Clients often order nonfiction or technical articles from Textbroker on topics such as finance, law, medicine, or marketing and management. They often start with sentences like this, "Write an informative text on the topic xy …". These "nonfiction" articles are not a traditional journalistic text genre, so sometimes it’s hard to get the client’s idea to work the way they might have wanted it to, but didn’t formulate it.
But how do I write a good text that doesn’t fit into any text genre and thus has no clear rules? How do I know how to approach this topic at a professional level without turning it into a collection of boilerplate text?? We will take a closer look at some well-known text genres and adopt important elements from them in order to write a good and informative text on the topic.
First of all, the most important prerequisite for a successful technical or non-fiction article is that you know the subject you want to write about really well. You can research all the details, but the subject area should basically match your interests or knowledge. Not only will it be easier to write, but you will also notice errors in the content that you might not notice when researching a new topic.
Who should read it and why?
Remember that you are writing primarily for the reader. Therefore, it is especially important to know the target audience your article should reach. Be clear about who the people are, what they already know about the topic, and the purpose of your non-fiction text to reach them. What should your text achieve later on the client’s website?
The obvious purpose of nonfiction is to provide accurate and precise information about a specific topic. It should answer questions, show solutions and provide added value. The deeper purpose behind it is also called content marketing. The operator of the website on which your text is published wants to present himself, his service or his product positively in the perception of the reader.
The text must not look like an advertisement. An editorial and neutral article on a topic should inform the reader, explain a complicated issue or answer a question. This creates trust and shows that the provider is well versed in his topics. Of course, as the author, you have to know your stuff. Don’t assume too much expertise from the reader, but explain what he needs to know in an understandable way.
Think first, then write
Sort out your thoughts before you write a line. Take a sheet of paper and sketch out what you can think of on the topic, what else is interesting to say about it. An important point of reference are, for example, the seven classical W-questions. You can supplement it with other questions that the reader might have about the topic. If you can’t think of any questions, you can create a mind map with important keywords. From this you develop a structure for the article.
Now begins the Research. Google the keywords, read across, find other reliable sources. As you read through the material, always ask yourself: who is saying what, and for what motives?? Try to cross-check each researched fact by finding at least a second reliable source that claims the same thing.
From a cluster or a brainstorming session on paper, you can now pick out the most important theses on the topic, sort them by relevance and write them down. Formulate an argument for each thesis – keywords are sufficient for now. Maybe you can come up with a nice example that clarifies the subject matter.
More colorful mix than clear structure
Some will remember this structure from the classic Discussion know. You don’t have to do it the same way, some writers are already good at pre-sorting this in their head for their subject areas. But if you have structured a complex topic clearly, writing the final text is an easy exercise. You will write only along your scaffold and express the sorted thoughts.
With the Specialized articles our non-fiction article really has only one thing in common: it deals with a specifically defined topic at a professional level. However, a scientific article is a scientific work with very precise guidelines, which are rarely used for web texts.
In its function, the nonfiction article described here comes close to that of the Features quite close: explain a complex issue in an understandable way, let yourself look behind the facade, tell and analyze even sober topics in an entertaining way. The feature is used journalistically but rather to abstract current issues and illustrate generally valid things with a "little story within a story". The non-fiction article may also see itself as an "explanatory piece," but it has a more concrete and technical intent than the narrative feature.
With the Guide text the factual article has the solution-oriented approach in common. First, a problem is examined in more detail and after consideration, your readers are finally presented with possible solutions. One clear difference, however, is neutrality: a nonfiction text doesn’t commit to a product, service, or idea as a solution. In contrast, a guidebook tries to give concrete suggestions for solutions.
Convince instead of persuade
When Textbroker clients order a non-fiction article, they usually want to publish it on their blog or website, where it will give prospects or customers a helping hand. This increases the trust in the provider – and this should not be directly destroyed with clumsy product advertising. If the text gives the reader a Added value Offers or gives answers, then it has served its purpose and you have done a good job as a writer.
As with all audience copy, the basic rules of understandable writing apply here:
Treat the topic as detailed as necessary so that everyone can understand it.
You see, it is not always easy to fulfill customer wishes. Especially if you are not at all clear about what exactly is wanted. But with the right mix of these well-known, clearly defined style forms that can be researched anywhere, you can write a good text that the reader and the client will like. Even if this sounds like a lot of theory at first, the more practice you have, the easier it will be for you to write texts.
About the author:
Katharina Bellinger works as an online journalist and in PR. She was with Textbroker from 2011 to 2014 as a content& Community Manager hired. Now she works in the Hessian Ministry of Economics as well as freelance in online communication.