I’ve just read the newly published Nonfiction Writer’s Book by Tiina Raevaara and Urpu Strellman. Over the years, I have gone through several articles and books on this subject for work and for my own interest. So I was eager to see what new ideas the writers would offer me.
I was delighted to find that they apply the concept of argument. It seems like a useful tool for a variety of nonfiction texts. The argument is the author’s main claim, something the reader may agree or disagree with. The claim acts as a main thread of the text and combines various facts into a whole.
The concept of scene is another useful tool I noted. Scene is familiar from fiction; it is linked to narrative nonfiction. Things are not just described, but also displayed by action and dialogue. An incident can encapsulate some essential features of the subject, using the techniques of fiction but the contents of nonfiction.
Headings are such a worn-out topic that I didn’t expect much. However, I was interested in the way they were handled: the authors compared the contents of a dissertation and of a book written on the same subject. The titles and headings in the nonfiction contained more interpretation and atmosphere than those in the dissertation. The writers also classified headings into different types and gave examples of each.
The strengths of the Nonfiction Writer’s Book, in my opinion, are its rich examples and the authors’ wide knowledge of the genre. Experienced readers generally benefit more from analyzed examples than from direct instructions. Do you agree?