you outlined your book yet? If not, no worries I'll get you
started with a good plan. With an outline for a book
in place, writing your book becomes more like fill-in-the-blanks.
You can easily see what comes next. As you fill in your outline,
you will be able to see any gaps in information already compiled
or written. With all that said, here are some tips and steps
to outline your book successfully.
If you create a good outline for your book, you can easily write
a good book. If your outline is weak, more than likely your
book will be equally less compelling. Before we start, I must
add a good outline may mean different things to different people.
There are lot's of good ways to create an outline. In this post,
we'll focus on creating a linear outline; then in a later post
we'll use a mind map to outline your book.
outline is considered the roadmap for getting from a blank page
to your finished book. We will look at three of the six basic
ways to create a linear outline. Then I'll post an additional
section where we'll discuss creating an outline using a mind
map. I usually end up using a combination of several different
methods. So, I'll leave the choice to you which suits you best
to create your book outline.
The six most common and basic outlines in the
linear method are:
1. Alphabetically Outline
2. Step by Step Outline
3. Mistakes Outline
4. List Outline
5. Q/A Outline
6. Content Outline
so, there are two main elements that should be in an
outline for a book every time. The table of contents
is one and the other is chapter divisions. You'll find it's
easier for you and your readers to find information, if you
divide it into chapters and even sections. It chunks the information
into smaller pieces that are easier for you to write or your
readers to read and absorb.
dividing your information into chapters makes it easier to create
your table of contents. This table is where your readers will
find out what's in your book and where it's located. So, your
first step is to decide how you want to organize your information.
Then arrange the information into chapters that
align with your outline method. As you add information and flesh
out your book, you can decide whether to add sub-topics and
sub-divisions to your chapters. The last thing to do and for
some the first thing to do is generate the table of contents.
Now, let's take a look at three of the six outline types.
by Step Outline
The step by step or process outline method is commonly used
in how-to and self-help books. Whether your book is selling
real estate,buying your first home, fly fishing or baking a
cake, each follows a process with individual steps that can
be described. A good example of a process outlined book is Lilyan
Wilder's "7 Steps to Fearless Speaking" (John Wiley
& Sons, Inc.), it walks you through seven proven steps to
speaking without fear. Ms. Wilder has been consultant to broadcast
correspondents at ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN. She has coached celebrities
like Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelo and
James Earl Jones.
to Fearless Speaking" is also organized according to a
process, divided into a series of steps to explain the process
of speaking, voice strengthening and voice control. The steps
are organized by a distinctive feature of the total process
outline and in the order they are best performed.
this method, each step becomes the title of a chapter. In Ms.
Wilder's book, each step became a stand alone chapter with stories
and examples. Also, this type of outline lends itself easily
to sub- divisions within each chapter. There is often more than
one way to accomplish each step of a process, just as there
is more than one way to outline a book. These options or choices
can become the sub-
divisions of each chapter(step).
A list outline is good for information you want to present using
numbered chapters or sections. This type of outline doesn't
necessarily have to be in any particular order. A devotional
type book with a timed list of devotions like 52 Weeks... or
365 Days...or the author's "Jumpstart: 100 Book Writing
Tips Action Exercises and Quotable Encouragement" or Jim
Cockrum's "Free Marketing 101." September 2011 marked
the release of his first "book store shelf" book Free
Marketing: 101 Low and No-Cost Ways to Grow Your Business,
Online and Off.
method offers you a group of chapters that are fully capable
of standing alone. It makes them easier to write because you
don't have to write them to connect to each other. Since there's
no logical order, it's also easier to read naturally or in short
spurts of time. The reader can jump around to any chapter at
any time, according to their interest.
list outline also gives your book magical appeal to your readers
and customers. Titles like 101 Free Marketing Tips, 100 Book
Writing Tips and Action Steps instantly get customers to working
out mentally what might be on the list.
are by nature attracted to numbered list that make the solution
look easy. For example, the title mentioned earlier "7
Steps to Fearless Speaking" made it seem achievable. Another
good example, is the popular book "The 7 Habits of Highly
Effective People" by Stephen Covey. It became a best seller
because readers wanted to know what the seven habits were.
The Q&A (questions and answers) outline is one of the easiest,
in my opinion. If you have a lot of experience and knowledge
on your topic, this might be the best outline method for you.
If you've been living, breathing, talking it, dreaming it, teaching
it and writing about it for years, you probably already know
the most frequently asked questions and the answers. You can
simply make a list of the most commonly asked questions and
write the answers to each in detail. The result will be the
rough draft for your book.
Or another scenario might be you interviewing
the experts in your field and creating a chapter for each expert.
Each chapter would contain basically a question and answer interview
of each expert. The main thing to remember about this type of
outline is to make sure you have answers to the questions everyone
is asking. Your book will quickly become known as the solutions
book for your field. You might consider an index as well as
the table of contents. Inside your book, you can index the questions/answers
to help your reader find specific topics and divide it into
chapters and sub-topic groups.
completing your outline for a book, start writing your book
according to the outline, table of contents and draft.
An Outline For A Book
When I start writing a book, I use a technique very
similar to my article templates. You might find it helpful too.
I create a basic outline (list is my favorite) as my map. From
the outline, I create a table of contents. I create a document
in Word named and saved after book title. As a template, I create
a page for each part of the book from front matter, table of
contents, introduction, chapter names, index, and back matter.
Inside the template or shell I add material
as I write to each chapter or part of the book. In case you
don't know what front and back matter is, front matter is title
page, copyright page, dedication, acknowledgements and introduction.
Back matter would include resource list, author bio, end notes,
bibliography, and index.
your book template is created, you simply add your writing under
each chapter heading and sub-topic. Then fill in the blanks
on each front and back matter pages. For example, fill in your
copyright information, acknowledgements, dedication, resources,
author bio and the rest.
the 100 Days To A Book site for More Tips About Outlining your
book - Lesson includes a Mind Map Guide: http://bookwritingcourse.com
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