ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How To NonFiction

Updated on April 24, 2015

Treat It Like An Assignment!

For this project, you will compose a creative nonfiction piece for publication. The difference between creative nonfiction and nonfiction is the personality that goes into creative nonfiction. For nonfiction, think of “Band of Brothers” by Stephen Ambrose. For Creative nonfiction think of “Glass Castle” by Jeannetta Wall. Ambrose writes more history stories of the US military during World War II. Though there is some dialogue and scenes, is it mostly facts stated in simple paragraphs. Wall’s book reads like a novel almost. There are chapters, scenes from her life, dialogue between her and her siblings, and there is a definite story told from one point of view.

Your story won’t be this long, however. It will be a short story of something that happened to you that you found significant enough to tell a large group of readers. Try to keep the story between 1,000 and 5,000 words.

Read “The Suicide Catcher” by Michael Paterniti ( and analyze it for:

  • Details
  • Themes
  • Dialogue
  • Scenes
  • Meaning

What is Paternini’s tone? Casual, professional, conversational? How does he include detail and novel-ideas in his writing? Where are the times he uses dialogue or his own words? These are the kinds of things you need to note in order to have a colorful story.

Brainstorm/ Daydream; Get ideas!

Step One! (Or Day One)

First off, think (or daydream as I call it) of a time in your life that would make a good story. This could be anything from a time you were mugged to something as simple as one time you took out the trash. What was exceptional about that time? What life lesson is there in this story you can share (this is most important and we’ll get back to it).

Day Two (Or Step Two)

Time to brainstorm. Do some free writing. Write out what emotions you felt. Don’t write any scenes in order yet. Just write what you remember. Details are key. Smells, sights, textures, tastes, items that stood out, and your feelings are very important to the story. These details are where your voice can come through. How you describe something can be humorous or callous. What tone do you want to set?

Step Three! (Or Day...)

Next, plot out some dialogue. It doesn’t have to be exactly what you remember, especially if you can’t, but don’t make something up for the sake of the story. You chose this one because of what happened, not because of what you can make up. Write out some lines and plan where you want to put them. Dialogue does not need to happen where your summarizing tone will due just fine.

Day Four!

Start the scene. How many scenes do you have? Remember that a scene could be in the same instance, but a different beat. What is the objective of each scene. You cannot make these characters (real people) have goals like in fiction, so your goal is to speak to the audience through your conveyance of this moment. Don’t worry about who the readers are, just try to make your point in each scene.

Step Five! Be Brave...

Once you have a rough draft, here is the fun part. Go back through your writing and make sure you have details in each scene. Is there humor, symbolism, irony? Now is also the time to begin to look for your bigger message. I'm not kidding here either. Whatever you have to say, say it. I've gotten a lot of sigh and eye rolls from my fellows for my opinionated pieces, but just go for it! This is your story and your life does not need someone else's approval.

Day Six...almost there!

What is your point in writing this piece? Is it to show the bizarre life you lead as a circus juggler? Is it to make people laugh at the slice-of-life situations we all come in contact with? Or is it about you finding hope or a life lesson? No one if better than the other, how you tell the story matters. You need to have a point to your writing, or a “message” if you will. This goes for fiction as well, but is harder to convey in creative nonfiction. The desire to tell a humorous story is strong, but you must remember to have a point.

Step Seven! (It's a magic number)

Lastly, go back through and edit for content, clarity, and theme. Make sure you have no typos and everything is spelled correctly. Then clean up out of place phrases, sentences, lines that don’t belong, or move paragraphs that would be better somewhere else. Then be sure your theme is present in every aspect of the piece.

NOTICE: See that composing the first draft is only one step out of many. The actual writing process of the piece is very small. The real talent comes in when you are brainstorming, freewriting, and editing. Being a writer means knowing your own writing and knowing what is good for your piece. You have to be honest with yourself so that your piece can shine.

Take a Poll With Me!

What Do you Write Most?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)