Quite by chance, I bought a Kindle book last night called Book Writing Made Simple by Kalinda Rose Stevenson. It held the solution to a problem I had been grappling with for some while and was just on the verge of solving so I wanted to share it with you. I hope the ideas in this little book help you and, if so, I urge you to read it it in full as it is indeed a short book.
Stevenson’s book has one central point or argument and that is that you need an argument as well as a topic if you are going to write a focused, interesting and useful book.Stevenson explains that by ‘argument’ she doesn’t mean us all to be fighting or having a row with someone.
The term ‘argument’ simply means you need to start with a point of view that you are going to defend – just as a lawyer would defend a case in a courtroom.Let’s look at how an argument or ‘thesis’ might help develop or hone an existing book concept.
Let’s say you want to write a book about how to have productive sales conversations with prospective clients.
Here is how the ‘argument’ perspective can alter a simple book concept.
- Concept without an argument: How to have sales conversations that convert prospects into clients.
- Concept plus an argument: Sales conversations that convert need to start from a point of service not sales.
Stevenson’s point is that you need to declare a point of view because it is by doing this that you declare a point of view. The purpose of the book is to convince your reader of your point of view and demonstrate why it is a valid perspective.
This will guide your research and what data an idea you include in the book. If you went with the topic idea without a clarifying argument, you would end up writing a rather dull and probably very long book because you would be in danger of having a limitless topic area that could include anything and everything on the subject of sales conversations.
If you have a book idea, try making a declaration about what you believe and what you actually want to persuade your readers is true. How does this approach change your concept? In what way does it make it a tighter topic area to write about?
I ask these questions because, as Stevenson points out, it is by asking questions that we discover our own opinions and this allows us to begin to form declarations that we are able and willing to defend in a book.
I also believe this approach to writing a book (or indeed a great blog post or article) encourages you to do better research, provide more convincing proof of your argument and write a more tightly focused book. There is less chance of going off on a tangent with this approach as the declaration keeps the focus of your writing tightly bound to the job of proving your declaration.
One thing to bear in mind as you create your concept using questions and declarations is that the resulting statement is not a book titles. These are concepts you will use to guide the content of your book. The title is put together entirely differently. In fact, it helps if you don’t attempt to create a title and then write a book around it, otherwise you may not ever nail down the real subject of your book.
If you are grappling with an overlong book or a concept that is too woolly and difficult to write about, apply this simple idea and see what impact it has on your book concept and your writing.