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Many of the most memorable movies are based on facts such as Schindler’s List, Raging Bull, Apollo 13, The Pianist, Mask (with Eric Stolz and Cher), Mississippi Burning, Silkwood, Catch me if You Can, Erin Brockovich, A Civil Case, Blow, Ali, The Aviator, Beyond the Sea, Ray, Kinsey, Passion of the Christ, even The Terminal with Tom Hanks was based on some true events.  Ideas for such stories can be as simple as a newspaper blurb, someone you admire, or historical events.  Ideas can also come from everyday issues, such as parenting, politics or community events.

The majority of books listed below are considered some of the best nonfiction ever written. Notice the title of each book and you’ll see the wide range of subject matter.

Up From Slavery, Booker T. Washington

Seabiscuit, Laura Hillenbrand

A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein

The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. Du Bois

The Age of Jackson, Arthur Meier Schlesinger, Jr.

A River Runs Through It, Norman Maclean

Understanding Poetry, Cleanth Brooks

Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell

The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Mark Twain

Samuel Johnson, Walter Jackson Bate

The Right Stuff, Tom Wolfe

Working, Studs Terkel

Children of Crisis, Robert Coles

Friday Night Lights, H. G. Bissinger

Out of Africa, Isak Dinesen

Why We Can’t Wait, Martin Luther King, Jr.

This Boy’s Life, Tobias Wolff

In Cold Blood, Truman Capote

Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life, Richard Ben Cramer

Gulag: A History, Anne Applebaum (2003 Pulitzer Prize winner)

Religion and the Rise of Western Culture, Christopher Dawson

The Habit of Being, Flannery O’Connor

Will in The World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare, Stephen Greenblatt

Black Hawk Down, Mark Bowden

The above examples were to show you the range of nonfiction. As a new writer to the genre, start by writing about what you like, what you do, what you’re about to do, what you wish you could be doing, that weekend project you just completed, things you’ve seen, felt, experienced, place you’ve eaten, and so forth.  If you know how to do something, write about it! Anytime you make a decision, purchase something, or hear about something it becomes an article idea. Did you just spend 11 hours talking to tech support about how to fix your computer? Write an article about the computer problem and how it was fixed. Were you pleased with the outcome? Write an article reviewing the different computer tech support companies and the pros and cons of each. Are things always breaking down in your apartment? Write an article about do-it-yourself quick fixes for the renter.