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I have one book published and I am working on my second book. The first was a collection of articles that I had written that were already published, so that was easy, we just put them together. Book number two is much harder, it's a specific topic and it is non-fiction. I was wondering where I can find resources for non-fiction writing in terms of structure. (What each chapter should contain; how I should go from one to the next;Is there a "formula" like there is in screenwriting? etc.) Thanks!

Dear Sam:

First, let me apologize for the delay in answering your question, which I received yesterday, the 28th. First my computer was down, then the website was down. It has just come up this morning.

As far as I know, there is no "formula" for non-fiction as there is for screenplays, romance novels, etc. You may arrange your book as it pleases you - it should be clear there is organization, however.  

A non-fiction book is simply a long essay, and I believe that a study of essays would profit you in structuring your material. Sources for studying essays include (you will have to cut and paste as this site does not support hyperlinks):

If you need more information, type "How to write an essay" into your search engine - you will get many hits.

As for getting from one chapter to another, I have seen a fiction technique used effectively in several non-fiction books: use the subject of Chapter 10, for example, in the ending of Chapter 9. If Chapter 10 deals with foods served in high school cafeterias, you might end Chapter 9 by saying, "However, blah, blah, blah, is not nearly as important as what high school students actually eat during the schoolday." I found this technique very helpful in maintaining my interest in the book. But it's not mandatory - end your chapters in the way you like.

Here are some resources for non-fiction writing:

If you need more information, type "How to structure a non-fiction book" into your search engine - again, you will get many hits.

I don't know if you can find much information on the Net as to what should go in the various chapters, but once you get familiar with essays and how they are organized, I believe you will see how it works. If you still have problems, come back - we are always here for you.

I hope this has helped. If it has, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated. I am proud of my "straight 10" record over 185+ questions.

And good luck with your book!

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Susan Rand


I can answer questions about the elements of fiction and non-fiction writing: how to get started, writing techniques, re-writing, etc. I will NOT write for you, do critiques except from my website at, or give you ideas. I will not answer home-or-schoolwork questions in any category. If English is your second language, please say so, and I will make an exception. Please submit no more than one or two questions at once, as I tend to go into detail in my answers.


I wrote my first book in 1957 and have been writing and studying writing since. I have a BA in Written Communications, and have taught writing both privately and through adult education for 15 years. Have also edited (fiction books) for an online publisher and edited/wrote more than 100 articles for a teen sex education site. Currently writing web content and mentoring beginning writers.

BA degree in Written Communication

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