A Few Tips for Writing Nonfiction Articles

by Suzanne Lieurance, the Working Writer's Coach

Writing nonfiction articles can be a lot of fun and an excellent way to earn income as a freelance writer. But whether you’re writing a nonfiction article for a major magazine or an article that will become a blog post, follow these tips to create a well-written article.

Tip #1 Create a Clear Title for Your Article

A catchy title is good but be sure it accurately conveys what you article will be about. If it is misleading, your editor or your readers won’t be impressed.

Tip #2 Start with an Introductory Paragraph, Not a Subtopic Heading

Be sure you have an introductory paragraph before you have your first subtopic heading. You don’t want to start your article with a catchy title, then immediately have a subtopic heading. This doesn't really make sense.

Tip #3 Make Sure Your Title Reflects the Structure of Your Article

Be sure your title and the content of the article match up. For example, if your title is “Ten Ways to Take Charge of Your Life” and then within the article you tell readers to “follow these ten steps to take charge of your life” the title and content don’t match up. A "way" isn’t necessarily a “step.” Plus, steps generally need to be taken in order, but ways might not.

Tip #4 Use the Right Words

Be sure you’re using the right word. I see articles all the time that say “peek your Interest” or “peak your interest” but the right word in this case is “pique” your interest.

Tip #5 Count the Steps or Ways in Your Article

I edit articles for www.workingwritersclub.com and I often get submissions with titles like “5 Ways to Write an Article” but when I read the article, there are 6 ways listed or only 4 ways. Again, the title and content need to match up. It’s easy for your computer to mess up the numbering so check your article for this type of thing before you send it off to your editor or publish it on your blog.

Tip #6 Check for Parallel Structure in Your Bulleted or List Items

Look at this list and see which item isn’t parallel in structure to all the others:


All the words, above, end in -ing, except for "create." This is an easy fix. Simply change "create" to "creating" and each of your items is parallel in structure.

Tip #7 Avoid Mixing Metaphors

Don’t switch metaphors from sentence to sentence. If you’re talking about how “writing is an ocean of possibilities” don’t then say, in the next sentence, “there are all sorts of ways to bring home the bacon if you’re a writer.“

These tips are pretty basic, but you might use them as a checklist when you're writing your next nonfiction article.

Try it!

Suzanne Lieurance is a fulltime freelance writer, writing coach, certified life coach, and the author of over 30 published books. For more tips, resources, and other helpful information about writing and the business of writing, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge at www.morningnudge.com.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

How appropriate! Suzanne is THE one to write this post! Did you know that Suzanne also runs the WorkingWritersClub where she coaches participants in writing articles and a whole lot of other things? (-: You'll also find all kinds of lists and other aids on my Writers Resources section of my Web site, http://howtodoitfrugally.com.

Suzanne Lieurance said...

Thanks for the endorsement, Carolyn! I love working with other writers, which is why I created the Working Writers' Club. Happy writing!

Karen Cioffi said...

Suzanne, great tips on writing your nonfiction article.

Suzanne Lieurance said...

Thanks, Karen. You know all this stuff, though.

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