Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Writing Non-fiction Part 3

Status: Ecstatic I finally finished sealing the cement in my driveway - and yes, it was as bad as I thought it would be.
Today's Song: "I Don't Care" by Apocalyptico

I'm sorry for taking so long to get to this part. I had family in town, and you know how sometimes when you have company other things get pushed back. But I'm back in the saddle (or computer chair) again and, as promised, here are some steps to writing any sort of non-fiction. This works for shorter pieces like articles, and even for something as long as a book.

So... drum roll... 5 Fast and Easy Steps to Writing Non-fiction.
(I have to admit I found these steps from this article, but I'm not sure who the author is.)

1. Brainstorm on your topic
2. Group your material
3. Check for more needed information
4. Order your groups
5. Write each section

That doesn't look like much when you just list them, but let's try this out, shall we? For our little exercise I'm going to pick "Triathlons for Beginners." I want you to know that I just pulled this off the top of my head, so I don't have anything prepared. (I also raced in my first Triathlon a couple months ago. Yea!)

Step 1 - Brainstorm
Don't limit yourself in this part. Even random thoughts could lead somewhere. So, here goes. (Remember I'm doing this as I write this post)

* types of triathlons
* how to train
* what to eat
* how to start
* music to keep you going
* do you need special clothing?
* good training program
* finding a triathlon to enter
* open water vs. swimming pool
* avoiding injury
* how long to train
* some famous triathletes
* is time important on your first one?
* the next step
* personal triathlon experiences
* swimming tips
* biking tips
* running tips
* how to not look like a drowning rat in the water
* passing etiquette
* what are those ankle things they wear?
* race day - what to expect
* how to stay motivated
* avoiding "bonking"
* spandex

I could just keep going, but that should be enough to get the point across.

Step 2 - Group your material
Take your brainstorming and start grouping things that may go good together.

Group 1- famous triathletes, types of triathlons (or basically, what is a triathlon?), open water vs. swimming pool

Group 2 - personal triathlon experiences, the next step

Group 3 - good training program, what to eat, how to stay motivated, music to keep you going, avoiding injury, swimming tips, how to not look like a drowning rat in the water, biking tips, running tips, avoiding "bonking"

Group 4 - finding a triathlon to enter, how to start, how to train, how long to train

Group 5 - what to expect on race day, do you need special clothing, spandex, is time important on your first one, what are those ankle things they wear, passing etiquette

Step 3 - Check for more needed information
This is the time for research. Go find what you will need to flesh out your topic. As you research, you will probably also find more things to add to your list. Just plug them in the right grouping or make new groups if you need to.

Step 4 - Order your groups

Introduction - Group 1
Getting started - Group 4
Training (and more training) - Group 3
Race Day - Group 5
Conclusion - Group 2

Step 5 - Write each section
Do I really need to explain this one? The sections in an article may only be a few paragraphs, and the sections in a book may be as long as a chapter or several chapters.

There! That wasn't so bad, was it? You can write non-fiction, just take it a step at a time. And don't forget, non-fiction does not equal boring! Happy writing...