So, it’s your year 2017. You are going to be a published author. You know what you want to write about, you are ready to put fingers to keypad, or pen to paper.
It’s tempting to start writing, but wait, you must first create a basic outline and story map that will help you lay the foundations for your book idea. It will save you hours, of writing content that never makes it into the book. And, if you start here you will inevitably save time. Even if you later change the outline, having had this to begin with makes it much easier to sit down and write.
Before you start writing your book, answer the following:
- What is your goal for the book? What results would make it a success?
- Who is the audience you need to reach for the book to achieve its results?
- Why will that audience care? What wisdom or knowledge do you have to share that this audience would find valuable?
- Do you have a platform or an audience for your book?
- How much time can you spend working on your book every day?
- What help do you need to get you all of the information and content you require for your book?
A book, especially a non-fiction book, exists for this reason: to take a singular, contained set of wisdom or ideas out of the head of the author and share it with readers. Plainly put, a book is a medium of transfer for wisdom or ideas. That is the purpose it serves.
Before you start writing you need to plan, plan and plan some more. By planning your writing will flow and your book will grow. Writing fiction can be especially difficult as you have control over everything that is created. Non-fiction writers you may already know your outline, plot, characters and what the story will be about but it still requires you to think about what events you want to happen and how you will map out your story.
Once you have your ideas it’s time to start building your story map. It doesn’t have to be clear cut exactly what you want to happen but having a good idea of what you want to write will make it so much easier when it comes to writing. Throughout the writing process things will change and be adapted so don’t be worried if your story is slightly different to what you imagined when it’s complete. These changes will produce something better than you thought.
Put simply you need: a beginning, middle and an end.
If you’re very organised you will also have plans for each chapter. It often depends on what sort of person you are: some people can write freely without chapter plans; others find it best to plan out exactly what they want in each chapter. Try both ways and see what you prefer.
There are six elements to a story: a character, a setting, a conflict, beginning, middle and end.
A piece of writing is not a story unless something happens in it. If nothing happens, the piece might be a description or an article or a philosophical discourse, but not a story.
In a story, something has to happen. It happens to someone (a *character*), and it happens somewhere (*a setting*).
A *conflict* – or problem – is what makes something happen.
Conflict is important because it makes things happen. If everything in your character’s life is perfect, there is no reason for him or her to take action. There is no reason for anything to change. And no change equals – no story.
Beginning – This should include a great first chapter to grab your reader. It should lay the foundations of your story and give some indication where the story is leading.
Middle – This is where the action happens. Your story should be at its peak and your reader should be immersed in your words.
End – The story should be winding down here and coming to its conclusion. Leave the reader with your book on their mind long after they’ve finished it.
Try writing one to two lines on each element:
Create content from what you have and what you know.
Knowing what we know can be a challenge. All of which needs mapping out and aligning to the relevant chapter(s).
To make sense of your knowledge you need to locate it and create a map of where it is, how to access it and where to use it.
To make sense of our story, book idea, and knowledge we need to check in and ask if we have all of the content to start writing. Step one is to work out what you know and the information you can draw on to begin an outline of your book. Step two is discovering where all of the information is for your book. And step three is to work out what new content you will need and what research will be needed. Ask yourself, what is missing, and how you can fill in the gap?
It’s time to check-in, again and ask yourself the following:
Do you I have all of the information ready to go in my head?
Do I need more information from other resources?
Where will I research for the content I need?
The way to writing success is to become the first, or be amongst the leaders, to write about something that other people won’t. You are looking for ideas and content or subject opportunities that others may have overlooked in the genre you are writing about.
Every author has his or her own system.
This is just one we use with our authors.
To become an author with us, you can apply for our mentor programs at: firstname.lastname@example.org