I’m going to share my secret sauce.
It’s the fairy dust, the magic, that special juju that makes it simple and straightforward for me to tease out the message from my clients and put it on the page.
And the best part is, it works for anything. Any writing anyway.
If you can answer these 5 simple questions, you’re good to go. In fact, I’ve structured whole books for my clients based on this simple formula. Whole books! Something must be working, huh?
Before we get started… a disclaimer (of sorts)
Now, most of the women I work with are trying to tell their own stories when they write. So I should state up front that I’m talking about mainly non-fiction, mainly autobiographical or business-focused books here.
Yoga teachers with a personal story behind coming to their practice. Health coaches with a story of struggle, dis-ease, and a breakthrough to health. Business experts sharing their secret success sauce with the world. Anyone with a message.
But please be mindful I’m not a structural or developmental editor.
As a content and copyeditor, my special superpower is a wicked way with words. Not a wicked way with format. Because, you know, that lacks alliteration apart from anything else.
I don’t believe in templates or tried-and-tested-must-do-it-my-ways.
Yet these guidelines should give you a loose beginning-middle-end kinda thing. If you want to learn more about structuring your non-fiction book, there are more excellent resources out there.
Knowing where to start
What I find most people are thinking when they want to write an ebook is something along these lines:
“Help! I haven’t got a clue where to start.”
I don’t know anything about writing ebooks.”
“I just know I want to write one. Where do I start?”
Well, actually, this is a great start. Knowing you want to write one is crucial! Knowing why you want to write one is even better.
Step #1 – Ask yourself: why am I writing this?
This usually elicits The Beginning of your book. There’s usually some background story in there for setting the scene.
Beginning with the reasons for your book can also help you connect with your audience and find your people. All good projects, companies, people Start With Why as Simon Sinek identifies.
Write what will grip and engage your audience from page one. Unleash! Attention-grab! Do anything to reel them in with your story. It might be an emotional ride, but you can always cut things out in editing.
Write raw. Then edit.
Step #2 – Answer: what is the turning point or key message?
This forms The Middle and bulkiest bit of book. You may have several lessons. You may have many twists in the tale. Many of these can form chapters in their own right and build to the eventual…
Step #3 – Check in: how does this relate to where I am now?
And so for The End, the inspirational end, where everyone lives happily ever after. Or whatever alternate reality you want to construe. Reiterate the important learning and how it applies to your story. Contrast your present and ongoing work with where you were in the ‘before’ shot.
You have a basic bare-bones book plan, with a beginning, middle and end. A why, a how, and a where you are now.
Of course there are many more considerations, but it’s a great start for any writing piece. And it really does work for any writing piece.
Why? Well, it’s well-known that every book has a beginning, middle and end, but so too does every text.
Not only the full book either, but each chapter therein has a beginning-middle-end structure. Each paragraph within that has the same structure. Each sentence within that, the same. Until you’re right down at word level.Even each word has a beginning, middle and end, but hey, that’s language for you, complex as ever.
The words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters can come later. Right now, there are two more questions you need to answer before I suggest you’re ready to roll.
Step #4 – Define: who am I writing for?
Step #5 – Clarify: how do I want my reader to feel?
Okay, no closing your browser now. Back to Step 1 this instant. Go! Do it now!
You might resist. (I’m not much of a planner myself. I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda girl. If I can do it, you can too.) This is easy-peasy planning. It’s all up there in that powerhouse of a brain of yours.
You just have to get it out.
Tired of trying to start your book and getting nowhere? Take the first step today!