YOUR NEXT GREAT BOOK TOPIC
You’ve probably heard the common writer’s adage, “Write about what you know.” Which is often a good idea. But I’d also add, “and what you’re truly passionate about.”
If you’re interested in a particular topic, your genuine excitement about this subject will come through in your writing. Your enthusiasm will bring insights that help create a fresh, interesting story. Whether you’re a nonfiction or fiction author, crafting a story which includes people, activities, sports, or other topics you deeply care about can lead to some of your best writing.
Of course, this begs the question, “What am I passionate about?”
If you’re not sure, ask yourself the following:
What do your friends and family say you do very well?
What topics do you like to discuss until the wee hours of the night?
What do you spend hours doing and lose all track of time?
Do people often ask you for advice about a certain topic?
Once you’ve identified a passion you’d like to write about. You may want to do some additional research. Odds are, you’re already familiar with the latest and best sources on the topic and have spent hours looking them over, so your research may be a rather fast and easy process. Your inherent curiosity might also compel you to dig deep into new sources and discover surprising nuggets that other writers might overlook.
You probably even know some fellow aficionados you could ask questions you might have. And, this book project would give you the perfect excuse to reach out to an expert that you’d love to chat with.
MY WRITING EXPERIENCE
I recently wrote several books on a topic I’m very passionate about—space. (Background: I’m a mechanical engineer who worked on rockets early in my engineering career.) So I find space travel, particularly the Apollo moon missions, absolutely fascinating.
Years ago, I decided to write a picture book about the twelve astronauts who walked on the moon. Most everyone knows about the first two moonwalkers, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, but very few are familiar with the other ten brave astronauts and their incredible discoveries on the moon. And I wanted to change that.
As I began my research, I knew it would be extremely helpful (and out-of-this-world fantastic!) to interview a real live moonwalker. But I figured it would be nearly impossible to find a way to contact any of the remaining six that were alive at the time. (Sidenote: There are only four moonwalkers still living today.) Yet, the fact that I was working on a book project gave me the courage to make my best attempt to see if I could find a way.
In the end, I found an email address for Alan Bean, the fourth man on the moon. He promptly responded to my email inquiry (in very large font.) After a few more email exchanges, he agreed to several phone interviews. Interviewing astronaut Bean was undoubtedly one of the highlights of my writing career. And Alan even agreed to write an Afterword for the book! (DARING DOZEN: THE TWELVE WHO WALKED ON THE MOON was published March 2019.)
THE LONG BOOK JOURNEY
As authors, we know that it can take many years of hard work before a book finally releases. Another advantage of writing about something you’re passionate about plays out in a book’s long journey to publication. Your interest will keep you energized and enthused during that process—from initial research, to countless edits, to your final pass of the book layout. Your personal passion will also help you catch small details in sketch reviews.
And best of all, you will enjoy spending time and learning even more about a subject you already love. You might even surprise yourself and uncover some fascinating facts you didn’t even know!
About the author:
Suzanne Slade is the award-winning author of over 130 children's books. A mechanical engineer by degree (who worked on rockets), several of her recent books are about space: COUNTDOWN: 2979 DAYS TO THE MOON an illustrated novel-in-verse (2019 NSTA Best STEM Book), DARING DOZEN: THE TWELVE WHO WALKED ON THE MOON, and A COMPUTER CALLED KATHERINE: HOW KATHERINE JOHNSON HELPED PUT AMERICA ON THE MOON. Her fiction picture book ASTRONAUT ANNIE was sent to the Space Station where it was read by astronaut Anne McClain for the Story Time From Space program. Suzanne also enjoys sharing inspiring historical figures in her books such as OUT OF SCHOOL AND INTO NATURE: THE ANNA COMSTOCK STORY, DANGEROUS JANE (Jane Addams), THE MUSIC IN GEORGE'S HEAD: GEORGE GERSHWIN CREATES RHAPSODY IN BLUE, and more. Find out more at suzanneslade.com Twitter: @AuthorSSlade