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Non-Fiction Love

Why You Should Feature Facts This February.

Maybe it’s time to write about love. It is February after all; it was Valentine’s Day yesterday. But I’m not thinking about fiction this February. I’m not creating romantic heroes and doom-struck lovers. There are no dastardly dates or swooning swains skipping across the screen of my laptop. No. Instead, I’m thinking about non-fiction. And maybe you should too.

Aside from the fact that it’s easier for a non-celebrity to get a publishing deal for a work of non-fiction than it is fiction, non-fiction is a joy to write. Trust me. I’ve written both and I’d say I loved the whole experience of writing facts just as much as I did making things up. Maybe that’s because I’m quite literal as a person or because I didn’t have to worry about juggling the myriad balls of plot, characterisation, setting and dialogue across 300 pages of make-believe. The truth, as I do really love writing fiction, is because I see there’s just as much fun, creativity and satisfaction to be had in writing non-fiction.

My non-fiction book was about happiness and mental health. I wanted to share the facts I’d learnt about being happy and being depressed. I wanted to help people but also to make them laugh. The fun was finding a way to get those facts over in an engaging and light-hearted way. And I did that through the voice of my little, one-eyed, much-loved dog Harry. Using his character to do that was always going to be much more interesting than mine.

I was thinking about all of this as I walked my dogs past my local bookshop in Kew this week. Peering in the window at their Valentine’s display, I noticed that the books featured were mostly non-fiction: A dictionary of love words, a ‘field guide’ to ex-boyfriends as sea creatures (how imaginative is that!) and a rather large book looking at the history of love in 50 objects. Fabulous! Luckily, one of my dogs (Pippa) refuses to enter shops and so I couldn’t get carried away and buy armfuls of books but I did feel inspired to turn my attention to non-fiction again.

And you can do the same. Love doesn’t have to be your theme. But it’s important to be passionate about your subject. I chose dogs and happiness.  What will you choose? How can you write about it in a way that grabs the attention of the book-curious as they pass a window display?   


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