In some ways, it’s best to think about the finished product before you start writing the book. Every successful non-fiction book can be summed up in one sentence. That’s your big idea. It’s like a 10-second pitch that would “hook” a reporter on the spot — or a book publicist! Once you know your big idea, create a structure that can be grasped at a glance. This will become your table of contents. 10 Steps. 5 Strategies. 7 Lessons. In this age of short attention spans, you need to create a skeleton that has an internal logic that can be easily understood before you flesh it out.
A skillful novelist can take us on a journey so compelling that we keep reading without any mid-chapter temptation to insert the bookmark and go to sleep. We get completely absorbed in the novelist’s imaginary world of intrigue, romance, adventure, betrayal, or beauty. The images and emotions we create in our brain bond us to the work like a powerful magnetic force.
Is Writing Non-Fiction a Completely Different Experience?
In many ways, it is exactly the same. Like a novelist, a good non-fiction writer needs to be involved with the reader’s emotions. Her words and ideas have to create that same feeling and experience of connection in the reader. The non-fiction writer wants her reader to be thinking, “This book speaks to ME.” Whether it’s a self-help book or a business book filled with new strategies for success, a writer’s aim it to move and inspire the reader.