The Most Essential Elements of Any Non-Fiction Work

How to draw readers in and keep them interested

What is the difference between the biography of Elon Musk, and your physics textbook (draw such a comparison between any biography or autobiography and another non-fiction book)? Interest? Portrayal? Whether you’ve been forced into it or not?

Yes, those may contribute, but they are not the most important ones.

The most essential elements of a text that would draw people in are simply these:

  1. A sense of awe or admiration
  2. Anticipation

If a reader feels captivated by a story, they will hang onto it with their life. And this captivation can only be built with creativity.

I know it sounds clichéd, but writing is nothing without creativity. And surprisingly, most people seem to overlook this.

For example, read this passage and pay attention to how it sounds:

This block of wonder can do so much more than you would think. While it is usually used to support structures hundreds of feet high, its capabilities do not end there. Our product is going to revolutionise the toy and creative inspiration industry and disrupt it with a bang, knocking the established ‘experts’ off their feet. It has the scope to do almost anything — all that limits it is the extent of your creative and inventive ability. Sign up now to make sure you’re the first to kick start your life!

Can you guess what I was advertising?

It was a brick. A normal, red brick. Note how I created a sense of lust for the product by using words and phrases such as revolutionise and disrupt the industry.

The fact that I mention besting experts helps build interest and helps readers to trust me more.

Another thing to note is I never mention what the product really is. This is what creates anticipation.

And by making your readers want more, you give them the hook you need to reel them in and invest them in your story ten-fold.

If you give your readers something to look up to (if you’re writing a how-to post, for example), such as what you’ve accomplished, what people who took your guidance accomplished, or give them a list of things they can expect from their side if they follow the post, you would have successfully evoked administration in for yourself in the mind of your reader.

Let me clear something up: I’m not suggesting you make an outline of your story incorporating these two. You can, if you want though. But if you’re anything like me, you hate making outlines. Instead, use this as a final checkup checklist kind of thing, to make sure your readers stay yours.


Now it’s your turn! Pick a drab object and make it sound interesting. Leave your answer in the comments, but don’t tell us what the object is!

2 Replies to “The Most Essential Elements of Any Non-Fiction Work”

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