I’m taking part in Misha and Beth’s Five Year Project and my five-year goal is to write a novel and get it published.
Last month, I reported I was sending my finished novel, The Reluctant Scribe, out to agents. This month, however, I’ve been focusing on my non-fiction book, Walking the English Coast, and preparing the manuscript for its first major external edit.
Five things I’ve learnt about writing non-fiction
I wrote most of Walking the English Coast during NaNoWriMo 2014. Although I did plenty of research in advance, and followed a loose outline, anyone who’s done NaNo will know the frantic rush to get the required 50,000 words down.
Writing my book as a NaNo project played havoc with the structure and flow of the text.
- Reassembling text into a logical sequence has been a mammoth task. Non-fiction is different to fiction. Next time, I’ll spend longer on the first draft.
- I left numerous placeholders for facts I intended to check later. Now I’m spending ages trying to find the correct authentic references. Next time I’ll check the facts and collate references as I go along.
- I love research but, when I collect notes and quotes, I really must scribble down page numbers too. It makes adding references later so much easier!
- It’s difficult to get the balance right between personal anecdotes (which bring the writing to life) and useful information (which is why readers buy the book).
- And, finally, I know far more about long-distance walking than I ever knew I knew. 80,000 words is too long for a non-fiction book. I’m ruthlessly culling text.