how to write an epilogue

How to Write an Epilogue: 4 Easy Steps [Examples Included]

When constructing a finalized novel, there’s much more to the book than just the story itself.

Books have many parts, and each serves a special purpose. While you might not include all of the possible sections in your final product, understanding each and knowing why and how they’re used will help you create a full, professional-looking book.

Today, we’re talking how to write an epilogue.

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What is an epilogue?

An epilogue, in fiction, is a supplemental part of a story. It appears after the story, and is often used to wrap up loose ends, or to see where the characters have ended up. It is typically set in the future from the main story.

Sometimes an epilogue can be used to set up or drop hints for the next installment in a series.

Epilogues are not a necessary part of a book, though many books include them.

Epilogues tend to follow certain formulas in certain genres. For example, an epilogue in a romance novel will typically show the main couple married, pregnant, with children, buying a house, or some other event in their future to show that they have, indeed, lived happily ever after.

Epilogue vs. Afterword

A lot of people confuse epilogues with afterwords, which makes sense! They’re both short sections at the end of a novel, and both discuss the story after it’s over.

The difference is that an epilogue is a continuation of the same story, in-universe. An afterword is a note about the story, either from the author themselves or from another relevant person.

In an afterword, an author might talk about their process, their research, why they wrote the story, the story’s relevance to the real world.

An epilogue is about the story and characters of the book itself.

how to write an epilogue

Do you need an epilogue?

Epilogues are not necessary to a book, so in a word, no. However, that doesn’t mean your book wouldn’t be enhanced with an epilogue. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to determine if your book would benefit from having an epilogue:

Will your book have a sequel?

If your book will have a sequel, or is a part of a series, the epilogue is a great place to drop hints about your next publication.

Do you have something to reiterate?

If you have a significant theme or moral you’d like to really hammer in, an epilogue is a potential place to do that. The epilogue is what your reader will be left with, so if you want to strengthen a theme with a resounding note, an epilogue is an option to achieve it.

Are there untied loose ends?

If there are untied ends to finalize, many writers might use an epilogue. I’d be careful to make sure your novel stands on its own, plot lines concluded, to be sure the epilogue isn’t used as a crutch for weak storytelling.

If the story would benefit from a stand-back-and-look-at-it type summary, or a glimpse into the characters’ future, those types of loose ends can be stapled with an epilogue.

Otherwise, your actual story should be satisfyingly wrapped up in the last chapter of the novel.

Is a character follow-up something your readers would enjoy?

In character-driven works, like romance novels, an epilogue is an opportunity to give the audience a little more time with your characters, as well as letting them see how their story after the story ends up.

With romance novels as the example, many readers enjoy seeing where the couple end up after the “happily ever after.” Are they buying a house? Do they have kids? Did they retire to a ranch? How far in the future you set your epilogue is up to you!

How to write an epilogue

If you believe your story would be enhanced with an epilogue, here are a few things to consider.

1. Choose a future point to set the epilogue

When your epilogue happens is important. How far in the future will you jump? Be sure to choose your timeframe intentionally, and use a period that will serve the story. If your epilogue happens too close in time to the end of your last chapter, why wouldn’t it be a scene on its own?

2. Reveal new information

If your epilogue merely repeats the ending of the book, it likely won’t do you much good. Some authors will use an epilogue at the end of a longer novel, like an epic fantasy, to give a sort of overhead snapshot to solidify a theme, or themes. In that case, it’s pretty much repeating information or sentiments that were spread through the book, but doing so long after the initial introductions of those sentiments.

Unless your book or series was notably long and complicated, the epilogue should reveal new information. New information could be anything from a hint of the next book’s premise to a pregnancy reveal for your main couple.

3. Offer a new point of view

Many epilogues are written in third-omniscient, giving the reader a helicopter view of the world, story, or characters. That doesn’t mean all epilogues need to be third-omniscient, but it is typical for there to be a new POV for the epilogue. Perhaps the epilogue is through a character’s POV we haven’t seen in the main body of the book. The same “rule” applies to prologues.

4. Prepare your readers for a sequel

Personally, I believe this is the most solid reasoning for including an epilogue in your book. If you want to set up a premise or teaser for a sequel, an epilogue is a great way to do that.

Some authors utilize epilogues for this reason, while others simply include the first scene or chapter of the next book as a teaser at the end.

Examples of good epilogues

A good epilogue is an extension of the story—it’s not a part of the story. Your story should be complete on its own, and an epilogue is like an accessory. Here are a couple examples of famous epilogues.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games is a series that follows Katniss Everdeen through multiple gladiator-style fights for her life. After the Hunger Games are eradicated, we get this reflective epilogue:

They play in the Meadow. The dancing girl with the dark hair and blue eyes. The boy with blond curls and gray eyes, struggling to keep up with her on his chubby toddler legs. It took five, ten, fifteen years for me to agree. But Peeta wanted them so badly. When I first felt her stirring inside of me, I was consumed with a terror that felt as old as life itself. Only the joy of holding her in my arms could tame it. Carrying him was a little easier, but not much.

The questions are just beginning. The arenas have been completely destroyed, the memorials built, there are no more Hunger Games. But they teach about them at school, and the girl knows we played a role in them. The boy will know in a few years. How can I tell them about that world without frightening them to death? My children, who take the words of the song for granted:

Deep in the meadow, under the willow

A bed of grass, a soft green pillow

Lay down your head, and close your sleepy eyes

And when again they open, the sun will rise.

Here it’s safe, here it’s warm

Here the daisies guard you from every harm

Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true

Here is the place where I love you.

My children, who don’t know they play on a graveyard.

Peeta says it will be okay. We have each other. And the book. We can make them understand in a way that will make them braver. But one day I’ll have to explain about my nightmares. Why they came. Why they won’t ever really go away.

I’ll tell them how I survive it. I’ll tell them that on bad mornings, it feels impossible to take pleasure in anything because I’m afraid it could be taken away. That’s when I make a list in my head of every act of goodness I’ve seen someone do. It’s like a game. Repetitive. Even a little tedious after more than twenty years.

But there are much worse games to play.

We see Katniss many years in the future, with her children, and as peaceful as she will probably ever get to be. This epilogue is a strong example of letting the reader peek into the future and see how the characters end up.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The epilogue in The Name of the Wind is popular for something pretty unique—the prologue and epilogue are very similar. Both are poems about silence in three parts, and both end with the same paragraph.

There are many theories about what Rothfuss was attempting to convey with it, but no matter why he did it, he wrote an incredibly strong prologue and epilogue:

IT WAS NIGHT AGAIN. The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts.

The first part was a hollow, echoing quiet, made by things that were lacking. If there had been horses stabled in the barn they would have stamped and champed and broken it to pieces. If there had been a crowd of guests, even a handful of guests bedded down for the night, their restless breathing and mingled snores would have gently thawed the silence like a warm spring wind. If there had been music…but no, of course there was no music. In fact there were none of these things, and so the silence remained.

Inside the Waystone a man huddled in his deep, sweet-smelling bed. Motionless, waiting for sleep, he lay wide-eyed in the dark. In doing this he added a small, frightened silence to the larger, hollow one. They made an alloy of sorts, a harmony.

The third silence was not an easy thing to notice. If you listened for an hour, you might begin to feel it in the thick stone walls of the empty taproom and in the flat, grey metal of the sword that hung behind the bar. It was in the dim candlelight that filled an upstairs room with dancing shadows. It was in the mad pattern of a crumpled memoir that lay fallen and un-forgotten atop the desk. And it was in the hands of the man who sat there, pointedly ignoring the pages he had written and discarded long ago.

The man had true-red hair, red as flame. His eyes were dark and distant, and he moved with the weary calm that comes from knowing many things.

The Waystone was his, just as the third silence was his. This was appropriate, as it was the greatest silence of the three, wrapping the others inside itself. It was deep and wide as autumn’s ending. It was heavy as a great river-smooth stone. It was the patient, cut-flower sound of a man who is waiting to die.

Does your book need an epilogue?

In short, most books do not need an epilogue. Epilogues are fantastic for baiting a sequel, and many readers of certain genres love to see how the characters end up further down the road. If either of those apply to your book, you might benefit from an epilogue!

If you haven’t wrapped up plot threads from your main story, you may need to rewrite the ending of your book, rather than stapling it together with an epilogue.

You also shouldn’t feel the need for an epilogue, if it isn’t something that your book requires.

Happy writing!

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SPS 157: How To Write & Publish A Memoir That Makes A Difference (Behind The Scenes Of The SPS Coaching Process) with Kerk Murray

Kerk Murray is our head coach as well as a student success coach. He is also the author of Pawprints On Our Hearts: How A Few Incredible Dogs Changed One Life Forever, a book that unpacks the journey we experience alongside the animals we love. After rescuing a street puppy, who later passed away, Kerk wanted to do something to help animals and started The Lexi’s Legacy Foundation. This is a foundation that supports rescues and sanctuaries to end suffering. Kerk even donates all of the proceeds of his book to the foundation.

Kerk has completed over 2000 one-on-one coaching calls and coached hundreds of authors as a coach. You’ll love this episode if you’re in the trenches or thinking about publishing a book. We dive into writing a memoir that sells well and creates a positive impact. Kerk also shares some of his lessons from being on thousands of coaching calls. We kick off with why Kerk wanted to write his book and how he found Self Publishing School. He also shares his experience with the writing process and what his most formidable obstacle was.

We talk about how done is better than perfect and how useful it can be to read work by other authors in your genre. We talk about how Kerk launched his book, built his list, and tackled social media. We also talk about how promotions should continue after the launch, and Kerk shares how he uses an ad manager to free up time. Then we dive into juicy insights from the coaching calls. Kerk shares great advice about not being a perfectionist and setting realistic expectations for your schedule and timetable. We talk about all kinds of ways that obstacles can be tackled through coaching and having a plan. 

Show Highlights

  • [02:02] Kerk rescued a homeless puppy from the streets. It was one of the most rewarding things that he had ever done. The rescue was too late, and the puppy passed away a week later.
  • [03:08] He was distraught and thought this should never happen, even though he knows it happens every day. Kerk decided to start a non-profit to help animals and write a book about the story of abused animals. 
  • [03:41] He Googled how to write a book and discovered Self Publishing School. He also read the first version of Chandler’s book Published. He also booked a call and the rest was history.
  • [04:31] The writing process. The toughest obstacle in writing his book was to get over perfectionism and realize the first draft is a first draft or even the ugly first draft. Done is better than perfect.
  • [06:03] Read books in your genre and see what other authors are doing.
  • [07:11] One of the things that helped him with his launch was getting his list together early. He also used Instagram and Facebook Stories. 
  • [08:27] He also used book promotion sites during his launch and really kept up with the social media posts. After the lodge, he kept up with marketing by using ads with an ad manager.
  • [09:44] Determine what time demands will be realistic for you. Don’t let unrealistic expectations bring you down. Also stay out of your head and don’t get imposter syndrome.
  • [11:03] Have realistic expectations based on your capacity and your journey. Don’t compare yourself to other people.
  • [12:11] After seven months, Kerk’s book is at 277 reviews. One thing he did was follow the non-fiction outline in the Self Publishing School course. He also has a tailored review plate in his book. His book has three sections and a bonus section with extra content.
  • [13:38] In his book, Kerk asks for his review right after his personal story when emotions are high. 
  • [14:13] If you want to know more about getting reviews, check out chapter 20 in Published
  • [15:02] He won a Book Fest 2022 award with Publisher’s Weekly. Google book awards and see what is relevant and submit your book. 
  • [16:38] All of his book proceeds go to charities. He wants to use the book as a fundraiser to help animals. 
  • [18:34] Lessons learned: The number one challenge that keeps authors from getting started is the overwhelming process that makes it seem like things are daunting and undoable.
  • [20:08] At Self Publishing School, we break everything down into digestible steps. 
  • [21:08] Challenges include authors not realizing that some of their ideas conflict, because they have ideas for multiple books. 
  • [22:25] Common traits of the most successful students are the ones who utilize the available resources.
  • [23:13] It’s also important to have a willingness to ask questions. Be curious, questioning, and coachable.
  • [24:53] Things that trip people up are not showing up to their coaching calls and losing contact with the community. Don’t go into isolation as an author.
  • [27:30] The first call is a clarity call. This helps get super clear on the direction the author is going. What is their goal for the book? What is the ideal outcome? Start with the end in mind to determine what type of book you’ll be writing.
  • [29:11] Based on your publishing goals, we work backwards and determine when your first draft needs to be completed. We also like members to commit to one group coaching call a week and make an intro post to the mastermind community.
  • [31:46] To prepare for your first call, connect to your resources and do your homework. Show up with a growth mindset.
  • [32:49] Parting advice is to take action. Everyone’s story is unique, and you need to share it.
  • [31:46] To prepare for your first call, connect to your resources and do your homework. Show up with a growth mindset.
  • [32:49] Parting advice is to take action. Everyone’s story is unique, and you need to share it. 

Links and Resources

Ebook Cover Design

Ebook Cover Design: How-Tos, Costs, and More

The first thing about your book that will catch a reader’s eye is obviously the cover! It doesn’t matter how fabulous your book is if no one ever picks it up to read it, and readers absolutely will judge a book by its cover. That means we need to put the same care and attention into our book covers as we do into the story itself.

If you’re a self-published author, the cover designs are up to you, which means you’re responsible for finding, vetting, hiring, and paying for your cover design. While designing a cover yourself is always an option, graphic design can be a tough skill to cultivate! Since your book cover is one of your most important marketing elements, it makes perfect sense to hire out for it.

Let’s look at some different options for doing your ebook cover design yourself and how to hire a designer.

Can I pay someone to design my ebook cover?

Yes, you can pay someone to design your ebook cover!

There are many companies and freelancers who offer cover design services. You can often bundle an ebook cover design with your paperback cover and hardback cover, as well as an interior format, so you have fewer people to hire. Bundling services like this is typically a cheaper option than hiring a cover designer and interior formatter separately.

If you’re only publishing an ebook, your cover design should be fairly affordable to have done, whether you design it yourself or hire out.

While good design skills take a while to cultivate, one of the easier book projects to practice on is the ebook cover. It’s much simpler to design your own ebook cover than it is to design a full wrap (with the spine and back cover), like for a paperback or hardback.

When deciding if you’ll hire out or DIY your cover, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • How much money do I want to invest in my book?
  • How much time do I want to invest?
  • Do I want to learn a new skill, even if it takes some time?
  • Is my skill set at, or close to, a level where I can accomplish what I’d like to accomplish with the cover of my ebook?

Answering those questions should give you a pretty clear idea of which avenue is best for you and your publishing goals.

When you’re looking to cut costs on book production, cover design is not one we usually recommend. The cover is one of your biggest marketing tools, so if you’re investing money anywhere, the cover design is a great choice.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever design your own covers, so we’re going to go over a few ways you can do it yourself, as well as the best practices when it comes to hiring a designer.

Ebook Cover Design

How do I make an ebook cover design?

It can take quite a lot of time to nail the skill of graphic design, but it’s not impossible! Here are some things to consider when designing your own covers.

1. Research your genre.

The genre, subgenre, tone, themes, and target demographics should all be reflected in the cover design of your book. That means you need to know what other authors in your genres are doing with their covers! It’s also important to research for each one throughout your career, as trends and expectations evolve rapidly in the publishing industry. You can give your book a leg up or a kick down with the cover design, so try to be intentional and thorough with your research and designs.

2. Focus on readable text.

Physical books meant to sell in stores have covers designed to stand out in big print on a brick-and-mortar shelf.

For ebooks, your sales will happen online. That means a lot of glimpses at your book cover will be in thumbnail size! Try to design your cover in a way that is the most readable. Avoid too many distracting designs, make sure the text is big and clear enough to be seen in a smaller image, and make it eye-catching.

Even though this article from TheBookDesigner.com was written in 2010, the examples he includes clearly illustrate this issue of going from print to ebook.

3. Learn the basics.

Look at LOTS of examples from other recent books in your genre. Learn about symmetry, scale, framing, fonts, imagery, and other basic design fundamentals before you jump in. You can check out one of our articles on the topic; or you might try a class like Wend Fessler’s “Design A Book Cover – Graphic Design Basics” or Jeremy Deighan’s “Canva : Book Cover Design” for a guided experience. If book learning is more your speed, try Book Cover Design Formula by Anita Nipane.

4. Book design software.

The software you choose to use for your cover design will affect the process, timeline, and finished product. You might invest in something a bit more high-end, but you don’t necessarily have to dump a lot of money on software, especially if this is your first book. Here are some common ones you might consider.

Photoshop

Lots of designers use Photoshop or copycat programs, like GIMP, to design their covers. This may not be the best choice for a beginner, as these options are less intuitive than some other cover design software options, but if you already have an Adobe Photoshop subscription or a knowledge of the software, you can create beautiful covers.

Cost: $33.99 per month

InDesign

Adobe InDesign is a great software purchase for indie authors, because you can use it to format the interior of your books, as well as for your covers. If you’re a do-it-yourself indie author, a program like InDesign that will allow you to handle multiple parts of the publishing process is a great investment, as well as more time-effective, as you only have to learn one program. There are tons of great Skillshare classes for Adobe InDesign, my favorite of which being Nadège Richard’s classes for formatting the interior of paperbacks and ebooks with InDesign.

Cost: $20.99 per month

BookBrush

BookBrush is a simple program for creating marketing images, as well as book covers. It’s definitely worth checking out, since most of their features are available for free. This is a good option for less experienced designers, since BookBrush provides intuitive tools and a library of solid templates to get you started.

Cost: $8.99 per month for a premium account, but you can access most of BookBrush’s features for free!

Canva

Like BookBrush, Canva offers most of their features for free, as well as many great templates. I design most of my covers with a combination of InDesign (for the most complicated bits of design) and Canva to finish it off. Canva is a strong tool for indie authors, even if you aren’t using it to design covers—go take a look at their social and marketing templates if you haven’t yet!

Cost: $12.99 per month for the premium version, but most features are free.

How much does it cost to design an ebook cover?

The price of a cover design can range from $5 (no joke) to a thousand dollars, with most being around a few hundred bucks.

The final cost of your cover depends on factors like the complication of the design, how many edits you request, the experience level and location of the designer, and the morality of the company (for example, if they’re being particularly predatory in the way they hire and pay their designers).

I paid around $150 for the ebook cover design of Little Birds, while I paid $395 for the ebook design of Starlight. I think the quality difference between the two is clear, so keep in mind that you’ll usually get what you pay for!

For other pen names in different genres, I’ve made my own covers with Canva and InDesign, obviously only paying for those subscription services.

The most cost-effective route is typically to hire the same designer for your ebook cover design, paperback cover design, interior formats, etc., in order to get a bundle discount.

The price of your ebook cover can have a very wide range, so it comes down to your personal goals and where you decide to invest your book budget. But like I said, your book cover is one of the most important marketing investments you can make, so prioritizing a cover design is never a bad idea.

How to hire an ebook cover designer

If you’ve decided to hire a cover designer, the first time will be the hardest. It’s great to put the time into researching anyone you hire before you do so. Whether that’s editors, cover designers, interior formatters, marketers, etc., you’re trusting someone with your career! It should be a partnership, so choosing the right person and making sure you keep open communication will save you a lot of time and stress later down the road.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind for hiring a designer for your ebook cover:

  1. Make sure you do your research on the designer, read through their testimonials, and see examples of their previous work. Bonus points if you can find testimonials that aren’t directly from the designer’s website. (Try searching their mentions on Twitter, for a starting place in your research.)
  2. Try to get those bundle deals to save yourself money. (That said, look out for tacking on too many of those “extras.” For example, many designers offer add-ons like audiobook covers and the Photoshop file of your design—you don’t need both! It’s easy to format the cover into a square for your audiobook cover if you’re already adding on the Photoshop file.)
  3. Be open and communicative of what you want. While being cordial is a must, your designer can’t read your mind! Practice being clear and direct with your expectations.
  4. If you arrive at a disagreement on something, be sure to hear your designer out on their opinions. After all, you hired a professional because they know more than you! That doesn’t mean rolling over for anything they think is best, but try to keep an open mind and appreciate the expertise you’ve paid for.
  5. If you’re happy with their design job, hire them again! Finding people you love to work with can be difficult in any industry, so keeping connections with people you like to work with can save yourself a lot of grief. It’s a big time investment to find someone new, and repeat customers can sometimes get a discount. That means it makes good business sense to try and find a good designer the first time.
  6. That said, if you’re unhappy with the job they did or the interaction in general, don’t be afraid to shop around for someone else on your next project. The cost-effectiveness of keeping the same designer doesn’t matter if you aren’t happy with their performance. It’s a balancing act.

Next Steps

Hopefully, that’s enough information for you to feel confident in your choice to either hire a cover designer or try it yourself! At Self-Publishing School, we offer in-house book cover design, as well as other done-for-you services. If that’s what you need, book a call with our team and let’s discuss how we can help you.

Self-publishing can feel like a big old game of trial and error, but following expert advice and the tips in this article can help you avoid a lot of the errors.

Find a system that works for you, then follow that process again and again, so you’re not reinventing the wheel with every new book you write. Now, let’s get your current book designed and published!

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Book Cover Design Checklist

Download your FREE book cover design checklist to boost the quality of your book to its very best. Hit the button to claim yours.

SPS 156: Enneagram For Authors: Using Your Enneagram Type To Write & Publish A Better Book with Ian Morgan Cron

Ian Morgan Cron is the author of The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery, a book that helps access Enneagram wisdom practically and comprehensively. This book turned out to be a runaway hit and helped cement Ian’s position in the Enneagram world. His new book, The Story of You: An Enneagram Journey to Becoming Your True Self, continues with Ian’s Enneagram knowledge and helps us understand the stories we are telling ourselves and how to rewrite the parts that aren’t serving us. 

He shares why he decided to write an Enneagram book and what worked for his first launch. Ian shares how he wasn’t expecting this book to be as successful as it turned out to be. He also breaks down the nine Enneagram personality types and some of the traits that each type has, including the positive and the negative. Then we unpack how using your type can help you write better and help you understand characters better. Ian says that understanding your style can help with self-awareness, a key predictor of success. 

Ian is the host of the Typology podcast. He’s also a master speaker and a pioneer in the contemporary Enneagram movement. He’s a teacher who offers courses on Enneagram. You can also find the highly comprehensive iEQ9 Enneagram test on Ian’s website. He is also an Episcopal priest and a trained psychotherapist. This episode is a beautiful introduction to anyone curious about the Enneagram or wants to learn more about it, especially how it applies to writers. 

Show Highlights

  • [01:34] Ian decided to write The Road Back to You after writing a novel and a memoir. He was trying to find a new topic to write about and heard someone bring up The Enneagram at a party, and a lightbulb went off.
  • [03:10] His agent advised against it, but he had a hunch that it would do really well. The book turned out to be a unicorn and did really really well.
  • [04:48] On his first launch, he went to influencers. He also got on a big podcast that really helped. He also met a guy who ran a book subscription service, and he got his book put in the box. 
  • [06:52] Sometimes you hit a gold mine with something that you never expected to work.
  • [07:14] The Enneagram is an uncannily accurate personality typing system. It teaches that there are nine basic personality styles in the world. One of which, we adopt and gravitate towards in childhood just to feel safe, cope, and protect ourselves. 
  • [07:43] Each type has an unconscious motivation that powerfully influences how that type predictably and habitually acts, thinks, and feels from moment to moment on a daily basis.
  • [08:08] It’s actionable, accessible, and fast to get.
  • [08:56] The Enneagram doesn’t just tell you what you do, it also tells you why you do it. It tells you what your unconscious unseen motivation is that drives you.
  • [09:27] Some of the other personality type tests are traits given, but they don’t tell you why you have those traits. 
  • [10:02] It’s about understanding the why behind the why and learning how to change and adapt. It also tells you what you are like when you are under stress and what you are like when you are doing well.
  • [13:04] Ian is a four, the individualist. He wants to be special and unique. Some issues these artistic types have is execution.
  • [14:34] Write something that matters, not what you think people want to hear.
  • [15:14] Knowing your type can help you be self-aware and have the knowledge to work on yourself. 
  • [18:28] Ian has a test on his website where people can find out their types. 
  • [19:58] People can share characteristic traits. It’s really our unconscious motivations that determine our type. It’s important to know all of the types, not just your own.
  • [21:04] The nine personality types accurately reflect the population. Being armed with this information is especially useful for writers. It’s incredibly helpful for character development. You can draw information. Some directors even use the Enneagram on set.
  • [22:08] There are nine different personality types on the Parks and Recreation show. It’s a great tool for understanding type and character.
  • [23:32] Type 1 the perfectionist. They get things done but have a negative inner critic. 
  • [25:44] Type 2 the helpers. Their unconscious motivation is the need to be liked. They will use giving and serving as a calculated strategy to win your approval.
  • [28:19] Type 3 the performer. Their unconscious motivation is a need to succeed and appear successful.
  • [31:27] Type 4 is the individualist. Creatives and authors.
  • [31:31] Type 5 is the investigator. They have a powerful need to collect knowledge and information to fend off ineptitude. They don’t like self-promotion and hate small talk.
  • [34:10] Type 6 the loyalist. Sharp wit. The unconscious motivation is the need to feel certain, secure, and safe. They self-doubt and self question constantly.
  • [36:31] Type 7 the enthusiasts. Joy bombs or adventure seekers. These are people who are constantly living in the future and thinking about unlimited options. Their fears are too much pain or being trapped with distressing feelings. They are notoriously distractible.
  • [38:33] Type 8 the challenger. These people can be notoriously blunt and the most assertive on the Enneagram. Their unconscious motivation is a need to assert power and control over others and the environment to mask weakness.
  • [40:16] One of the most powerful tools we have is authentic vulnerability, because vulnerability creates connection with the reader.
  • [43:03] Type 9 the peacemaker. The sweethearts who want to maintain connection with people. They’ll sometimes merge with the program or agenda of others, and they hate conflict. They have the ability to see through the eyes of all nine types.
  • [46:02] Wings are one or two numbers adjacent to your own. They season you with some of the traits and characteristics of your number.
  • [48:50] A key predictor in life is self-awareness. Know yourself and keep learning what you don’t know. Don’t presume that you already know everything. 

Links and Resources

Types of Nonfiction

13 Types of Nonfiction (for You To Consider Writing)

If you’re reading this article, chances are you are a nonfiction writer or you hope to become a nonfiction writer. First of all, congratulations! Writing nonfiction is a great way to express yourself, inform your readers, and make an impact on readers around the world. 

Just like any great endeavor, it’s crucial to be informed on what you are doing, understand the different details influencing what you are doing, and articulate the purpose behind what you’re doing. It’s one thing to say you want to write nonfiction. It’s another to know what you want to communicate and why, the type of nonfiction that will help you do so, the subgenre it belongs in, and whether you should consider taking the literary nonfiction route. 

That said, in this article we discuss:

There are many subgenres of nonfiction, and we will discuss them in this article. However, just as there are many subgenres of nonfiction, there are varying reasons to write nonfiction. Before we dive into types of nonfiction, let’s discuss its purpose.

What is the purpose of nonfiction?

While the purpose of nonfiction is largely dependent on the individual author, simply based on the style of writing, nonfiction is written to inform. Information can be written with the core purpose of informing, or it can be written with the core purpose of expressing. Either way, nonfiction informs readers.

If you are a thought leader in a particular field, you may hope to inform your readers by writing nonfiction. However, if you are a lay person and want to express your experience surrounding a particular topic, your core purpose may be to express (you will also inform your readers through your expression).

Sometimes the best way to inform readers is via self-expression.

If you wonder which is best for you, simply keep reading. We discuss types of creative nonfiction as well as nonfiction genres below.

Types of creative nonfiction

There are many types of creative nonfiction, but some include essays, memoir, autobiography, travel writing, and food writing. 

Essays

Personal essays are a great way to express yourself and communicate while using your authentic voice. Think of an essay as a condensed autobiography, focused on a specific aspect, moment, or theme of your life. Your personal essay will cover the moment you feel compelled to write about, and that moment will be the central focus. When writing a personal essay, be sure to:

  • Allow your voice to shine through.
  • Be sure that what you write is all fact and not fiction.
  • Use creative writing techniques to make your writing compelling.

Essays are a great type of creative nonfiction to start your nonfiction journey. 

Memoir

If you choose to write your memoir, it’s likely because you want to use your life experiences to speak to a larger theme. While an autobiography follows the individual’s life from birth to present, a memoir focuses on different life experiences that help inform the reader. 

Autobiography

As briefly mentioned above, an autobiography focuses on the individual’s story from birth to present and is written with the intention of sharing your life story. If you choose to write your autobiography, you are likely a public figure such as a sports figure, a politician, a famous writer, or well-known in another capacity. Because of this, readers will be interested in hearing details of your life and how your experiences informed the person you are today.  

Travel Writing

If you travel a lot for work, or perhaps you are a freelance writer and travel simply because you can, travel writing may be the genre for you. Think of travel writing as a way to collect your interactions with the people you meet and the experiences you gain. This collection becomes a means to share experiences in a thought-out way. Travel writing is a great way to inform through creative means. 

Travel writing is also a great way to employ the power of the senses. Because you have been to the places you write about, you can describe your experience in ways unique to your genre. You can explain the gritty feel of the sand on a particular beach, the tangy smell in the air as you walk through a market, or what it looked like to see the sunrise in person over that particular mountain. You can describe the feeling of sitting down with a cup of espresso on a busy street and striking up a conversation with a stranger. Travel writing can bring a different level of detail, and therefore realism, to your writing. 

Food Writing

Food writing focuses on, surprise, the topic of food, and draws in many different types of writing. As you begin food writing, you may want to consider the aspects that affect food. Culture, geography, lifestyle, friendship, and agriculture are all influential factors. You could focus on the role lifestyle plays in the food we eat, how food can play a large part in a country’s culture, or inform readers on the importance agriculture plays. While food is the central topic, there are countless subtopics you can write about to support it.

Types of nonfiction genres

Just as there are many genres of writing, there are many genres of nonfiction writing. Some of the more common genres include: History, self-help, guides and how-to manuals, and philosophy. 

History

History is an important nonfiction genre as it helps generations remember the factual accounts of what happened before. While historical fiction is a fiction genre, to be considered historical nonfiction, the facts must be accurately portrayed. While history can be recorded as simply facts, such as in a textbook, it can also be recorded through the writer’s point of view. While points of view differ according to person, when writing historical nonfiction, the facts must be the central focus.

Self-help

Self-help is a largely influential nonfiction genre. Topics in self-help cover a variety of subjects, from business, to relationships, to habits, to finances, to exercise. This genre is informative but not academically focused.

Guides and how-to manuals

As a writer, if you have played the violin for twenty years, trained under some of the best violinist in the world, and performed as a guest with symphonies around the country, writing a guide on the craft of music with a focus on the violin, would be a great place for you to start. As they say, write what you know! Chandler Bolt’s book, Published: The Proven Path from Blank Page to 10,000 Copies Sold is largely a “how to” book.

Philosophy 

Philosophy is similar to academic text but it focuses in varying areas. One is traditional philosophy, which you would find in a university’s classroom. A second type of philosophy is scientific theory, such as the work of Sir Isaac Newton. If you are a writer pursuing philosophy writing, you may choose to focus on more current philosophy, such as analyzing specific occurrences in the world today. 

Types of literary nonfiction

Different forms of literary nonfiction can be used to accomplish different goals. If your goal as a writer is to share a specific experience from your life, you will choose a different literary nonfiction form than someone hoping to inform readers on historical events.

Below is a brief list of literary nonfiction forms:

Personal Essay

A personal essay is creative writing and also falls under the literary nonfiction category. Simply by definition, a personal essay is written from your point of view. This allows you to use your own experiences, employ creative writing techniques, and express and/or inform your readers on a particular topic. 

Lyrical Memoir

Lyrical memoir uses prose in a poetic way. Just as a memoir communicates a specific theme, lyrical memoir uses creative writing techniques to add power to the author’s voice, all while communicating a larger theme. An example of lyrical memoir is I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou. In her book, Angelou shares her own life experiences while pointing to a larger theme. 

Narrative Journalism

In narrative journalism, stories cover factual events as a journalist would, but add in narrative that creates a more engaging read. While journalists may recount specific events and take a more factual approach, narrative journalism covers similar events, but adds a twist of creative writing. Adding this type of narrative does not subtract from the facts recounted, but creates a more engaging story for readers. An example of narrative journalism is Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer and The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, by David Grann. 

Narrative History

Narrative history is a subgenre that focuses on historically accurate events, told through a story-based lens, and therefore employs different facets of creative writing. When writing narrative history it is crucial to recount the facts. In historical fiction, the author can switch details up, add a twist, create scenes and characters that did not exist, but in narrative story, every detail must be accurate. The difference between a history textbook and a narrative history book is that the narrative history is told in a story form. An example of narrative history is 12 Years a Slave: A Slave Narrative, by Solomon Northup.

Next Steps

Remember, just as writing fiction involves time spent learning the writing craft and following writing rules, writing nonfiction involves the same. The difference between fiction and nonfiction is that nonfiction is always based in fact. Nonfiction is by nature a real story. Whether you write nonfiction to inform your readers, or from my desire to express an experience you had, nonfiction needs to be factually correct.

As you begin this endeavor, set aside any perfectionism and simply get the words down. While nonfiction can be a difficult genre to tackle, writing is by nature a process that involves edits. Keep track of your research and drafts, employ creative writing techniques, fact-check after you have the first draft written, and enjoy the process.

When writing nonfiction, you not only get to express yourself, but you get to inform your audience on a topic that is important to you.

Now you understand creative nonfiction, the different types of nonfiction genres, as well as types of literary nonfiction.

Now it’s time to choose the type of genre that is best for your story.

After you take this assessment, sit in the quiet and ask yourself what exactly you want to write and why you want to write it. Then, get to work writing!

You’ve got this!

cary jack interview with self publishing school

SPS 155: The Happy Hustler’s Guide To Writing And Marketing A Book Without Burning Out with Cary Jack

Cary Jack is a lifestyle entrepreneur, professional actor/model, biohacker, and eco-warrior striving to impact this planet positively. He’s the host of The Happy Hustle Podcast, which aims to educate, inspire, and entertain. He interviews guests from entrepreneurs to spiritual masters to help listeners transform their dreams into reality. He’s also the author of The Happy Hustle 10 Alignments to Avoid Burnout & Achieve Blissful Balance

His book is based on a 10-part framework to help achieve alignment and balance in life. We learn what the framework is and walk through the sections with a little quiz that can help us score where we may need to work on. We walk through these ten categories: selfless service, optimized health, unplugged digitally, loving relationships, mindful spirituality, abundance financially, personal development, passionate hobbies, impactful work, and a connection with nature. 

Cary also tells us about when he was a burned-out entrepreneur and how he moved to Bangkok and developed the framework. We dive into how he wrote the book and its structure. Cary talks about finding the right platform to reach your target market. We learn how creating an asset with your book can be beneficial, and he breaks down free plus shipping and his funnel process. This episode has powerful advice for marketing, entrepreneurship, and living a fulfilling and balanced life. 

Show Highlights

  • [01:25] Cary was a burned-out tech entrepreneur in New York City. There’s definitely an entrepreneurial burnout epidemic going on.
  • [02:11] He ended up moving to Bangkok and breaking his life down into the 10 alignments. He started looking at his life holistically and putting the happiness into his everyday hustle.
  • [03:21] He first began writing without structure and then went back and rewrote the entire book. Now there’s a system, a through line, and calls to action. He started with a course and then turned it into a book.
  • [04:10] Look at your target market and find the best medium to reach them.
  • [05:01] Cary created his soul-mapping framework with 10 alignments. His 10-day video course became 10 chapters in a book.
  • [07:23] We go through 10 questions to figure out where we are when it comes to balance and alignment.
  • [07:35] Selfless service. Optimized health. Unplugged digitally. Loving relationships. Mindful spirituality. Abundance financially. Personal development. Passionate hobbies. Impactful work. Nature connection.
  • [11:28] Balance is a never-ending Journey. Cary does the same assessment every Sunday. 
  • [12:21] Create an asset that goes with your books framework.
  • [13:01] Cary decided to control the flow and funnel in his book to help promote his other products and programs. 
  • [13:23] Free plus shipping is where the book is free, but the receiver pays for shipping. He also had a one-time offer of an audiobook with an extra copy and three master classes. The next step in his funnel is his actual course.
  • [14:22] He’s also testing the Happy Hustle Club which is a membership model and an offer for a one-on-one phone call with him.
  • [15:01] The last step in the funnel is his thank you page that includes a link to his wilderness camp.
  • [15:41] Check out page 181 in for the free plus shipping model.
  • [16:20] His funnel is profitable because of all of the other upsells. You need high ticket offers on the backend to make the free plus shipping model profitable.
  • [18:35] Cary was also a partner in a biohacking company where his business partner wrote a book. They used free plus shipping and several funnel models to promote using the book.
  • [20:09] He had his podcast before the book was published. A podcast builds know, like and trust in a scalable fashion.
  • [21:48] Have a structured framework when you write your book. You need a system and a mentor.

Links and Resources

how to stop overwriting

How to Stop Overwriting (And Why It Matters)

Generally speaking, there are two types of writers: overwriters and underwriters.

If you’re an underwriter (not the insurance type), you’ve probably had editors, beta readers, and professors tell you that you need to flesh out your characters, add some padding to your transitions, and add some description and dimension to your scenes. 

But maybe you’ve heard the opposite—that you’re an overwriter, and your work is overwritten. What does that mean? How do you fix that? And how do you avoid overwriting in the future? 

In this article, we’re here to talk about: 

  1. What is overwriting? 
  2. What does it mean if a book is overwritten? 
  3. Why is overwriting bad? 
  4. Examples of overwriting 
  5. How to stop overwriting 

Go From Overwriter to Clear, Compelling Author With The Ultimate Blueprint —Created by a Fiction Bestselling Author  Struggling with overwriting? In this mini-course designed by best-selling  fiction author and book coach, get clear on your story, premise, and learn what  parts of story are essential (and what's not) in this 24-Hour Fiction Challenge.  YES! SIGN ME UP!

What is overwriting?

Simply put, overwriting is when a piece of writing has too much going on. This might mean that there are too many plot threads, which make the story confusing to follow, or there might be a bunch of scenes that don’t contribute to the main plot. This might also mean that the prose itself is too wordy or overly descriptive. 

Overwriting vs purple prose 

You may have also heard the term ‘purple prose,’ and if you have, this might all be sounding familiar. What’s the difference between overwriting and purple prose? 

Purple prose is when an author uses excessive or over-the-top language which pulls the reader out of the book. In other words, it draws attention to itself instead of drawing attention to the details it means to describe. Purple prose doesn’t necessarily have to be wordy, but it often is. 

For example: “Her emerald eyes glistened with effervescent tears which trembled along her translucent cheek.” 

The adjectives used here are over the top in a way that makes us more focused on the bad writing than the action at hand. Another indicator for purple prose is meaningless phrases—what does ‘effervescent tears’ mean, anyway? 

Purple prose is usually a form of overwriting. The writer is doing too much and needs to reign it in. Not all overwriting is, necessarily, purple prose, but most purple prose is overwriting. 

What does it mean if a book is overwritten?

Here are a few signs that a book might be overwritten: 

There are superfluous scenes or characters 

Everything in your book should point toward the plot, themes, and goals of the main character. This doesn’t mean there won’t be breaks or asides, but it does mean that you shouldn’t have scenes that don’t matter. 

Scenes should always do something to change the status quo. In an overwritten book, you might find a lot of scenes that change nothing. You could delete the entire scene, and very little or nothing at all would change for the story as a whole. 

Overwritten books also might include redundant characters. How do you know if a character is redundant? It’s the same trick we used with scenes. If you could delete the character and it would have no major impact on the story, the character is probably redundant.

The prose itself is too wordy or forced 

Overwriting can also show itself in prose. If sentences seem like they go on forever, or if descriptions often feel forced and excessive, you’ve probably got overwriting on your hands. This might come in the form of purple prose, but it might also come in the form of too much. The descriptions might be written nicely, but having way too many of them is still overwriting. 

Overwritten passages often don’t know what to focus on when it comes time to describe something, so they describe everything, all the time, ad nauseum. And while there’s a certain amount of leniency given when it comes to style—some authors write more length descriptions than others—an overwritten passage will feel unfocused and boring. 

It’s difficult to get through 

Have you ever found yourself unable to finish a book because you just didn’t feel like you could get through it? No matter how hard you tried to focus, it felt like a slog—-the plot wasn’t going anywhere, the descriptions were nice but there were so many of them, and you just couldn’t pay attention the whole way through? 

This is a sign that a book is overwritten. 

It’s worth noting, again, that some of this chalks up to personal preference. Some people hail Lord of the Rings as the best book ever written, while others just didn’t like how long and descriptive it was. Fantasy, in particular, tends to trend on the more descriptive side in the name of worldbuilding.

Some readers will love it, and others won’t. But if readers within your genre are telling you it’s too much, you should listen to them. 

Why is overwriting bad?

If overwriting can be chalked up to style, then why worry about it? 

Overwriting hides your story 

Remember what I said earlier about the sludge? Overwriting obscures your story, your plot, and your characters. It takes the reader out of what’s going on and forces them to sift through a ton of content (which ultimately doesn’t have any bearing on the story) to get to what you’re trying to say. 

In other words, overwriting will waste a reader’s time. 

Your meaning gets obscured line-to-line 

If your overwriting tends to show itself more in the prose itself, rather than in excessive plot points, you’ll face the same issue. It’s difficult to sort out what an author means when the sentences are too long and too difficult to follow. If this problem continues throughout the book, it means the reader will have a hard time knowing what the book is about, what’s going on, and why they should care. 

Examples of overwriting

I’ve written a few examples here to show you what overwriting might look like in the flesh: 

Example 1 (Too Much Description): 

“He knew what he had to do. The divorce papers on the kitchen table waited for his signature. The air still smelled like lasagna, which his wife had made for dinner. There was just a hint too much oregano, but overall, it smelled good. He’d enjoyed it, and they’d put the leftovers in the fridge to eat throughout the week. It was always a hassle to go down the hall at his office and use the microwave, but he didn’t really mind. Besides, it was a great chance to catch up with his coworkers, who he liked. He carefully stepped across the kitchen in his shoes, which were his least favorite running shoes—he bought them at Target and they always wore out after a few months, but he liked the way they looked.” 

The issue here is that the description takes us away from the scene to exposit about this man’s life. We have to slog through it to get what we want, which is to find out whether he signs the papers. 

Example 2 (Tired, Flowery Description, aka Purple Prose) 

“He knew what he had to do. Destined, perhaps, by fate, architectured by a cruel god of love with an evil streak of vengeance lurking in its heart. The divorce papers loomed surreptitiously on the deep mahogany table. The auburn streaks in the mahogany gleamed ceremoniously in the gorgeous sunset. His every faltering step shuddered on the rug as he cautiously approached.” 

Here, we have a lot of descriptions riddled with cliche, as well as some meaningless descriptions (‘surreptitiously’ doesn’t even make sense here). Instead of wondering what’s going on with the divorce papers, we’re wondering what’s going on with the adjectives and adverbs in this piece. 

How to stop overwriting

Outline your novel and scenes 

Overwriting might stem from not knowing where your story is going, especially if you tend to have lots of dropped plot threads or redundant characters. A great way to prevent this? Outline! Having an idea of where you’re going will make it much easier to steer there. 

It can also help to outline each scene, especially in revisions, to make sure the scene is essential. What’s the goal of the scene? How is the status quo changed? How are the stakes raised? Again, this will help you know what to spend your time on while you’re writing. 

Condense minor characters and subplots 

If you have a ton of subplots and a cast of thirty characters, you might find it helpful to condense them. 

If you have a character, for example, who really only does one or two things, and another character who only does one thing, make them one character. Now that character has a ton of responsibility, and they’re vital to the story! Hurray! 

If you have a ton of subplots, cut any of them that get dropped or which don’t resolve (or make them essential in revisions). You can condense these, too—maybe instead of having a scene where two characters flirt with each other and a separate scene where they rob a bank, maybe they rob a bank and flirt with each other the whole time. Combining the romance subplot and the robbing-a-bank plot will make both of them more interesting, and it’ll cut your word count. 

Side note: exposition is a common overwriting pitfall for specifically fantasy authors, and this hack works wonders for exposition. Instead of having someone stop the plot dead to explain a piece of worldbuilding, incorporate that worldbuilding into a conversation with real stakes—or else, find a way to make the exposition interesting, so the reader isn’t bored. 

Describe what matters 

Lengthy descriptions can be lovely, but they need to be intentional. Pay attention to what you describe, and have a good reason for describing it. If we get a super detailed description of everything in the story, nothing’s going to stick out to the reader. 

Take, for example, this scene from Shrek: Shrek and Donkey walk into the dragon’s lair. We see a lingering shot of the chandelier positioned just over the dragon’s head, which helps us remember the chandelier when later, it’s used to capture the dragon. 

If this scene were written down and every single thing in the room were given the same weight, we wouldn’t remember the chandelier. Later, when the chandelier is used to capture the dragon, we wouldn’t feel satisfied—we would feel like it was random. 

Overwrite all you want… for your first draft 

Last but not least—if you find that you’re getting stuck on your first draft because you’re worried about overwriting, I’m giving you permission to release that fear and write your first draft as lengthy and excessively as you need. 

It is important to improve, and you will, when it comes time to revise. But for your first draft, set aside your concerns and write the story all the way through, however it comes out, with your primary focus being finishing the darn thing. Getting too hung up on making sure you’re perfectly resolving every plot thread and making every character essential will make a draft more frustrating than exciting. 

Remember: fixing overwriting is ultimately just trimming what you already have. If you have a whole lot when you’ve finished your first draft, that’s okay! Just be prepared to do some chopping. 

Go From Overwriter to Clear, Compelling Author With The Ultimate Blueprint —Created by a Fiction Bestselling Author  Struggling with overwriting? In this mini-course designed by best-selling  fiction author and book coach, get clear on your story, premise, and learn what  parts of story are essential (and what's not) in this 24-Hour Fiction Challenge.  YES! SIGN ME UP!