The difficult thing about planning a book is working out how to break down the information; often it feels as if there is just this great mass of data swirling around in your head. Perhaps it is your story, or your decades of work experience.
Perhaps it is theory you teach or unpack. The task now is to break this down into a series of chapters.
All books (even novels) start with the author making a working plan on how the story will unfold.
In non-fiction you need to group all your information into chapters, which become a well-organised Table of Contents (TOC). A TOC is critical to keep you focused, and it allows the reader to choose the chapters they want to read and those they may want to skip.
Memoirs and biographies have a totally different plotting structure to non-fiction books:
their framework is closer to the plot structure of a novel. You need to tell a story, and you will plot these books using scenes as the building blocks of the story rather than chapters.
YOU HAVE TO ACTUALLY WRITE
Aah yes, the writing time…
Writing a book is a long journey, but this is also the magical part. Once you have the right structure over which to drape your words, they will flow. Or you will force them out.
Either way, you have to actually write. My advice is always to write the first draft of a book
fast. I like to push writers to write it in under four months. Writing time is an investment in your future as an author.
Sarah Bullen is a writing coach, literary agent and book editor. She coaches writers on how to become authors and how to write to get published.