Outline Your Non Fiction Book In A Day
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- How to choose the book to outline
- How to craft a brilliant book outline
- Have a rough idea of a non fiction book that you want to write
Have you ever found yourself writing a book and running out of steam?
That's probably because you didn't outline it first.
Did you know there is a secret formula to writing a non-fiction book? Once you know the formula, you will be able to write a book much faster than you could have dreamed possible. - It’s called writing an outline.
Some writers look upon outlines with disdain. But when properly understood and correctly used, the outline is one of the most powerful tools for a writer.
Your book outline is the structure of your book, and is vital. If you start writing without a good outline, the process could take forever and your book will not flow.
Worse, having no outline often leads to not finishing your book at all.
Good books don’t just happen; they are designed, or should I say, outlined.
Outlining chapters give us a clear structure, a pathway from one chapter to the next, and provides direction, helps to connect each chapter to the overall theme and helps to answer questions that our reader may have. Most importantly, it makes your book easier and faster to write.
In this course we are going on a journey that will see you being able to piece together your outline one chunk at a time.
By the end of the course you will be ready to write your book.
The outline gets you started in the right direction. You may discover new research, stories, and new ideas as you go along. You can change your outline at any time and improve your book. Your outline is a living, breathing document to help guide you to writing and finish your book.
When you have an outline, you will never wonder what to write. You will write faster and you won’t get writer’s block.
This book outline course is just designed for non-fiction books only.
Start now and by the end of the day you will have your book outlined and you will be ready to write.
- Anyone who wants to write a non fiction book
Welcome to outline your book
I am delighted to welcome you. I adore seeing people finding their voices and sharing their wisdom in a book.
On this course you will be taken through simple steps where you will create a brilliant outline for your book and be ready to write.
This course helps you to clarify your ideas and process for your book.
This course will take you step by step through a proven process which will see you outlining your non-fiction book.
However, you choose to use this course, please have fun and ask questions.
Meet Dale your course facilitator
Dale is a writer, coach and author. She inspires and motivates coaches, trainers, consultants and speakers to write the right book, build their personal brand and create a business that they love.
She is also a healer and word alchemist working with her clients to enable them to connect to their heart through writing and journaling.
Her passion is for personal story and enabling others to expand and transform through writing and journaling.
I am delighted to be your course facilitator and to be a part of your writers journey. I'm a writer like you and have designed this course to help you to discover the right book outline before you start to write your book.
Thank you for taking the time to take this course and I look forward to working with you.
Getting connected to writing your non-fiction book
One of the best ways to get connected to writing your book is to try this fun and very simple exercise.
Try to not think too much, just write.
You know that you have a book inside of you, it is just waiting to be unleashed.
Imagine how it would feel to know what your next book is – just like that.
Grab yourself a piece of A4 paper and a pen and let’s go!
There are four steps to this
What is your books what?
Imagine that you’ve decided to write a book and you are feeling all shy and not sure what to tell anyone about it, when out of left field a friend discovers that you are about to pen something. The conversation might go something like this...
‘So, what’s this I hear, you are writing a book?’
‘What’s it called?’
You clear your throat and declare boldly It’s called 'Fill in the blanks.’ You are thinking on your feet, the name wasn’t clear but this friend caught you off guard and you had no option. First thing that came into your head was this title.
‘And, what’s it about then?’
Why all the questions, you wonder, it’s none of their business. Actually, you have no idea, time to blag it. You take a deep breath and go for it.
What is your book about?
Pick up your pen and let the conversation continue. What started off as a germ of an idea has now surfaced into something more meaningful.
This is often how books emerge, through random thoughts and conversations. Later when you have time to reflect, the rest of your book idea will emerge.
Getting connected to writing your non-fiction book – why are you writing it?
There are many reasons to write a book. It’s important that before you start you know why YOU want to write it (see the last point that says you just may want to…). If you do not have a compelling enough reason, chances are this book will not get written.
Five reasons why you want to write your book
Build your personal brand
Being seen as an expert
Family and friends
To remember someone or an event
Leave behind your brilliance
To support others
You just want to
There is nothing wrong with wanting to write a book because you want to and you may find another reason emerging as you do.
Who is your ideal reader?
Who do you think want's to read your book? Start off with a matchstick person and brainstorm who this person might be.
Your ideal reader wants to feel why you are writing your book
Your ideal reader will want to know what the book is about, of course, they do. More than that they want to have a feeling that it has been written for them. We get emotionally connected to books and the message behind them.
Consider the last book that you bought, why was that?
Did you have to buy it for a specific reason?
Did someone recommend it as a great book?
Was there something in particular you needed?
Was it about acquiring new knowledge that would help you?
Getting connected to your book – craft the book blurb
You do this step after a nights sleep. Put your book under your pillow and sleep on it. When you wake up in the morning, grab your 'book' and pen and just write. When you have done this, take it out with you and share your book with others. This will create accountability and help you to make more sense of your book.
Writing the back blurb – your book’s description has to be one of the hardest things for an author to do. You have to put your sales head on. Not only that you have to condense a whole book into a few paragraphs – yikes!!!
The book blurb is about arousing curiosity, rather than providing answers. Although it should create a sense that you know the answers to their thorny questions. You are looking to draw your reader to “Look Inside”, browse through the first few pages, be inspired and make a purchase.
Imagine if you had 45 seconds to sell your book, what would be in those vital seconds?
What are the benefits?
How will your book fulfil its promises?
Is this the first of its kind?
The end result
It's always to good to see what you are aiming for. These documents are books in differing stages.
One - is completed and published. It was created from coaching and workshop content and was easy to outline as it is a simple process
Two - was created from an existing course with similar content, once it was outlined and the first draft written I went back to the outlining process and rejigged it
Three - was created from an old course workbook. The course was rewritten and transcripts made. I used these to create a new journaling book. Which at the time of writing this course was in the early stages of creation.
These books are demonstrated in Microsoft WORD, you may be using a different word processing system. The software may be different but the theory is similar. In WORD I have turned on the navigation (view - navigation) pane so that you can see the outline coming alive and I am using style sheets so that I can easily created an outline.
How do I pinpoint who my ONE reader is?
Think about how well you know the ideal reader for your book. People buy books because of some sort of outcome, solution or result that it gives them. In this topic, you explore what makes an ideal reader for you and how to find yours.
We will be covering: -
What does my ideal want to know?
What results do they get?
When you are writing you are writing for one person. Who is this person?
What questions does your book answer?
The questions that your book answers, or the problems that it solves, is the next piece of the jigsaw. Think outside of who you currently consider your ideal reader to be. Who asks you what questions? Who are they and what will they get from reading your book?
Brainstorm the questions your reader may ask you
Start by asking 30 (or more) questions. Write these on post it notes or index cards. Remember these are questions that your reader is asking not what you think they are asking. Hang around groups and forums and check out what is being asked.
Leave and reflect.
Extra to think about
Problem and results
Look at what potential problems your readers may have and ask, what results do they get as a consequence of reading and using your content? List out all the problems and what you believe the benefits will be for your readers. For example, a book on nutrition and sleep.
Problem: My sleep is disturbed
Results: By understanding which foods help you to produce the right chemicals in your brain, you can change your diet and learn to sleep well
Look at each of the problems and ask yourself, if this were my problem: -
How do I feel?
Why do I feel this way?
What are the facts?
What do I know to be true?
What don’t I know?
What do I have?
What don’t I have?
What other forces are influencing this problem?
What if I could solve it?
How might I solve it?
Do this for as many problems you think your book will help your reader solve. Once you have worked out what each of the problems are, and how they will be resolved, you will be able to map them to chapters.
ACTION: Brainstorm as many questions as you can
Step it out
Use this exercise to tease out your outline
This is a walking, using your intuition and making sense process, which will really help cement your chapter outlines.
Have your mobile phone or recording device handy. Ask questions about each chapter as you walk up and down. I find writing this down on a A3 sheet and laying it on the floor very helpful.
What is this chapter about?
Why is it important for my reader to know this?
How can they do the same, or what exercises can I share?
What if – what are the benefits of following the advice in this chapter, or the consequences of not ?
Thinking points - what do I want my reader to think about?
This is a valuable exercise for getting to the heart of your book outline.
Print out the book outline so that you have the questions to hand or scribble a big one like the image above.
Discovering your book outline
Turn on your voice recorder, make sure you have enough space to record
Using one sheet of paper per chapter, start laying the A4 sheets out on the floor
Either lay them in a straight line or in a circle
As you step onto each sheet, pause to reflect, close your eyes and go inside and to get a feeling, sense or image of what the chapter might be about
Using the voice recorder talk out loud and ask your what, why, how and what if questions
As you step onto the next chapter, consider if and how they logically flow into each other. Can you feel the connection? Make a note of any connecting words or ideas.
When you get to the end, look back and review the flow of your chapters. What else comes to mind?
Walk around looking at them, getting a bird’s eye view, what other words or ideas come to you?
Fully engage your senses and, as you step from sheet to sheet, think about what the chapter is about and try to get a feel for it. If you find it difficult to feel then use another way (seeing, hearing, thinking) to make sense of each chapter
CAUTION: If you are writing an emotionally sensitive book, do not stand on the chapter sheets; observe them by walking alongside. You want to be dissociated from the content.
At the end
Listen to your recording, make notes and get ready for your brainstorming wall. If you are unable or do not want to do the brainstorming wall go straight to mind-mapping.
Remember you can adapt these exercises to suit you.
Making sense of step it out
Use this exercise to make sense of your outline after ‘step it out.’
Mind mapping is a great way to make sense of your step it out exercise or to create an outline from scratch. I use iMindMap, however; there are lots of products on the market, and you could use paper (a roll of brown wrapping paper is brilliant for this) and coloured pens. My preference is to do this by hand.
Search for Open Source mind mapping and you will be able to find a free tool.
E.g. Freemind (I take no responsibility for anyone downloading free tools)
You can also...
With iMindmap you can also add in links to other content and put icons on it to represent things. It is more than just a tool to map out your outline. You can trial it for 30 days.
Map the customer journey
Do a map of which content in which order. You have the questions, so start there. Just make sure that it makes sense in some way.
The journey takes your reader from not knowing to a good outcome. you could offer:-
21 days to something
A process - coaching
Prompts around a theme
Map it out:
Roll of paper/A3/Wall
Map it all out all
Play and have fun
Action: Create a customer journey map based on your questions, if relevant. Otherwise map the journey in a way that is right for this book.
Note: Some people like to use post it notes, paper and coloured pens, some like technology, so may use a mind-mapping tool, a WORD doc, a Trello board etc. You must use what works for you.
How to clarify each chapter
By now you have your customer map and rough outline.
Next, we want to expand on that with content ideas, chapter titles, questions, key messages, and call to actions. All of which you can add into your rough synopsis.
Open up your document. Save this file as another file name (one for each chapter) and use this to start work on your first chapter.
For two/three chapters only create the outline for these chapters
Add in your subheadings
You may only want to open up a file and dump your headings and subheadings. Do what works for you.
Trello is a collaboration tool that organises your projects into boards.
At a glance, Trello tells you what's being worked on, who's working on what, and where something is in a process. It's like a white board, filled with lists of sticky notes, with each note as a task for you.
To learn more head to Trello and take the tour to see if it is for you.
It's easy to set up and use.
Getting to first draft
This is a great time to think about your time and resources. You have done a lot of hard work getting to this stage, now you have to apply yourself and write.
This is often easier said than done.
Complete a chapter synopsis before you write. This is not compulsory, but you will find it helpful.
Think about how you like to do things. Will you want to:-
Start at the beginning and write daily (ish) all the way through to first draft?
Write random chapters and then join it all together?
Start at the beginning, but pause often to reflect and relook at your outline?
No matter how you like to write (and do things) you need a deadline.
When I work with my clients we meet weekly and discuss each chapter. The client goes off to write and sends it back to me before our next meeting.
Before we meet I review to ensure that there is still flow and we are on track. If not we go back to the outline and synopsis and learn why its changed and do something about it.
What you may find is that you a) stick to your outline or b) as you write find other things come up or you want to delete things that no longer seem relevant. This is why it is important to spend time on the outline and chapter framework.
Be prepared. Reflect often and enjoy the process.
ACTION: Put time in your diary and write. Learn how to make this enjoyable for you. Get to the end of your first draft and celebrate. Leave it and then come back to edit.