As an editor, I specialise in nonfiction publications. Every time people ask me what I specialise in, I always say nonfiction work and the number one type of book that comes into their mind is the reference book they used in their college days. A few think of textbooks or newspaper articles that they read every day. However, the underlying fact about nonfiction writing is that facts are at play. This means that nonfiction writing is authoritative and informative, hence research is involved.

Types of nonfiction work

Nonfiction work can take up many forms such as;

  1. encyclopedia
  2. textbook
  3. reference book
  4. essay
  5. biography
  6. memoir or autobiography
  7. inspirational book
  8. newspaper article
  9. newsletter article
  10. magazine
  11. academic paper
  12. opinion piece
  13. technical manual
  14. travel guide or travelogue
  15. book review
  16. interview
  17. personal essay
  18. marketing copy
  19. press release

However, to arrive at any of the above type of work, nonfiction material is written from four main angles:

1. Narrative

2. Expository

3. Persuasive

4. Descriptive

4 main types of nonfiction work

1. Narrative writing

The narrative type of writing chronicles a true story about a person, event, or place.  This means that the facts have to be accurate and where reference to places is made, they have to be thoroughly researched and fact checked. While narrative nonfiction is written from the third person, it can also be written in the first person, but it always involves extensive research on the writer’s part. One cannot afford to talk about a place like they would do in passing. If the building is green, the writer has to capture that accurately.

2. Expository writing

The word expository explains the type of writing which seeks to expose information and knowledge about a subject. The intended outcome is to explain or inform the reader (who may not have prior knowledge) about a specific topic so research is central to successfully executing expository nonfiction.

3. Persuasive Writing

The main objective of persuasive writing is to convince or sway the readers’ mind towards a certain thought. With persuasive writing, the writer takes a position on an issue and argues for his or her side or against an opposing side. The writer will use facts and information to support his or her own argument while trying to influence his readers’ opinions. Normally, this kind of writing takes the form of an op-ed piece or editorial in the newspaper.

4. Descriptive Writing

Descriptive nonfiction employs all five senses to help the reader get a visual of what the writer is trying to describe. Sensory language, rich details, and figurative language are methods used to achieve good descriptive nonfiction.

How to write nonfiction

The writing process is the same as discussed in the writing process but here are quick steps on how to come up with nonfiction piece of material.


Whenever you decide to write, always start with the brainstorming process. Brainstorming allows you to refine your idea and sift out the unnecessary detail. Brainstorming allows you to get a clear angle suitable for the required piece. The best way to brainstorm is a pencil and paper. The mind thinks faster than one’s level of typing speed, hence using a pencil and notebook is quicker – you retain your ideas faster. Make sure you get an environmentally friendly notebook and a wood pencil.


As stated above, nonfiction work is based on fact hence research plays a pivotal role in the success of such work.


As you begin to draft your work from the gathered research material, make use of headings or objectives that will guide you fill up your outline. You may find that you need to go back to the research stage as your work shapes up. Don’t worry about editing at this stage, focus on completing the draft.


Begin your editing process only when the draft is complete. Editing is repetitive so do it at least three times before you can get an editor to look at it.


With nonfiction work, you always have to get your facts rights. Many writers may not know the writing styles which they can employ when writing. Pick a writing style that best tells what you want to say and you can never go wrong with nonfiction. At times, the kind of work you want to write will indicate to you the angle to write from. But it all starts with penning down that idea, that thought, and your story will flow. So, let’s get started.





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