Monday, January 22, 2018

Plotting – Changing Gears to Nonfiction

by Ruth de Jauregui

I've spent a lot of time talking about fiction writing and my pantser (also called pantster) tendencies. Ironically, when I write nonfiction, it's a whole different process. I suppose you could call it "right brain/left brain" thing (although that concept has been debunked), but I definitely switch from a seat-of-the-pants creative process to a logical mode when I work on nonfiction projects.

When beginning a nonfiction project, such as 50 Fabulous Tomatoes or 100 Medical Milestones That Shaped World History , I compile a list. In my book about tomatoes, it was in alphabetical order. For 100 Medical Milestones, it was in chronological order. In the case of Ghost Towns, I organized the chapters more or less chronologically. Because there was overlap in the boom and bust of the West, the chapters on the silver boom followed those on the gold rush.

First, I build a list in a Word document and add dates and links to references and resources before I ever begin to write the book. I also consult with other writers and enthusiasts/experts in the field for recommendations and information. I look for websites and copy the links to the appropriate item on the list so I can easily find the information when I'm ready to write that item or chapter. I also stack my books near the computer, ready for research.

In addition to the list, which may become the Table of Contents, I also plan the Introduction and Index. Among the early decisions while plotting and planning nonfiction projects are the paragraph formatting and size of the finished hard copy.

50 Fabulous Tomatoes text ready to flow into the ebook format.

I have to laugh, because this is completely the opposite of my fiction writing. Generally I have several future projects saved in my computer. In fact, I've started compiling information for a series of middle school social studies/history books and I'm up to four outlines already…

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