How are oceans formed?
Why is there hair inside noses?
What causes ice storms?
I found the answers to these questions and more when I researched and wrote several series of non-fiction books for Bridgestone Books from Capstone Press.
Much like when students get assignments from their teachers, I got assignments from an editor. We need a series of books on the Great Lakes, she would say. Or... Can you write about natural disasters? Then she would tell me what questions I needed to answer and how long each chapter should be. I did the research, again, much like when students write school reports, and wrote the books.
I learned a lot about the writing process when I wrote these books. For instance, the Fire Engines book could have only 50 words in each chapter. One of the chapters was The History of Fire Engines. Though the chapter was short, I still had to research the entire history of fire engines. Then I had to decide which elements were most important and write and rewrite until I could whittle my chapter down to only 50 words.
This is a great writing exercise to try yourself. Pick a topic you know a lot about, or use a paper you've written in school. See if you can whittle your subject down to 50 words or less.
Once you do this a few times, you'll find that when you are writing other things, you will chose your words more carefully. You'll be more aware of excess baggage in your writing and you'll write with greater clarity no matter the scope of your project.
Look for these Bridgestone Books titles at your local library:
Disasters: Avalanches, Droughts, Ice Storms, Landslides
Great Lakes: Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, Lake Ontario, Lake Superior
Oceans: The Antarctic Ocean, The Arctic Ocean, The Atlantic Ocean, The Indian Ocean, The Pacific Ocean
Parts of Your Body: Your Lungs, Your Muscles, Your Stomach
Rescue Vehicles: Ambulances, Fire Engines (both under Anne Hanson)