Writing Non-Fiction

Course CodeBWR309
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours

Study, Write, Work in Non Fiction

This course will strengthen the skills you have as a writer. It is not a technical writing course – the focus is popular media and broadcast media. 

Why Non-Fiction?

Nonfiction work generally offers more chances for a secure income and is often a more viable starting point than writing fiction.

There are always jobs for good nonfiction writers.

Nonfiction writers can usually:

  • learn to write across multiple genres 

  • adapt writing habits and style for different purposes

  • have a thirst for research and know how to use it effectively

  • ‘recycle’ research to produce multiple versions of their work

  • adopt a business minded approach to their writing

Do you have what it takes to be a successful non-fiction writer?

The successful writer needs to have awareness of how writing makes money – that is the commercial aspects of the work.

Working in paid employment as a writer requires knowledge of how of exactly what is expected for the job. If you produce writing which meets a brief, the chances are you will continue to be employed. Some writers lose sight of what a publisher wants.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you willing to be open minded about what you write?

  • Are you willing to accept criticism?

  • Are you willing to write to order?

To be a great professional writer of non-fiction it takes shrewdness, forbearance, positivity, flexibility, a thick skin, common sense and business acumen to succeed.

Does this sound like you? Or do you want to develop skills to transition into something new? Enrol on our non-fiction writing course now, and start that journey!

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Scope and Nature of Non-Fiction Writing
    • Non Fiction Styles
    • Types of Non Fiction Writing
    • Academic vs Commercial Non Fiction Writing
    • Text types in Non Fiction Writing
    • Text Structure
    • Pseudonyms
  2. Writing Forms and Media Options
    • Sample Author Platform
    • Using Fiction Techniques to Create Strong Non Fiction Texts
    • Making a Story Memorable
    • Hook the Audience
    • Emotional Language
    • Plain and Simple Language
    • Writing for the Readership
    • Ways to Publish/Share Non Fiction Writing
    • Non Fiction Scripts - TV, Radio, Social Media, Advertising, Education, Voice overs, News
  3. News Writing
    • Writing News
    • Headlines
    • Lede
    • Key Point Summary in Digital Formats
    • Reverse Pyramid
    • News Coverage and Focus
    • Conflict
    • Proximity
    • Prominence
    • Impact
    • Relevance
    • Oddity/Human Interest
    • Timeliness
    • Newswriting for Different outlets
    • Newspapers
    • News Websites
    • Broadcast News
    • Newsletters
    • Blogs
  4. Travel Writing
    • Commercial Travel Writing
    • Overused Descriptions in Travel Writing
    • Holidays
    • Special Events
    • Travel Bloggers
    • Adventure Tourism
    • Lifestyle Blogging
    • How to Travel
    • Destination Pieces
    • Adventure Travel
    • Side Trips/Weekend Trips
    • Literary Travel Writing
    • Career Paths for Travel Writers
    • How to be a Good Travel Writer
    • How to Construct a Travel Piece
    • Researching a Travel Piece
    • How to Pitch a Travel Piece
  5. Memoirs and Biography
    • Types of Memoirs - Confessional , Transformational, Portrait, Professional
    • Diaries
    • How to Write a Memoir or Biography
    • Autobiography
    • Research
    • Biography and Profiles
    • How to Pitch a Memoir, Autobiography or Biography
  6. Writing about Leisure Activities
    • Introduction
    • Niche or Widespread Writing
    • Leisure and Hobby Writing
    • Hobby Writing
    • Sports Writing
    • Craft Writing
    • Garden Writing
    • How to Pitch Leisure, Sports and Craft Writing
  7. Writing about Food and Diet
    • How to Write about Food
    • Constructing a Food Article
    • Sensory Writing
    • Recipes
    • Informative Writing
    • Types of Food Writing
    • Nutritional R & D
    • Allergies and Intolerances
    • Recipes, Diet & Exercise
    • How to Pitch Food Writing
  8. Writing about Wellbeing
    • How to Write about Health and Wellbeing
    • Grounding and Context
    • Plain English
    • Research
    • Balanced Viewpoints
    • Different Types of Health and Wellbeing Writing
    • Health, Medicine and Complimentary Medicine
    • Creative Therapies
    • Exercise
  9. Fact Based Storytelling
    • Storytelling at Work
    • Storytelling with Data
    • Sales and Marketing
    • True Crime
    • Historical Events
    • Seeking Stories
  10. The Business of Non-Fiction Writing
    • Successful Writers
    • Collaborative Writing
    • Delivering your Work
    • Management and Opportunities
    • Contracts and Publishers
    • How to Make Writing More Profitable
    • Syndication
    • Intellectual Property Management
    • Legal Systems
    • Protecting Your Work - copyright, Issues
    • Copyright Licencing
    • Risks when Writing Non Fiction - specific, libel, defamation, slander, false light
    • Fact Checking, Perspective & Time Shift
    • Copyright Infringement
    • Accuracy Errors
    • Digital Rights Management
    • Information Rights Management
    • Electronic Books and Magazines
    • Referencing
    • Thinking Outside the Box


  • Discuss the scope and nature of commercial and professional non-fiction writing.
  • Distinguish between different forms of non-fiction writing used in different contexts including different industries and disciplines.
  • Formulate and create news writing for different applications.
  • Formulate and create travel writing for different applications.
  • Formulate and create biographical writing for different applications.
  • Formulate and create craft, sports, hobbies, and related writing for different applications.
  • Formulate and create food writing for different applications.
  • Formulate and create wellbeing writing for different applications.
  • Explain how to write fact-based stories.
  • Explain how non-fiction writing is a business.


Non-fiction writers often draw from the same toolbox as fiction writers. These are useful when writing across different genres to help differentiate content, especially when drawing on the same base research, or when a different perspective is needed. It is important to note, however, that fiction techniques should be used deliberately and in alignment with the text – not every article needs to use every technique. 

Your story should be memorable

Human beings have been interesting and drawn to stories since the dawn of time. Stories were told orally or through pictures at first, then came books, then TV, social media, videos and so on.  Whatever media we are looking at, we are often being told a story.  An event on the news today is told as a story. The presenter will write or verbally tell us a story of the event. The event will be more factually told on the news, but it is still a story.  Oxford Languages defines a story as – “an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment.” And “an account of past events in someone's life or in the development of something.”   

Even non-fiction work can be woven into a story, with a beginning, conflict, and resolution.  This is important because humans remember stories far better than they remember formulas or abstract rules and ideas. Rather than writing a dry article about the nutritional value of beans, a good non-fiction author will research not just the beans, but go out and collect real-life stories of people who have benefitted from including beans in their diet, then use these to create a text that showcases the nutritional value of beans alongside their positive effects on people who eat them. This could be framed as an overcoming or success story, e.g., beans contributing to weight loss or helping conquer a health issue, or as an educational story, with further input from nutritionists and other health educators – that framing is dependent on the outlet the story is intended for. Regardless, focussing on the story element and   giving examples from real life can help to expand our story and make it more interesting.  

Hook the Audience

Good writing grabs the reader’s attention from the start – then keeps it all the way to the end.  Non-fiction writers are in competition with thousands of other writers. Creating a hook that differentiates work is essential to standing out from the crowd. This means that the headline and first two sentences of any article are often the deciding factor in whether a reader will continue reading.  

There are several different methods for capturing a reader’s attention.

Write a memorable first (and maybe second) sentence.  Some examples –

  • Bill Bryson – Neither Here Nor There – Opening Sentence – “I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.”  Or in his book Down Under –Flying into Australia, “I realised with a sigh that I had forgotten again who their prime minister was.”
  •  The opening sentence of Nick Hornby’s memoir Fever Pitch is “I fell in love with football as I was later to fall in love with women: suddenly, inexplicably, uncritically, giving no thought to the pain or disruption it would bring with it.”
  •  Dilbert Blog by Scott Adams wrote a blog with the opening line, “I went from being a bad writer to a good writer after taking a one-day course in “business writing.” 

These lines make the reader want to read more.  What happened to Nick Hornby in relation to football and women? What happened with Bill Bryson when he couldn’t remember the Australian prime minister’s name? And what is so bad about Des Moines? A good opening line leads the reader to a series of questions, making them want to know more.

Ask a Question. Another way to capture the reader’s attention is to ask the audience a question, though it is generally best to ensure the question cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”.   As Betteridge’s Law of Headlines states: "Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no". This leaves the reader room to say “no” and move on to the next piece of content.  

While there are some questions that may benefit from a yes/no answer, e.g. “Do you want to learn more about climate change?” this type of question is best positioned before a call to action (e.g., “click here”). In the context of hooking the audience, non-fiction writers are generally aiming for questions in the “did you know”, “how-to”, and “discover” categories. These can be framed in terms of offering knowledge or offering an emotional experience through establishing rapport with the reader.

 Write a well-crafted headline. Well-written, succinct headlines can also attract attention. Some famous examples include:

  •  Japan, US at War
  •  War Over
  •  Nelson Mandela Freed
  •  Superbaby (about the world’s first test tube baby, Louise Brown)
  •  Diana Dies After Paris Car Crash

 These headlines attract the reader’s attention. The same applies to other areas of non-fiction writing. Attracting the attention of the reader by a shocking headline or title can be useful. Note, however, that headlines do not always follow precise grammatical rules – they are often concise to create the most impact. As a result, most headlines are followed by a lede (also spelled “lead”), a 1-2 line summary of the key points in the article.

Start your writing with a personal story or a historical story. Drawing the reader into a narrative with the personal is an effective technique, particularly for essays or books that on topics that can feel impersonal or removed, such as DNA profiling.  Kama Einhorn’s essay in The New York Times “Modern Love” column, on finding her biological family, is a good example of using a well-crafted headline in conjunction with a personal narrative opening to help capture the reader’s interest. –In A Stranger Looked Like My Twin. That Was Just the Beginning, Einhorn narrates her journey into discovering her biological family and this new conception of love; although the piece is a personal essay, it could also serve as the attention-catching beginning of a larger work exploring the societal impact of ancestry services, or the science behind DNA matching.


There are lots of reasons why you should sign up to do this course with us, including:

  • The course is detailed to ensure that you have the level of knowledge required to apply the practices in your own work, whether that's for a business or your own personal writing
  • Within each lesson you have the opportunity to apply your learning to activities which enables you to practice different concepts and expand your own research in areas of interest
  • Knowledge of these key areas will enable you to stand out from other applicants when it comes to applying for jobs, it will also give you greater confidence
  • Having the knowledge of different writing techniques will enable you to work in many different sectors and business types, giving you flexibility now and in the future
  • Our subject specialist tutors will be there to support you throughout your course, they are only too happy to share their industry knowledge and experience with you
  • When studying with us you set your own deadlines, meaning you study at your own pace enabling it to fit around other commitments


You can enrol on the course now, but if you have any questions about the content of the course or studying with ACS, then please get in touch with us today - use our FREE COURSE COUNSELLING SERVICE to get in touch with our expert tutors. They will be pleased to help you!


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