Wednesday, March 5, 2014

First Lines and First Pages for the Nonfiction Writer by Diana Flegal

Most references you hear to hooking your reader are related to fiction writing.  But as a nonfiction author, how are you going to insure readers choose your book off the shelf instead of the others again and again?

By fulfilling the promise you offer them in your first line, first paragraph and first page; thereby earning your readers trust enough for them to invest their budgeted dollars in you. 

"Like Fiction, nonfiction accomplishes its purpose better when it evokes emotion in the reader".

Sol Stein: Stein on Writing 

There are many effective ways to open your story: 
     Ask a Question/ Address a problem
     Conflict- most popular in fiction but effective in nonfiction as well.
     The Unexpected- inserting personal story amongst the information.
     Voice- unique style of the author/ subjective to readers personal taste. 
      Ex: Jena Morrow/ Erwin McManus/ Donald Miller or Max Lucado.
     Mission Memoir/ Testimony of survival- if I made it, you can too. 
"Clutter is the disease of American writing", and "Fighting clutter is like fighting weeds--the writer is always slightly behind."
William Zinsser  
It is as important to eliminate unnecessary words in nonfiction as it is in fiction. Maybe more so.
I recommended all authors write a mission statement for each title you are writing. Why are you writing this book? Who is it for and what do you hope they will take away from reading it?

Suggested reading: 

On Writing Well by William Zinsser
Proofreading Secrets of Bestselling Authors by Kathy Ide by Jodie Renner (pacing)
Memoir writers might enjoy: You Can't Make This Stuff Up by Lee Gut Kind
Stein on Writing by Sol Stein. 

Blogs to review:

Cec Murphey's blog Writer to Writer This blog offers great information for growing your online presence.      

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