When you write for business you need to connect with your audience. Dry facts turn people off. Learn to write to engage, because here we are now. Entertain us.
Kurt Cobain understood this way back in the nineties when his brain, at least, was still intact. Well, as intact as the brain of a heroin junkie can be. Apologies to any junkie I might offend.
We scoff and say it’s junk, ignoring the fact that he started an entire movement called Alternative that was so successful it became mainstream.
Granted he did name his daughter Francis Bean, but dear Francis can’t complain about all the beans Daddy left behind. This simple philosophy, and an insane amount of talent, made him a hugely successful artist.
Stephen King applied this thought when he began toying with the idea of writing a book about writing. He realised that very few people stayed up late to read a dictionary. He cleverly sandwiched grammar and writing tips in between a tale of his own life which can rival many of the imaginary horrors he wrote about. His memoir, On Writing, has become an inspirational read for writers.
Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner understood the importance of applying untraditional views to traditional economic theories. In Freakonomics, they apply a theory that economics is, basically, the study of incentives. Well so is reading. So they included sumo wrestlers and crack cocaine, and the use of legalised abortion to fight crime. Now you have a book about economics that even I am willing to read.
A Sad Place
The world is a sad, sad place. We deal with traffic, terrorists, crime, unwanted pregnancy, drunk driving, drunken teenagers, volcanoes, hurricanes and divorce. Then to top it all off we’re broke.
Yes, we deserve some TLC. A little something to make us feel better. A new pair of shoes? Too expensive. A new car? Only the bank manager is laughing. A nice dinner? Too expensive and fattening. A movie? They had to cut their budgets too and it shows.
So where do I turn?
Why, to the written word, of course.
Think about it. They last more than 1 1/2 hours. There are no bad actors. There are no ad breaks. They are not fattening. They don’t pinch your feet. You can read it lying down. If it’s bad you can burn it to save electricity. They make excellent door stops. They have a resale value. And, wait for it. They are entertaining.
During a worldwide recession where complete industries are shutting down, job losses are monumental and hunger and poverty are becoming the norm publishers are finding an increase in sales.
No, not of the important non-fiction variety. Not the self-improvement, if I read this book I will be smarter and find a better job variety. Nope. Folks are buying feel good romance novels, intriguing crime stories and good old laugh till your face hurts fun books. We want to be entertained. We want light entertainment.
So if you are thinking long and hard about a non-fiction book remember to apply the rules of fiction. Trick us fiction readers into putting our money on your table and get us to read your book.
With what will you entice us?
How will you surprise us? And how are you going to tell it?
Facts are dead. You are the writer make them live. Make me care about them.Think of Stephen King sitting in his big house (no, the other big one at the lake.) Think of Freakonomics. Teach me facts without me realising it.
Think of Kurt Cobain, because we are here now. Entertain us.
by Mia Botha
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