Nonfiction Writing

By Harriet Michael, Shirley Crowder, and Gail Johnson

Nonfiction writing is prose writing that is based on facts, actual occurrences or real people. It comes in many forms—essays of many types (lessons, opinions, teaching, etc.), stories, articles, memoirs, newspaper columns, journaling of various types, and for Christian writers there are also Bible studies, and devotions.

There are numerous opportunities to write and be published in the nonfiction world. Here are just a few:

Devotions

Devotional opportunities abound. Most denominations have a devotional magazine, some accepting freelanced pieces, others that make assignments to writers of their choice. Devotions also show up in books, on cards, and on blogs. Two places that accept freelanced devotions are The Upper Room http://submissions.upperroom.org/guidelines and The Secret Place: https://www.judsonpress.com/Content/Site189/BasicBlocks/10271writeranda_00000120445.pdf

Articles

Magazines are always looking for well-written content, whether secular or religious. Most have specifications for their articles. Some want articles written to a certain theme, a certain wordcount, with or without subtitles, and Christian magazines often even specify the version of the Bible they prefer. The best place to find these specifics is on that magazine’s writer’s guidelines (which can usually be found through a search engine by writing the name of the magazine and then the words, ‘writer’s guidelines”. The guidelines will also let you know what rights the magazine wishes to purchase and when/ how much they pay. Articles are often essays, teaching a lesson or making a point of some kind, though not always.

Stories

The best-known anthology for nonfiction stories is Chicken Soup for the Soul. This anthology purchases stories for several books a year (each book needing 101 stories.) It’s a great place to begin trying to write and sell nonfiction stories. Stories differ from essays in that they tell a story rather than making a point. Here are the Chicken Soup guidelines: http://www.chickensoup.com/story-submissions/story-guidelines and another site that might be helpful is from writer Tracy Trump: http://www.writelifeworkshops.com/2013/07/from-soup-to-nuts/

Books

Like other nonfiction writing, nonfiction books come in all sorts. An anthology, or collection of stories, is one such book. As a writer you may either be a contributor to a nonfiction book, writing on one topic or are of expertise, or you may author the entire book. As with fiction books, these can be published through indie publishing, small press, or large traditional publishing houses.

Newspaper Columns

Most newspapers have a “Religion” or “Spiritual” section and they are always looking for contributors for articles and devotionals. And, it’s usually easy to submit your writing through their website.

 Bible Studies

Do not let the plethora of published Bible studies or the fact that so many well-known men and women have published these studies stop you. There is a need for biblically-sound Bible studies. Where do you find opportunities for writing Bible studies? Your denominational Sunday school and small group curriculum. Think of Bible studies that you have completed and learned through, look for the publisher online, and check their submission guidelines. Christian magazines are often looking for Bible study writers. Some of your friends likely have blogs; ask them to post a Bible study series on their site. And, don’t forget the self-publishing angle, either.

 Memoirs

Memoir is the most personal of all nonfiction writing. It is the true story of a person’s life. However, unlike autobiography and biography that tells an entire life story, memoir focuses on a specific story in a life. If you’re not looking to write an entire book, you can write and publish memoir articles, short stories, or even blog posts. To find out more visit:

How to Write a Memoir: 6 Creatives Ways to Tell a Powerful Story  https://thewritelife.com/how-to-write-a-memoir/

The Top Twenty Tips for Writing Memoir http://marionroach.com/twenty-top-tips-for-writing-memoir/

The Key Elements of Writing a Good Memoir http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/improve-my-writing/elements-of-an-effective-arc

How to Write Your Memoir: A 3-Step Guide https://www.jerryjenkins.com/how-to-write-a-memoir/

Nonfiction needs to stick to truth, real stories about actual happenings, but that does not mean it has to be boring. There are tips and tricks to make nonfiction pieces just as spellbinding as fiction. Among the Inspired Writing Crew (the writers who regularly contribute to this blog) we have writers who have authored all types of published nonfiction pieces (articles for magazines, online news sites, devotions, stories for anthologies including Chicken Soup for the Soul, columns for newsletters and newspapers, Bible studies for both magazines, and books, memoirs, and books that were published in all ways—indie, small press, and larger press.) Stay tuned to this blog for more tips and information to improve your nonfiction writing and to become multi-published as a nonfiction writer.