Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown children’s novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, traveling, and reading.
Take it away Nikolas!
Remember All That Time You Spent Before?
Nonfiction and research writing have a lot of similar characteristics. Both focus on facts instead of fiction, both focus on spending timing looking for information, and both like to utilize quotes and citations. When you write a memoir or biography, even if it’s about yourself, do you not spend many hours looking through photos or remembering stories to catalog? Do you not spend hours interviewing another person trying to smooth out the details? With research writing, you end up performing the exact same tasks. In order to write a well-researched essay or paper, you must find credible sources, interview experts, and find important quotes to include. The love for digging up information from your, or someone else’s, past can be used to search through many sources for research information. If you’re looking to expand beyond nonfiction, why not use the skills you already have and try research writing.
Skills to Utilize
Researching: When you write nonfiction whether it’s a book or a blog, you have to be a good researcher and find truthful information. Research writing is, at its very core, extremely dependent on good research. You interview many different people for your book, but when you research write, you want to make sure that you cross-check the information between different sources. It may take you awhile to learn what sources are the best to use and you may have to shift gears slightly, but your nonfiction research skills can easily translate into research writing skills.
Interviewing: For a biography, you need to spend quite a large amount of time tape recording interviews, coming up with great questions, and getting the answers to those questions. Research writing follows along the same lines. Although you may not always be talking face-to-face, coming up with a list of questions you want to answer makes researching and finding the right sources easier. If you work for a university and need to write an article about the school’s new water purification system implemented by a new professor, you’ll need to interview them, but also confirm the answers are right by researching. Interviewing sources, whether to check for credibility or get quotes, is something that nonfiction writers should be comfortable with; therefore making it easy to use for research writing.
Factual, clear-cut writing: The style of nonfiction writing can sometimes be straightforward and not as dreamy as fiction writing. This works in their favor when it comes to research writing. Although it’s nice to have some spice here and there, the audience of a research paper, essay, or article is more closely related to a nonfiction audience. Nonfiction writing focuses on facts and information; just like research writing. It should be simple to implement your nonfiction style of writing to research writing.
Proofreading/editing: This skill set crosses all forms of writing. If you’re an excellent nonfiction proofreader/editor, then editing research writing should be a breeze. They have similar styles, punctuation, grammar, and syntax. They focus on facts and quotes that can be checked and cited in the same exact way.
Plus, you can use great online tools such as Grammarly to help you check for plagiarism if you think you have an issue. When you’re retelling someone’s nonfiction story, plagiarism may not be as big of an issue as it is in research writing. If you plagiarize, even forgetting to cite a source or a quote, the research article could be in serious jeopardy; especially if you’re writing for a technical client. Always reviewing your work for plagiarism is critical when it comes to research writing but by using Grammarly, this can be easily accomplished. Changing over editing skills shouldn’t be an issue for any writer who typically proofreads nonfiction.
As a nonfiction writer, you can sometimes feel trapped when it comes to what to write about. Research writing can be a breath of fresh air because it uses the same set of skills but lets you immerse yourself in new material. Individual’s stories are not always the focus of research writing. You could be writing about the plight of tigers instead of someone’s memoir. Your skills are your business. Expanding it as much as possible, including research writing, is necessary to keeping your writing alive.