Now let’s talk about my Three-Step Writing Process regarding nonfiction books.
Step 1: Theme and Outline: First, decide what your main purpose is in writing this particular book. Where are you going? State your theme in one word. State it in one sentence. Know what you want to say, and say it. Keep to one subject. You are using the analytical (left) side of your brain to write your focus sentence. You will probably start with something general and refine it as you develop your book.
For an example, I am going to use my book, Wounded by Words: Healing the Invisible Scars of Emotional Abuse.
One word: abuse.
Sentence: Now is your chance to break the cycle of emotional and verbal abuse and set yourself and your loved ones free.
The major problem with most book manuscripts that are rejected is they deviate from their premises. The writer tries to tell too many stories or attempts to make too many points in one book.
Step 2 and 3 will be covered in future blogs.
Writing a nonfiction book involves many other things besides the actual writing. I also include reading, rewriting, and editing in my time. These, too, are important parts of the writing process. To write you must spend as much time reading as you do writing. You will gain ideas for your own writing, and it will help you develop your own writing style. Also you need to read articles and books on the subject you are writing about to better educate yourself on your subject.
Writing is starting with a blank computer screen and putting one word down after another. And the more information you have in your head at the time you begin, the easier the task will be. If you wrote a page a day, you'd have 365 pages at the end of a year. Of course those wouldn’t be edited pages, but we will discuss that in later blogs.
Next week we will talk about my Three-Step Writing Process.
We will begin a long series on writing nonfiction books from the formation of an idea to a final product. Writing a book is like eating an elephant. A person does not dare to attempt the project in one sitting! We will cover book proposals, writing the entire elephant, and contract negotiations. You’re reading this because you want to write, to get your book published, and to glorify God. Right? You can use these same techniques for articles, stories, and fiction, as well as nonfiction books. Are you published?
Over 40 years ago when I began writing, I made a commitment to God and to myself that I would write for an hour every day. I started writing Sunday school take-home papers. Now I have over 30 books in print, my latest being on domestic violence, titled Breaking Invisible Chains. However, with running my critique business, editing manuscripts, and teaching students to polish their writing, I still struggle with finding time to write my own books! What kind of a commitment are you willing to make? Perhaps you could start with a promise to write for an hour a day. If you spend that much time daily, I can guarantee that on many of those days you will spend much more time.
Next week we will talk about what is involved in writing a nonfiction book.
When Is Your Title Right?
How can you know when your title is right? The acronym "ACE" will help you create a memorable title.
"A" is for accurate. The title must truthfully reveal the focus of the article and also fit its tone. You wouldn't put "Buffalo Bob Bites Bullet" on a serious crime story any more than the President would turn up for a televised press conference in a sweatsuit.
"C" is for concise. Five to seven words are a typically good length. Active verbs, specific nouns, and descriptive adjectives help tighten the message.
"E" is for eye-catching. You have just a few words to convince your readers you can provide what they want. So you appeal to their felt needs, whether that is for information, inspiration, consternation, or confirmation. One study showed the use of pronouns ("you," "I," "they") and the "how-to" approach made for stronger titles.
Put a lot of thought in a title before sending your manuscript to an editor. The first person you need to impress is at the publishing house, so they will publish your article or book.
This concludes the series on titles.