organizing non fiction

by John
(Ofdensburg,ny 13669)

Question: what are some additional methods for organizing non-fiction?

Answer: It rather depends on the type of non-fiction.

If you're writing a book on the history of something or someone, it's typical to present the events in chronological order, though sometimes you can begin at the crucial event and then tell the story of how things got to that point.

With literary non-fiction, it is typical to structure the book the same way you would a novel. The difference is that you are documenting events that actually happened, rather than making them up.

In journalism, the general format is to answer the key questions in the first paragraph and then expand on them in subsequent paragraphs in order of declining importance. A variation on this (commonly found in magazines) is to present a key event in the first paragraph and then continue as before.

If you're writing a "how to" book, then it's common to use a step-by-step organization taking the reader through the process in the same order they would follow in real life. A variation (for instance, if you're teaching something that has levels of competence) is to start with the lower or introductory levels and move towards the advanced levels.

Other books may begin with a summary - a thesis or preface that introduces the key message - followed by any number of chapters intended to prove the thesis and ending with a chapter on the broader implications.

And some non-fiction books are simply collections of articles or essays, each of which could be published (and may have been formerly published) on its own. They typically, but not always, have a topic that links them together.

If you have a book project in mind, it can be very helpful to take a look at a number of successful books similar to what you have in mind and take note of the way their authors presented the information.

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