Writer's Guide to Nonfiction

Elizabeth Lyon, Author
Elizabeth Lyon, Author Perigee Books $14.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-399-52867-5
Reviewed on: 03/03/2003
Release date: 03/01/2003
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""You know something others don't know and need,"" insists Lyon (Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write), and in her confident, optimistic writing primer, the first in the Writer's Compass series, she shows would-be authors how to find their area of expertise and turn it into an article, essay or even a book. Walking her readers through the writing process, from ""What to I want to Say?"" to ""Writing About Ideas"" and from ""Troubleshooting and Problem Solving"" to ""Learning How to Market,"" Lyon crafts a detailed and practical course for the nonfiction novice. Those with a partially formed idea can turn to her section on different types of nonfiction pieces and the subjects to which they're suited, or her chapter on slants to determine the tone of a future piece. (A proponent of the look-before-you-leap school of creative endeavor, Lyon advocates a lot of planning before beginning a writing project.) Writers with a slightly clearer idea can ponder different leads, such as the one-line hook or the direct address, and methods of organization such as comparison and contrast. Almost all the chapters include multiple ""maps,"" which might list ""outstanding"" memoirs and ""choices for ending well,"" or guide readers through researching travel pieces and writing a query letter. Her troubleshooting section offers checklists for success, and, like all the other chapters, includes a sidebar on recommended reading. This detailed and practical guide may not guarantee writing hopefuls a book deal, but it distinguishes itself from other writing how-tos by its concrete and economical advice. (Mar.)
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