Questions tagged [non-fiction]

Non-fiction is a form of prose writing that factually describes real events and people, sometimes offering additional commentary. This tag should be used for any questions relating to non-fiction, including non-fiction formatting and technique, non-fiction critiques, and the publishing of non-fiction.

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189
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9answers
19k views

"Dear Stack Exchange, I am very disappointed in you" - How to construct a strong opening line in a letter?

In light of recent events, I intended to write a simple letter of complaint to StackExchange. The obvious thing to do would be to write an opening with the fact such as It came to my knowledge that ...
50
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9answers
8k views

The art of clickbait captions

We all have seen at least one of these clickbaits (or some variation thereof): "single mom discovers the meaning of life with a simple trick" or "billionaires don't want you to know this ...
39
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6answers
4k views

Writing first programming book

I was recently asked if I was interested in writing a book for a pretty reputable publisher, which of course I accepted. I am not a writer by trade, I am a software developer with some technical ...
39
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5answers
2k views

How to write a nice frame challenge?

When answering questions on Stack Exchange, some of us challenge the assumptions of the author. These frame challenges can often be quite popular answers. This popularity, however, can simply be a ...
32
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7answers
4k views

When blogging recipes, how can I support both readers who want the narrative/journey and ones who want the printer-friendly recipe?

Increasingly often, if you Google for a recipe your search results will be full of long, image-rich blog posts that, somewhere in there, have the actual recipe you were looking for. Many of these ...
31
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10answers
1k views

How can one make technical issues more accessible to a non-technical audience?

Most of what I write is non-fiction -- technical books, blog posts on open source topics, political stuff, etc. Lately, I find that some of the topics I am trying to present are much more technical ...
26
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11answers
9k views

Should all books have page numbers?

I am interested in whether there are any compelling reasons why print books should always have page numbers. In particular, I am thinking of books comprising many elements that are each typically ...
16
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5answers
83k views

Where can I find sales numbers for books?

I'm a writer, working on a non-fiction book proposal. Finding public, free sales numbers for comparable titles is nearly impossible. BookScan is a subscriber service run by Nielsen. "Above the ...
15
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5answers
4k views

How do you come up with non-fiction story ideas?

My biggest problem is that I'm often at a dearth of ideas. I can target a publication or radio show or whatnot once I've got it, but I'm just not good at coming up with them. Tips?
15
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6answers
1k views

What are some ingredients of really engaging non-fiction?

Some of the best non-fiction writers, in terms of sales at least, seem to be able to write in a really engaging and easy to read style that makes their work hard to put down. For example, author/...
14
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6answers
1k views

Writing what my family may not want to read

I am going through a difficult time in my life and, as a keen amateur writer I’m seriously considering writing about my experience. My motivation is two fold, firstly I believe it will help me, but ...
13
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9answers
2k views

How to expand my vocabulary? [duplicate]

I wanted to write something for a long time. But what I think is, in writing the choice of words plays a very significant role. From where I can learn this thing? I think I don't have enough words in ...
13
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4answers
8k views

How can I write anonymously (based on true experiences)?

I want to use an experience I had which is pretty unbelievable but true. The majority of the story will be completely true. It's not over yet so I want to use an ending which is NOT true yet works ...
13
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1answer
1k views

How to respond to overenthusiastic copy-editing

I was approached by a science magazine to write a long-form critical essay, and I gave them a 6000-word piece with extensive endnotes. After two months of being with the editorial team it comes back ...
11
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10answers
336 views

An alternative to saying 'users' when describing features

I'm creating some copy describing new web-app features for a number of different audiences (users, managers of sections of the site, owners of sub-sites which use our platform etc.). I'm finding ...
11
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8answers
4k views

Good Outlining Solutions For OSX?

I write technical non-fiction and find that I cannot write well without first constructing a detailed (10-20 page) outline. Are there any good outlining solutions for OSX? Apps? Templates in Microsoft ...
11
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6answers
4k views

How do I avoid legal repercussions for writing a story based on events in my life?

How do I avoid legal repercussions for writing a story based on events in my life? Mainly, I have experienced events that I would like to share with the world. These events are somewhat disturbing ...
10
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17answers
4k views

Does a technical writer need a technical background?

Does a technical writer need a technical background?
10
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9answers
947 views

Are 'how-to write fiction' books full of it?

I built and sold a business during my first decade of adulthood. During that period, I read a lot of business books published by the popular press. However, I didn't begin to succeed until I ...
10
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5answers
176 views

Making science for toddlers easy to remember

I have been intending to create a book for toddlers with basic scientific notions in it. Most books for this target readership that I have seen present whatever content in the form of a story, quite ...
10
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3answers
1k views

Do you need to get author's permission to quote him in a non-fiction book?

I have a non-fiction book idea that would frequently use quotes/reviews from a specific author. Would I need to get that author's permission to quote him/her, and to base the entire book on these ...
10
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1answer
916 views

How long can I expect to wait between accepting an offer and signing?

I accepted an offer from a publisher recently on a non-fiction title. It's my first book and naturally I'm excited. My agent negotiated a good deal since which time the publisher has not been in touch....
9
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3answers
2k views

When *should* I use passive voice?

Is there ever a good time to use passive voice in nonfiction?
9
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3answers
692 views

What are the key skills for a new technical writer?

For those that are just starting out, what are key skills they should have or learn to be a good technical writer?
9
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5answers
1k views

How do I keep an essay about "feeling flat" from feeling flat?

I was invited to participate in an anthology of essays about a tv show. I chose an episode based on the Wikipedia summary (since it had been so long since I had watched it), but after I watched it, I ...
9
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3answers
385 views

What to include in agreement with a Ghost Writer. .

I am exploring engaging a Ghost writer to partner with me on the development of a non-fiction (well, mostly) business book. What are the critical elements of the agreement that need to be included?
9
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1answer
236 views

Tools for exploring and analysing document structure?

I'm currently writing a thesis. Just the introduction is 25 pages/8000 words. The whole document will probably be 70 pages or so. With a document this large, and on such a complex topic, it can be ...
8
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3answers
256 views

What challenges are there in writing a fantasy cookbook?

I ask mostly out of curiosity. Obviously, a proper cookbook would involve real ingredients and not fantasy creatures. There's such a cookbook for Skyrim and Lord of the Rings. What I am curious about ...
8
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3answers
838 views

Coincidence of Similarity in Writing

I am a blogger and sometimes I find articles with similar content or an idea coincidentally similar as mine which is not published at the time of reading that similar article but which I have written ...
8
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3answers
1k views

Are composite characters in creative non-fiction okay?

I come from a journalism background and am very interested in the dying style of narrative journalism, or creative non-fiction. I was discussing a project with a potential editor and said I didn't ...
8
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2answers
316 views

Moving away from a gender-based analysis

I'm writing a short essay on gender undercurrents of conversations, i.e. how do different people approach communication and problem-solving in their relationships. One way to phrase this is in terms ...
8
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3answers
530 views

How to find the right literary agent in the USA?

I want to publish an English language book in the USA as a foreigner. Someone told me that the USA is mainly interested in American subjects, so anything else is quite hard to sell. Besides the fact ...
8
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1answer
299 views

Plain language with long required phrases

I am trying to create documentation for an application, and it's for end users who use keyboard (not mouse) and a screen reader. Some of our conventions require us to always use the full phrase as ...
8
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2answers
227 views

Is there a legitimate step by step guide to getting your book published?

I want to write on a computer topic which isn't covered by many existing books out there. What is the process of getting your book published?
8
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4answers
150 views

How can I trim my word count and still be proud of what I've written?

I am a new writer. My work is focused on real people. I ask a series of questions and go from there. Its all about their personal journeys with health. I like to capture the feeling of what people ...
8
votes
2answers
172 views

Do I need permission to name organizations in a non-fiction book?

I am self-publishing a dog photography book. I have obtained permissions for all subjects in the book. One of the pictures I am using has the American Kennel Club (AKC) logo in it. I'm assuming I need ...
8
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2answers
188 views

How can you submit your writings internationally?

I live in Argentina, and I've always wondered if (given the case of having something worthy) I'd be able to submit it to publishers in, for example, the USA. Of course the writing would be in English. ...
8
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1answer
166 views

What are typical response rates to non-fiction queries?

I've begun sending out queries to agents for my recently completed non-fiction manuscript. A decade ago, I sent out queries frequently, for children's books, directly to publishers. After a while, ...
7
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4answers
1k views

Common words to avoid when writing formally

I am rather useless at writing formal English and sometimes find that I can come across informal with my choice of words. So I wondered what common words and phrases should be avoided when writing an ...
7
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3answers
238 views

In English non-fiction, should I try to place the important parts at the beginning of the sentence?

Main question There is a claim that I heard from a few persons (none of which were native speakers of English), which goes as follows: In English non-fictional writing, the most important aspects ...
7
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2answers
1k views

My ex-husband's wife self-published a nonfiction book naming my kids in the story

My ex-husband's wife self-published a non fiction book and put my kids in the story as well. She did not change their names. Neither she nor my ex-husband told me about this or asked me (or the ...
7
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3answers
2k views

David Foster Wallace's technique in "Consider the Lobster"

After reading the essay "Consider the Lobster" by the famous writer David Foster Wallace, I realized that Wallace had employed a rather sly technique. If you're interested in answering this question, ...
7
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3answers
1k views

Is there a standard for what should be included in an index?

I have a non-fiction book that I want to create an index for. Is there any standard for what items should be included in an index? Some things are obvious like names and proper nouns. But, is there ...
7
votes
4answers
67k views

Minimum (realistic) word count of non-fiction book

What is a reasonable estimate for the minimum length, in word count, for a non-fiction book? I'd guesstimate that non-fiction books "generally" (yes, this is very rough) run perhaps 150-450 pages, ...
7
votes
1answer
12k views

Permission requirements from people in my memoir

I am writing a memoir about my abusive childhood. Do I need permission from everyone I write about? My abuser is deceased, but my brothers are part of the story and I don't know where one of them is ...
7
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3answers
363 views

Writing a math exercise book

I am in the process of compiling a collection of exercises in Linear Algebra, (freshman course). This is mainly just a series of examples, with a short theoretical introduction to each chapter with a ...
7
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2answers
437 views

How can I get my non-fiction book reviewed by professional reviewers?

I had my book reviewed by people who are interested in the topic of the book. Now I am interested in reviews by professional book reviewers. What is the appropriate way - directly approaching ...
6
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3answers
2k views

Past vs. present tense when referring to a fictional character

What would you write when referring to a fictional character in a non-fiction work? e.g. Tom Sawyer is a boy, he has no parents, he goes on adventures or Tom Sawyer was a boy, he had no parents, he ...
6
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5answers
4k views

Is it good style to use Latin phrases in English scientific literature?

I don't know how much and deep actual school kids in the US get in touch with Latin. In Europe you can choose it in many high schools and the use of it is common in mainstream media. For some areas of ...
6
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4answers
432 views

What is a productive response to a negative review?

I see basically three possible responses: (a) Write a rebuttal ranting that this person is a jerk and his criticisms are totally unfair and that he isn't worthy to be spit upon by a great author like ...

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