We often talk about voice in fiction, but equal attention should be given to voice in non-fiction. In fact, if you give your non-fiction a voice appropriate to your topic, you will increase the odds that readers will stick with it until the end.
For many non-fiction topics, an entertaining voice will keep readers interested. I know I enjoy computer books by Scott Kelby just because he has such a humorous slant on things. The topic of his book might be the same as that of another author, but I’ll choose his every time because I know it will be informative and entertaining.
Some non-fiction, however, does not lend itself to a humorous or entertaining voice. This does not mean that your non-fiction writing needs to be dry and boring. On the contrary, it’s your job as a writer to make your subject interesting to those who plunk down their hard-earned money to buy it.
It’s best to try out several different voices on your non-fiction before your write. Write the first chapter several different ways as an experiment. For example, try writing it in any of the following voices…
I know this takes some time, but by completing this exercise, you’ll find a voice or a hybrid combination of voices that will fit you and the piece that you are writing. It’ll be worth the time.