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Nonfiction Writing 101

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  • 13
  • 28
    Exams &
  • 12
    average time
  • 1.2
  • 894
    have taken this course

Course Description

The famous Ayn Rand once wrote, "Like every human activity, [writing] requires practice and knowledge. But there is nothing mystical about it. Any person who can speak English grammatically can learn to write nonfiction." This is as true today as when Ms. Rand first penned it, and you will find it true for you as well as you begin to venture into the world of writing.

Nonfiction writing is the most common and broadly dispersed form of writing known to mankind. Nonfiction is based in truth, experience, events or in all of them. It is what the reporter reports; what the biographer writes; what the course writer explains. Everything that is not imagination and invented by the creative mind is nonfiction.

This course is designed to take you beyond the basics and to guide you through the writing process to the finish line. In the course, you will learn how to think like an editor, how to choose your subject matter and examine your competition. You will learn how to structure your writing and what to do when you inevitably hit the infamous "writer's block." If you have basic writing skills and if you follow the course content, you should be ready to submit your writing by the end of the course material. You will know what to do with your article or book when you are finished and how to polish it for presentation to a publisher. Remember, "Writers Write" – so get to writing!

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  • Completely Online
  • Self-Paced
  • 6 Months to Complete
  • 24/7 Availability
  • Start Anytime
  • PC & Mac Compatible
  • Android & iOS Friendly
  • Accredited CEUs
Universal Class is an IACET Accredited Provider

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Course Lessons

Average Lesson Rating:
4.7 / 5 Stars (Average Rating) 4.7 / 5 Stars (Average Rating) 4.7 / 5 Stars (Average Rating) 4.7 / 5 Stars (Average Rating) 4.7 / 5 Stars (Average Rating)
"Extraordinarily Helpful"
(1,064 votes)

Lesson 1: Before You Start, Think Like An Editor

To do anything well in life you must begin by knowing what the critics of your work will object to, what they will turn away from, and what they will buy. Nonfiction writing is no different. 38 Total Points
  • Review Article: Why Write Nonfiction?
  • Complete Assignment: An Introduction
  • Complete: Lesson 1 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 1: Before You Start, Think Like An Editor

Lesson 2: Article, Project, or Book?

Before you begin writing you must have a clear understanding of what type of writing you are setting out to accomplish. This is far more important in nonfiction writing than in fiction or creative writing. 33 Total Points
  • Take Poll: Types of Nonfiction
  • Complete: Lesson 2 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 2: Article, Project or Book?

Lesson 3: Subject, Title, and Subtitles

In order for your work to make sense, you must limit or draw boundaries around a portion or niche of your subject matter. If you have no boundaries or niche, then your writing becomes ineffective and does not accomplish your intent or persuasively convey your thesis. 34 Total Points
  • Review Article: 7 Title Templates
  • Complete: Lesson 3 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 3: Subject, Title and Subtitles

Lesson 4: Researching Your Subject

This lesson is about the references and material available to you to properly write about your subject. 34 Total Points
  • Review 2 Articles: A Survival Guide to Archival Research; Library of Congress
  • Take Poll: Research
  • Complete: Lesson 4 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 4: Researching Your Subject

Lesson 5: Reviewing Your Competition

Before you bid on a nonfiction writing project and before you begin writing your material, you must review your competition. 35 Total Points
  • Review 3 Articles: Writing Styles; Selling Your Nonfiction Book; Freelance Writing
  • Complete: Lesson 5 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 5: Reviewing Your Competition

Lesson 6: Structure and Organization

It doesn't matter how bright or educated you are, if you cannot keep your manuscript together so that others can easily understand it when they read, then you are not producing salable nonfiction work. 32 Total Points
  • Review 2 Articles: Organizing your Writing; Transitions
  • Complete: Lesson 6 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 6: Structure and Organization

Lesson 7: Writers Write; Getting Comfy in Your Own Skin

When you are comfortable with yourself, and as a writer, your personal writing style will flow naturally. The best way to get there is to practice your art. 35 Total Points
  • Review Article: 101 Nonfiction Writing Prompts
  • Complete: Lesson 7 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 7: Writers Write; Getting Comfy in Your Own Skin

Lesson 8: Get to the Finish Line; What to Do When You Hit a Block

As an editor, one of the questions I am most often asked is, "How do I get my work finished?" This question is common, especially among new or first time writers. 35 Total Points
  • Review 3 Articles: Cure Writer's Block; Getting Out of Writer's Block; Overcoming Writer's Block
  • Take Poll: Writer's Block
  • Complete: Lesson 8 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 8: Get To The Finish Line; What To Do When You Hit A Block

Lesson 9: Rewriting and Rhythm; Polishing for Your Audience

As an editor, one of the first things I tell writers is to consider your audience. Always consider your reading audience. 33 Total Points
  • Review Article: How to Rewrite
  • Complete: Lesson 9 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 9: Rewriting and Rhythm; Polishing for Your Audience

Lesson 10: Spelling, Grammar, and Proper Punctuation

Spelling, grammar, and punctuation are important finishing touches that will make the difference in whether your manuscript gets off of the editor's desk to the press or into the "never" basket. 35 Total Points
  • Review 2 Articles: Grammar Guide; Guide to Grammar and Writing
  • Complete: Lesson 10 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 10: Spelling, Grammar and Proper Punctuation

Lesson 11: Edit and Edit Again

While the nonfiction writer must be prepared for the inevitable changes to his or her manuscript when submitting to an editor or client, it is of utmost importance to edit your work before submission. 33 Total Points
  • Review 2 Articles: Editing Tips; More Editing Tips
  • Complete: Lesson 11 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 11: Edit and Edit Again

Lesson 12: Fact Checking and Proper Notation

If you do not get your facts correct, then you lose credibility as a nonfiction writer and you soon become someone that editors and publishers are not interested in publishing. 34 Total Points
  • Complete: Lesson 12 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 12: Fact Checking and Proper Notation

Lesson 13: Layout, Proper Spacing, and Format - Your Finished Product

While it is easy to understand the intention, most editors and clients want the finished product delivered in a very plain form. The reasons have to do with publishing rather than your manuscript's content. 92 Total Points
  • Take Poll: Course Completion Poll: Your Thoughts
  • Take Survey: Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course)
  • Complete: Lesson 13 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 13: Layout, Proper Spacing and Format – Your Finished Product
  • Complete: The Final Exam
Total Course Points
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Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Know how to think like an editor.
  • Define article, project and book.
  • Identify subject, title and subtitles.
  • Research your subject.
  • Review your competition.
  • Identify structure and organization.
  • Write.
  • Know what to do when you hit a block.
  • Identify what needs to be polished for your audience.
  • Perform spelling and grammar check.
  • Edit and edit again.
  • Fact check and provide proper notation.
  • Demonstrate layout, proper spacing and format, and submit your finished product, and
  • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.
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Additional Course Information

Online CEU Certificate
  • Document Your Lifelong Learning Achievements
  • Earn an Official Certificate Documenting Course Hours and CEUs
  • Verify Your Certificate with a Unique Serial Number Online
  • View and Share Your Certificate Online or Download/Print as PDF
  • Display Your Certificate on Your Resume and Promote Your Achievements Using Social Media
Document Your CEUs on Your Resume
Course Title: Nonfiction Writing 101
Course Number: 7550291
Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
Course Type: General Education (Self-Paced, Online Class)
CEU Value: 1.2 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
Instructor: Melissa Behrend
Syllabus: View Syllabus
Duration: Continuous: Enroll anytime!
Course Fee: $65.00 (no CEU Certification) || with Online CEU Certification: $90.00

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Student Testimonials

  • "What a great teacher for this class, I thought." -- S. Marie V.
  • "The instructor gave excellent advice and was very knowledgeable and helpful. The entire course was helpful; learning everything to get started with nonfiction writing; how to succeed at it. Lots of excellent advice; extremely helpful." -- Heather P.
  • "The lesson material and the related links were most helpful. I liked the condensed comprehensive lessons, they contained essential information without being overwhelming. The links contained excellent resources that I can use any time. The lessons were well thought out and flowed in a logical manner and was very useful. The instructor was prompt in marking." -- Dyanne C.
  • "I liked how the instructor didn't just grade the assignments, but gave comments about my work. She seemed very knowledgeable in the subject. I will be taking other classes from Universal." -- Laura V.
  • "The various lessons were very helpful in gaining knowledge about writing." -- Tenika J.
  • "This course was great." -- Janet M.
  • "Very helpful instructor." -- Tracy C.
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