Write non-fiction

Writing is often split into two major categories, fiction and non-fiction. Like fiction, non-fiction, or true stories, has many genres that dictate the style, length, tone and readership of the work. This resource sheet focusses on the narrative non-fiction, or creative non-fiction. Technical writing such as manuals or text books and reports or research papers are not covered by this sheet.

About Narrative Non-Fiction

Narrative non-fiction is a true story written in a way that utilises literary techniques to create factually accurate manuscripts that read like fiction. Narrative non-fiction tells a story, rather than simply presenting the facts, using the key elements of fiction including plot, character, setting and style.

True stories are compelling, so it’s no surprise that narrative non-fiction is a booming genre and frequently tops the best-seller lists. Further, we are seeing narrative non-fiction titles take out some of Australia’s major writing prizes due to their merit, and their readability.

Memoirs are book-length historical accounts written from personal knowledge. Memoirs are often about personal experience, family and relationships told from the first-person point of view.

Biography is a true account of someone’s life, authored by someone else, often written in the third-person point of view.

Essays are shorter pieces of writing with one subject or focus. Essays can range from 1,000 to 25,000 words depending on the content and target publication and often carry the author’s point of view.

Other popular genres of narrative non-fiction include Travel Writing and True Crime.

Communities and opportunities

If you are working on a non-fiction project, or would like to learn more about writing narrative non-fcition the below resources will help you on your path.

QWC seminars, workshops and courses are a great way to learn basic skills, or develop your existing talents. Information seminars, full-day workshops and introductory short courses are offered year round covering a wide range of topics, genres and skills. www.qwc.asn.au/events

The Writer’s Surgery is a 90 minute one-on-one consultation with a professional published writers. If you require personalised, detailed help on your submission package, or wish to polish the first 20 pages of your manuscript before submitting it to a publisher or agent, The Writer’s Surgery might be able to help. Consultations are by appointment only, visit www.qwc.asn.au for more details or contact QWC by phone 07 3842 9922 or by email qldwriters@qwc.asn.au

QWC / Hachette Australia Manuscript Development Program is run annually in Brisbane, offering individual consultation with editors from Hachette Australia. www.qwc.asn.au

Year of the Non-Fiction Novel is a year-long program made up of five masterclasses and ongoing support to complete a book-length manuscript. www.qwc.asn.au/events

Quarterly Essay is a trailblazing Australian journal of politics and culture. Each issue contains a single essay written at a length of about 25,000 words, followed by correspondence on previous essays. Quarterly Essay aims to present the widest range of political, intellectual and cultural opinion. www.quarterlyessay.com

The Australian Writer’s Marketplace (AWM) is Australia and New Zealand’s comprehensive resource providing submission guidelines and contact information for the publishing industry, details of support organisations and information services, a range of writing courses and workshops, literary events and competitions, and services for each stage of the writing, editing and publication process. www.awmonline.com.au

Creative Nonfiction is packed with new, long-form essays that blend style with substance; writing that pushes the traditional boundaries of the genre; notes on craft; micro-essays; conversations with writers and editors; insights and commentary from CNF editor Lee Gutkind. www.creativenonfiction.org

Longreads is dedicated to helping people find and share the best storytelling in the world, including both nonfiction and fiction. longreads.com

Writing groups offer support and critique in a social setting, allowing you connect, learn and grow with other writers. If you’d like to join (or start) a writers group, QWC has a resource sheet that can help.

Research is a key element of creative non-fiction.For help in conducting research for your manuscript, visit www.slq.qld.gov.au to find details of SLQ’s research training classes.

Further resources

Writing Your Family History is a paper offered by the Australian Society of Authors. https://www.asauthors.org/contracts-papers/writing-your-family-history

Turning Your Passion into Print is an article by biographer Dr Darryl Dymock www.qwc.asn.au/help-for-writers/blog/2014/04/15/turning-your-passion-into-print/

Step Back in Time is an article by biographer Antonia Fraser www.theguardian.com/books/2008/sep/24/antoniafraser.writing.biographies

Some book resources include:

-          The Memoir Book by Patti Miller

-          Writing Your Life by Patti Miller

-          Find Your Story, Write Your Memoir by Lynn Miller

This Writers' Guide is available for download here. You are free to share, copy and distribute this document. If you do, please attribute the work to Queensland Writers Centre, including our phone number +61 7 3842 9922 and website address www.qwc.asn.au.

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