Worksheet #35 – 10 Steps to Writing Nonfiction
From Idea to Submission in 10 Steps
You have an idea for a nonfiction piece. It can be straight nonfiction, memoir, or creative nonfiction. What do you ask after a story idea captures you?
- Subject – What is the topic? What is the theme? Is it timely?
- Size – Do you envision this as an article or a book? Blog post? Is the theme big enough to reach a wide audience (book)? Is there enough source material? Is your subject too big for an article and needs to be narrowed?
- Query or Spec – Do you want to write first and sell later? Or vice versa, pitch first and write the piece for a specific publication?
- Research – What are your primary sources? What are your secondary sources? Are there legal or ethical concerns?
- Style – What is the tone?
- Structure – Will you write chronologically? Is the piece better suited to an episodic order? Will it be a series of anecdotes linked by a thematic thread?
- Draft – Write a first draft.
- Fact Check – Highlight each part of the piece that is based on factual evidence. Record the source for each fact. Double, triple, quadruple check for accuracy.
- Polish – Run through a critique group, beta reader, or private editor. Make changes or revisions until you are happy with a clean final draft.
- Submit – If this is an assigned piece, send in by deadline. If you are writing on spec, research markets. Be certain to adhere to guidelines.
Size? Article, book or blog?
Query or spec?
Research—What sources are at your disposal?
What is POV?
How will your piece be structured?
How will you open?
What is the theme?
Why do you want to write this?
Please note: All worksheets posted are my original work and intellectual property. I ask that you share the links on social media, and you are welcome to share the worksheets with your critique groups and writing friends with credit given. That being said, these worksheets—despite being posted on the Internet—may not be copied, distributed, or published as anyone’s work but mine. In short: sharing is good, plagiarism is bad.
Disclaimer #2: You may post your completed worksheet if you’d like, but please remember that, by doing so, you are sharing your ideas with all of the Internet. You’ve been warned.