Selecting a Genre
Now that you have made the decision to write nonfiction, there are two ways to go about choosing what type of nonfiction you want to write. On the one hand, perhaps you have always wanted to write a book, so a book project it shall be. Or, you opt for writing opinion pieces because you have been a regular reader of the op-ed page and now want to see your name in print while you present opinions which you passionately hold.
On the other hand, you have an idea and want to pursue it in some way but you're not sure what form it should take. For example, you love to travel, and you take several trips a year to unusual and even exotic destinations. You want to write about your experiences but you're not sure if you want this to be about just one trip or many trips or focus on the sights and sounds versus the practicalities of making the journey. You're thinking maybe an article or possibly a series of articles, a personal essay, or maybe even a travel book. You're just not sure.
In the first scenario, you have decided upon the genre but need the project to fill it. In the second scenario, you've got the idea but you're not sure in what shape it should be crafted. To succeed in either case, you must have a comprehensive understanding of the various categories of nonfiction — what they require, the type of subject matter, the style of writing, the protocols, and the forms of presentation — and then choose the genre best suited for you.
You could go about selecting the genre the way some people make decisions, like randomly throwing darts at a dartboard. But that rarely achieves the best results. So, a general survey of the options awaiting you is a good way to get started and the chapters that follow will explore the categories in more detail.