Hello, writing nerds (the highest compliment I can pay anyone, btw)!
Today I’m going to wrap up my non-fiction prep series so that you may be dismissed to start writing your story!
Here’s a quick recap of the previous steps, all of which I guarantee will help make your book the best it can be:
- Step 1: Give your book a strong, clear, compelling tagline
- Step 2: Determine what makes your book unique, as well as what qualifies you as the best person to write it
- Step 3: Get specific on who your target audience is
- Step 4: List the book’s benefits and key take-aways for readers
If you haven’t completed all of the aforementioned steps, take some time to do so now and then meet me back here for Step 5, which is….
Thoroughly Describe Your Book’s Content
We all know that to get from Point A to Point B, we need to have a road map. Hopping onto the highway that is your manuscript without a map to guide you will eventually lead to dead-ends, traffic jams, and endless, meandering rabbit trails. Outlining your chapters will ensure that your drive to “The End” will be as steady and smooth as possible.
Think of your chapters as isolated mini books. So, just as you did with Steps 1-4, jot down a tagline for each chapter and make certain that every single one adequately answers the global questions of what makes your story unique, who your target audience is, etc. If a chapter idea doesn’t serve the global, overarching concepts of you book, toss it.
After you write a tagline for a specific chapter, write a sentence or two summarizing the chapter as a whole. Next, brainstorm any potential subheadings you may use to divide the chapter, and then give them a title (you can always change these later), followed by a few notes on what they’ll contain.
Here’s an example of an outlined chapter from the outline for my book Fit for Faith: A Christian Woman’s Guide to Total Fitness:
Chapter Three – “Chez Yahweh”
Tagline (aka, subtitle): “What Would God’s Restaurant Be Cookin’?”
Synopsis: Discuss how God’s “diet plan” given to the Israelites in the Old Testament books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy can and should be applied to our lives today, regardless of our religious beliefs.
Subheadings (this is only a few of them):
- “Deuteronomy and Leviticus – Diet Books?”
- Talk about kosher laws and why even non-Jews would be wise learn to about them.
- The Two Great Laws
- Discuss why God gave the Israelites two sets of laws: the Ten Commandments (the moral law) and the Mosaic Law (social, moral, and ceremonial commands)
- Just for the Health of It
- Discuss how God was by no means arbitrary in the laws He gave His people. A fact to consider is that modern hospitals follow nearly every guideline that God laid out in the Bible.
- Save Porky Pig
- Talk about why God put pork on the do-not-eat list. Reasons include sulfur in pigs’ connective tissues, subpar stomachs that do a poor job of refining their contents, and the high risk of getting salmonella poisoning from them ((56% of all pork samples are contaminated).
- No More Scavenger Hunts!
- Talk about the dangers of eating what Leviticus 11:10 calls “abominable fish,” namely bottom-feeders, shellfish, and crustaceans.
- Our Feathered Friends
- Point out the practical benefits of abstaining from predatory birds such as eagles, vultures, and owls.
There are five other subheadings which follow those, but I think you get the idea! A chapter summary is nothing fancy and should only take a few hours to complete. I know from experience that it may be tempting to forgo this step, but I implore you…DON’T! You will be so thankful you had a map to keep you on track and out of the nerve-racking reaches of writer’s block.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this non-fiction series! What’s been your favorite tip? When are you going to start writing your book? Leave a comment below or tweet me @dandersontyler!