Avoid Making Real People One-Dimensional

A two-sided hazard of narrative nonfiction—whether you’re writing about your own life or someone else’s—is of making the good guys impossibly perfect and the bad guys impossibly evil. Novelists face the same problem, of course, but in nonfiction the problem is magnified because you’re writing about real human beings. Creating a one-dimensional fictional character is …

Populate Your Book with Engaging People

We’ve talked about what sort of nonfiction you may be writing and why it’s important to use stories to make your point. Now we’re ready to dig into the Nonfiction Checklist. The first category, Personality, is equivalent to Character in fiction. The type of nonfiction you’re writing will determine whether you need to include characters …

Leverage the Power of Story

In fiction writing, we often say “story is king.” Remember how I define that: Character + Plot = Story To make your nonfiction engaging, use stories either on a small scale, like anecdotes, or on a large scale, as in a memoir. A story may be brief, like Jesus’ parable about the rich man and …

Characters speak like real people

New writers’ manuscripts are often marked by unrealistic dialogue. Many things can go wrong in characters’ speech, but this is one of the biggest. If the characters’ conversations sound fake, readers will drop out quickly. ☐ Conversations are natural and realistic. When I say natural, I refer partly to the idea, mentioned last week, that …

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