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 ...

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6answers
2k 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 ...
22
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10answers
528 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 ...
14
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6answers
707 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, ...
13
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5answers
1k 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?
12
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3answers
2k 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
639 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 ...
9
votes
10answers
280 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
236 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 ...
8
votes
8answers
2k 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 ...
8
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13answers
1k views

Does a technical writer need a technical background?

Does a technical writer need a technical background?
8
votes
3answers
441 views

When *should* I use passive voice?

Is there ever a good time to use passive voice in nonfiction?
8
votes
3answers
520 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
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
106 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
votes
1answer
190 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
947 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
votes
3answers
493 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?
7
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2answers
8k 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
499 views

My Ex husband's wife self published a non fiction 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
166 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?
6
votes
4answers
452 views

Which goes first: summary, background or justification?

I am trying to write a long expository piece and cannot figure out which information should come first. Here are three candidates: A summary/abstract lists the main points, without necessarily ...
6
votes
2answers
673 views

What permissions do I need to write a non-fiction book based on personal interviews?

I am writing a non-fiction book based on recorded interviews with several people. I have recorded verbal consent to be interviewed for the book from each person. One of the interviewees has since ...
5
votes
6answers
463 views

Does this feel like natural English?

Although I'm pretty confident in my English, I'm not a native English speaker. I need to write a short introduction for a symposium; I'd like to know if you think this paragraph feels like 'natural' ...
5
votes
3answers
939 views

When is it acceptable to use the first person (“I”, “we”) in technical reports?

When is it acceptable to use the first person ("I", "we") in technical reports?
5
votes
3answers
307 views

What makes for interesting travel writing/blogging?

I wanted to hear a few words about travel writing. What qualities make for the most engrossing stories, especially for readers who are just sort of gauging their interest? I've read a number of ...
5
votes
3answers
230 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
92 views

What concrete steps do you take to write for a specific reading level?

People throw around reading levels when it comes to writing: "5th grade level," "10th grade level," "college level," etc. What concrete steps do you take to write for a specific reading level? Is ...
5
votes
1answer
2k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
459 views

Is an overview clearer when outlined with bullet points, or when written in paragraphs?

I am writing a short piece for a technical audience. In essence I have three main points, each with sub-points. A few of the sub-points themselves have sub-points. I cannot help but find it clearer ...
5
votes
2answers
551 views

How do I find good interview subjects?

I have an idea for a series of science articles, but I don't have a strong background in the particular field. What's a good way to identify experts who I could interview to shore up the details and ...
5
votes
1answer
149 views

What permissions do I need for nonfiction travelogue?

I am writing (and self publishing) a non-fiction travelogue about a cross country roadtrip. I have already obtained permission from the person I traveled with, and there are no other main characters ...
5
votes
2answers
258 views

Correct order for Thesis Front Matter

What is the correct order of the following pages comprising a doctoral thesis: Title, Abstract, Colophon, Copyright, Dedication, Preface, Acknowledgements, Table of Contents, List of Tables, List of ...
5
votes
1answer
715 views

When do I need to obtain permission to photograph and write about a business, work of art, or person?

I am preparing a book which will include lots of short passages, on a variety of subjects, many of which are related to a single area in a city. Each passage will also have a photograph, which I ...
5
votes
2answers
244 views

How can I get book 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 interested in reviews by professional book reviewers. What is the appropriate way - directly approaching potential ...
4
votes
5answers
495 views

Paragraph flow, verb inversion and last sentence tone

The paragraph below is a conclusion for an essay. I have three problems with the paragraph that I would like to review with you. This experience showed me that ignoring an interpersonal conflict ...
4
votes
5answers
809 views

Is it good style to use latin phrases in english scientific literature?

I don't know how much and deep actually school kids in the US get in touch with Latin. In Europe you can choose it on many high schools and the use of it common in mainstream media. For some areas of ...
4
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3answers
142 views

How can people doing technical, archane work be portrayed interestingly?

I'd like to write the biography of an important, underrated scientist who performed a really important experiment. He persevered for many years, became ill (and recovered) along the way, and ...
4
votes
4answers
682 views

Strunk and White vs “Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace” by Williams and Colomb

I'd like to improve my writing and have been considering getting either The Elements of Style by Strunk and White or Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace by Williams and Colomb. What are their ...
4
votes
2answers
167 views

Are TOC and appendix part of total word count for books?

Do table of contents, appendix, and chapter titles count toward the total word count for a book? For example, if a book is 50,000 words, what is not included in the count? This is for a nonfiction ...
4
votes
5answers
275 views

Using uncommon abbreviations

Something which I see all the time in (popular) science writing is the use of abbreviations to indicate concepts. For (a made up) example: So when we're dealing with Anachronistic Meta Mechanics ...
4
votes
2answers
382 views

Citing speech and interviews in biographies

I am currently writing a biography of a band, and have a question regarding citing quotes, such as from interviews. Is it necessary to cite everything a person (for example a band member or manager) ...
4
votes
2answers
88 views

What are effective ways of working with a nonfiction editor?

How do you defend the integrity of your work while maintaining a cooperative and friendly rapport? Specifically, how can one work with an editor who is perhaps a bit overzealous?
4
votes
3answers
139 views

How can I express this fragment more clearly and concisely?

For the 'who is this application for' section of an application user guide, I have the following alternatives, I'm not happy with either one. How can I convey both elements more clearly and ...
4
votes
1answer
455 views

Length of non-fiction article and what to do about it

I have been working on a non-fiction (mostly biographical) article that currently is about 9,000 words and I have perhaps 30% more to go, so perhaps the final article would be 12-14k words or so. I ...
4
votes
1answer
457 views

Where can I find examples of nonfiction book proposals?

I am looking for complete examples of nonfiction book proposals. Preferably, these would be proposals that resulted in actual published works. I've already read Larsen's book, and it does have some ...
4
votes
1answer
332 views

How are citations formatted in serious non-fiction (proposals)?

Just to be clear, I'm not talking about scholarly work of the sort that might be published by a university press. I'm talking about work by people like Goodwin, McCullough, or Larson. These kinds of ...
3
votes
5answers
79 views

Pulling an idea through in spite of the need to correct details

First, this question is not quite about writer's block or dealing with self-criticism. I find myself often in the following situation: I want to write a short piece of non-fiction and have plenty of ...
3
votes
4answers
325 views

Can I use “We” to refer to me and the reader?

I am writing my thesis and in many cases I want to take the reader through an example. For example: Besides the advanced composition rules, it is also important to have a set of basic rules to ...
3
votes
2answers
692 views

How should I format a non fiction book with Scrivener?

I have written mainly novels in Scrivener, and am now thinking of writing a small non-fiction work (which I will self publish). When writing a novel, you just keep typing til you reach the end, but ...
3
votes
1answer
226 views

Software for instructional book

I saw this question on software for fiction writers. I'm wondering if there is software out there for non-fiction/instructional/research writing? Seems like yWriter and Scrivener focus on organizing ...