Writing from the Heart

Nonfiction

The genre of nonfiction is huge and encompasses many subgenres: personal narrative, first person essay, memoir, informational text, biography, etc.
Instead of separating each nonfiction genre I focus on the quality of nonfiction no matter what genre you’re writing in. After all, nonfiction may include facts and information but lack voice and vibrancy and not engage the reader. Good writing is good writing no matter what genre you’re writing in. William Zinsser writes, “What holds me is the enthusiasm of the writer for his field…. This is the personal transaction that’s at the heart of good nonfiction writing…humanity and warmth. Good writing has an aliveness that keeps the reader reading from one paragraph to the next”.

7 Nonfiction Craft Tools

After working with students on nonfiction writing, and thinking about what’s essential as I write my own nonfiction, I’ve come to believe that there are seven craft lessons that are essential tools for writing nonfiction:

  1. Focus: the hearth of nonfiction writing
  2. Turning facts into scenes: writing with imagery
  3. Leads: the doorway into writing
  4. Point of view and voice: who are we when we write?
  5. Precise language: details, details, and more details
  6. Text structures: writing bird by bird
  7. Endings: letting words linger
childrens-poetry-finding-the-heart
(from Finding the Heart of Nonfiction: Teaching 7 Craft Tools with Mentor Texts by Georgia Heard (Heinemann)

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