Check your book structure and key points

Rescue Your Unfinished Book

Previously, I listed 10 top tips to help you get back on track with your book. Whether you are grappling with your structure, your topic or your content, these tips will give you some insight into how to solve the problem. Here are the top tips again:

Top Tip 1: Get feedback, preferably from a professional editor
Top Tip 2: Create a book plan so you know whether you have the right content
Top Tip 3: Check the structure works by looking at the contents list
Top Tip 4: Check your subject is right for your business and for you as an author
Top Tip 5: Work out where this book fits within your business
Top Tip 6: Make sure you are clear on your key points
Top Tip 7: Create a new writing schedule so you can begin writing regularly again
Top Tip 8: Finish writing before you start revising and editing
Top Tip 9: Focus your book if you have too much content
Top Tip 10: Add more detail if you have too little content

Below are the details of the sixth tip on what you can do to get your book back on track. If you are struggling with your book, it’s possible you need to check your structure and make sure you are clear on your key points.

Once you have a clear idea of your book structure you will find it far quicker and much easier to write your book.

Top Tip 6: Make sure you are clear on your key points

If you jumped into writing a book without a proper plan, you may come up against doubts and uncertainties about your key points.

When you dive into the task of writing a book without a proper plan two things can happen:

  1. You may find that as you let rip with your creativity a really great idea emerges and your book falls into place with relative ease; or
  2. You may find you end up weaving together a wide range of information that just doesn’t fit together.

If you get the first result, lucky you! If you get the second result, you will need a strategy to resolve the problems that you get as a result.

The benefits of speed-writing

Diving in by just starting to write your book can have benefits as doing a spot of free-writing can unlock your ideas and allow you to explore them before settling on one main topic for your book. However, free-writing still needs to be structured and honed if it’s going to result in a book.

If writing is a challenge for you, free writing and speed writing are both great ways of getting words on the page. What makes it even more productive is writing within a firm structure; it will also help you write your book faster.

How to create a productive book structurebook outline 1

To work out your structure, first write down all your key points about your topic. What do you want to say about your subject? Put your ideas in a list then eliminate or merge any ideas that are related or similar and delete any that are off-topic or repetitive.

Once you’ve done that, rewrite your list putting your ideas in a rough order. If you prefer, write each idea on a sticky note or postcard so you can move them around more easily.

When you are happy with the order of your topics, write out a finished contents list. Each of the topic in your list is a chapter heading. Write down each heading and write a summary of what this chapter will be about. Next, list out the key points – these will be your main headings.

This process sounds so simple, but I know it is not. It takes time and a certain amount of free-writing and exploration to get to the point where you feel confident you have decided on the right chapters and key headings for your book.

It is worth being aware that no matter how much you work on your structure that it may change in the process of writing. Having a well-worked out structure will help you handle this if it happens because you will be able to spot red-herrings and deal with them quickly rather than getting distracted by them.

If valid arguments emerge that counter your key book message, you will find it easier to discuss them within a well-defined structure. This is because you will be able to add any additional headings in the right part of the book rather than just adding it in randomly.

How many chapters do you need?

This is like asking how long a piece of string is – basically, you can have as many as you like. That said, unless you have a vast and complex topic to cover, plan for around 5-7 chapters but don’t try to restrict your book to this number of chapters if you need more or less. If you have 10 or more chapters you might like consider breaking your book into sections so there is another layer of structure around your material.

With this kind of clear outline in place getting the words on the page will be far easier, you will be less likely to over-write or under-write, and you are far less likely to get waylaid by doubts and confusion. Your structure is so powerful it will practically write your book for you.

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        »  What do You Want Your Book to do for Your Business?
        »  Get Feedback on Your Book
        »  Proof-reading – do you need it?
        »  What Point are You at in Your Business and How Can a Book Help?
        »  7 Ways to Become an Author without Writing a Book


About The Author

Deborah Taylor

Deborah Taylor is a book-writing coach and publishing consultant. Her goal is to make publishing easy, fast and fun so all entrepreneurs from coaches and consultants to therapists and trainers can get a book out there that will launch their business. Deborah has 15 years' publishing experience gained with blue-chip publishing companies such as Hodder & Stoughton, BBC Books, Cassell and Pearson. She has extensive editorial experience working with a wide range of experts from chefs and gardeners to life coaches and careers consultants. Deborah's goal is to get your book published, and having achieved that with well over 100 books already, she is confident that she can help you publish yours too.

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