in the top 50.
Lynn: Do you have author pages, or do you have your own?
Shelly: I have both. I have a personal Facebook, and I have a Facebook author page. I also have my blog, and I’m on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. All those things help. I don’t use all those things all the time. Right now, my biggest thing is Instagram. When I post on Instagram, it will go to Facebook, so I’m hitting 2 or 3 with one post.
Randy: Do you have an Amazon page, an Author Central page?
Shelly: I have an Amazon author page, too. That’s important.
Randy: Our time is going. If you have questions, ask quickly.
Lynn:: (To Idella) On your devotional, is it daily or is it chapters?
Idella: It’s a two-page devotion, and I have discussion questions at the end if they want to use it for a group study. I don’t know how many are in there – they’re different sizes.
Randy: So, they’re not dated, like “January 1st”?
Idella: No, I don’t have them dated.
Randy: Rhonda, do you want to make a comment about the
returns at the book stores, since you’ve worked at a book store?
Rhonda: Generally, the print on demand books are not returnable. I don’t know about in your (Kelsey’s) case–if that’s different.
Idella: You can set it up however you want it. I’ve found the returnable option is not worth it. I got a whole box back one time.
Randy: The book stores are used to being able to return books. So, depending on what kind of marketing you’re doing, and what your reach is, you have to figure out if that would be something for you.
Lynn: Do the book stores allow you to come in and do book signings? Will the book store publicize it, too?
Idella: This particular book is at Handfuls on Purpose (Christian Bookstore) right now as a free giveaway. That gives them advertising, and it gives me advertising.
Randy: OK. You were here to help us, and you told us how you did it. What is one (or more) main tip or tips you would like to give aspiring authors?
Idella: I would say pray and listen, because God will lead
you in the direction you need to go.
Shelly: Do your research.
Check out all your options before you jump in to one certain thing; in
addition to praying.
Lynn: You’re referring to getting your book published?
Shelly: Yes. Do all your research and then decide what will
work best for you.
Kelsey: Write it. Just write it out. You can always edit, you can always change it, but if you have an idea, just get it down on paper, on the computer, get it somewhere. Even if it’s one you wind up throwing away, it may take you down a path you didn’t even think was where it was supposed to go. Just write it out. If I get too far out in the future in my head, my subconscious would just shut it down; but if I just get it out there, it works a lot better.
Randy: How can people get your books?
Idella: Amazon.com under Idella Pearl Edwards
Shelly: Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com. You’ll find me under Shelly Wilburn or
Kelsey: Also, at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, and WestBow press.com.
That was the end of that section of the class. I hope you found it helpful. If you would like more tips like these, you can can click on the writing tab at the top of the page.
How to write nonfiction – Turn your knowledge into words that can be shared in books and articles. Your life has given you a lot of experiences. From those experiences, you have gained knowledge. That knowledge can help people, and that’s what you want your book to do. But how do you go about putting that knowledge into words?
Writing From Mountains to Molehills
Several years ago, I wrote a book called From Mountains to Molehills: Overcoming and Celebrating Your Differences in Marriage.
The process of writing this book was easier than it was for some of the others That was because I already had some chapters written from a previous book that was divided into six parts.
I later decided to revise the original book, but then I decided instead to write a series of six books. Each new book corresponded to one of the parts in the original book. So, I had several chapters that related to that content that was about “Overcoming.” I think there were probably about 40 or 50 pages that came from those chapters. To come up with the new book, I thought more about the topic. How could I expand it from about five chapters to anywhere from 12 to 20 chapters? The final product ended up being 14 chapters after I got it all put together.
Then I thought more about what I had covered in the chapters that were in the “overcoming” part of the original book. As I thought about that, I looked for the gaps. What else did I need to talk about on that topic? Then I did research.
Part of that research involved putting out a survey, and surveying other books that related to this topic. Then I went back and filled in the gaps, and outlined those other chapters. Having completed that research, I was able to finish the book.
After that, I was able to go in and put in some of my own personal touches. I added some personal stories out of our own lives. Then, as I recall, I made up some fictional stories in that particular book and put those in at the beginnings of the new chapters. They were stories of Ralph and Elizabeth. Of course, Ralph and Elizabeth were not people that I really knew, rather they were composites of people who were experiencing the things that I was talking about.
Brainstorm What You Know
First of all, brainstorm what you already know. Just get a piece of paper, and start writing down ideas on that piece of paper. Set a timer for 15 minutes and write as quickly as you can. After the timer goes off, set it again if the ideas are still flowing. Keep doing this until things slow down and you run out of ideas. At this point, things will not necessarily be in order. After that, one of the ways that you can handle that brainstorming and reorganizing would be to put little symbols beside the topics. For instance, sometimes I put a little box beside sentences or phrases that are similar. Next, I find another group of similar phrases or sentences, and I put a circle beside those to differentiate between them and those with the boxes. You can think of other symbols for that purpose. I remember using a triangle one time when I did that. I also remember using a 5-pointed star, and an asterisk. I was able to group those ideas together. So you use a process like that to brainstorm what you already know.
Look for the Gaps
Then, you try to find the gaps. Ask yourself, “Will this cover the topic? Will this give my audience the help that they really need?” Once you answer those questions, you can do further research.
Research for Info to Fill the Gaps
When you find the areas where the information is lacking, it’s time to research your topic. With that added information, you can come up with chapters to fill in the gaps.
Get the Rough Draft Done
The next step is the most important: Get the rough draft down, just get a draft down. In most cases, that will help.
Some people are really good at writing and editing the same day. If you do that, then you just need to have a word count for each day. Others do really well by just rough drafting each day until they’ve got the whole book done. Sometimes those people use a timer, and write those sections until the timer goes off. They have a time goal for the day instead of a word-count goal. Then they go back and do the editing and refining. Either way though, get the rough draft down.
In some of the coaching that I do, I help people with writing rough drafts of books. I have two different methods of fast writing that can be used. I also have two different methods of how they can “talk” their content out. They can utilize their phone, even do a live video like my “Walking with Randy” videos. They have an outline, and speak the book. There are two different methods for doing that, but going into more detail goes beyond the scope of this blog post.
So, you brainstorm, fill in the gaps, research, and get the rough draft down. After that, you make it even more interesting.
Add Your Personal Touches and Stories
Go in and add your own personal touches and stories. Now the stories don’t all have to be yours, they can be stories of other people (with their permission to tell their stories). But, tell your stories where you can. That adds the personal touch. You can also make up stories that are actually composites of people you know. That’s what I did in the case of Ralph and Elizabeth.
You have knowledge, and you have knowledge that will be helpful to other people. I hope that this blog post will help you to be able to turn your knowledge into written words.
So, how to write nonfiction-turn your knowledge into the words. Again, I hope this has been helpful to you.
I will remind you that you can go to Randy’s blogs.com to get more writing tips like these. If you are already on the blog, you can click on the “Writing” tab on this page.
You can also get videos like this on YouTube. I would even recommend that you subscribe to my YouTube channel to get a sample of more videos like these. if you are a subscriber, on a rainy day, you can binge watch the whole set!