Monday, April 28, 2014

Writing the Non-Fiction Novel: Getting Started (Part 2)

Okay, so last week we were dealing with the preliminary steps to writing a non-fiction project. We went over how to formulate an outline, develop the focus of the project, and collect works on interest that will contribute to your research.  This week I wanted to go over the second part of that lesson. I didn't have enough time to write it, so this week we shall talk about how to synthesize and process information down into bite sized morsels that will constitute your book.

The big idea when writing non-fiction is that your work will be cumulative by nature, meaning over time the book will gradually form over subsequent re-writes. These re-writes offer additional content, refining points, and so on. So don't try to talk about everything when covering a point. Realistically, in each chapter you will have your big idea, followed by a directory of subtopics that will comprise the overall thesis of the chapter. If I'm writing about cars for instance, specifically the history of a model, I will begin with writing about the engineer that designed the car, it's motor, and the success of it's initial run. Notice that I didn't talk about the designer's favorite chewing gum that inspired him/her to make the car a particular color. Those kinds of details come later. Hit the big points and move on, then come back later.

The same idea applies to gathering information from books to support your thesis. I bought the Divine Comedy and Paradise Lost for research materials while I was writing my chapter on Christianity in my Sandman book. The first time I read the works I made certain that all I was processing on the first read was the basic story. I laid the foundation of understanding on the first pass so that in later reads I could understand what was going on while getting finer plot details. Also, I could expedite my quoting and sourcing, because I knew exactly what part of the book to find the particular quote that I was looking for. Any other aspects of the book's philosophy or content will apply like paper mache onto the wire frame of understanding in your mind, always incrementally.

Anything else regarding the processing of information, I would encourage you all to be thorough. Never skimp on detail. Ultimately you will write faster and more efficiently when you are passionate about what you are writing about. If you find that you are enamored with the bubblegum idea, pursue it. It could lead to a better point, or a better way to articulate a section.

That's all for today! Tune in next week for more!


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