By Peggy Thomas
For anyone who is leery of leaping into nonfiction writing, I’d like to suggest Nonfiction-lite. Adding a nonfiction element to your fictional project. One way is by adding nonfiction back matter. This works especially well if there is an historic or scientific element to your story.
For example, in How Fire Ants Got Their Fire, a fictional origin story, fellow Ninja Susan Kralovansky added a recipe for the main character’s “prizewinnin’ chili.” But what I like most is the creative way that she included facts about fire ants on the end pages. Each fact is displayed on a chili pepper.
My good friend Kathleen Blasi’s sweet story called Milo’s Moonlight Mission follows the main character, Milo, as he helps his mother do all of her chores so she can accompany Captain Milo on his space launch. But when they hear about a meteor storm, they prepare for a new mission. Based on a real experience, Kathy added back matter that explains what a comet is and when to watch the Leonid Meteor shower each year. There is even a call to action as she asks readers if they will set their alarm to watch the next one.
One more example comes from fellow Ninja Lisa Amstutz. Her picture book called, Finding a Dove for Gramps, follows a boy and his mother as they participate in the Christmas Bird Count. Tension rises when the one bird they most hope to find proves elusive. In the back matter Lisa added a short description of the Bird Count, how to join, and most fun of all, a checklist of birds so readers can join in the hunt.
Adding nonfiction back matter to a fictional story adds educational value that librarians and teachers love, and added sales value that editors appreciate.
So, what kind of back matter could you add to your writing project? A recipe, craft, game, fun facts, background info, call to action…?
Leap in! Nonfiction is fun!
Peggy Thomas is the author of dozens of award-winning nonfiction titles including Lincoln Clears a Path.
We are nonfiction authors who support readers and writers through our writing, author visits, and workshops.
The Nonfiction Ninjas are a group of writers with diverse ideas and a strong belief in The First Amendment. The views expressed in each post are those of the author and may differ from others in the group.