I have a message to share, but where do I start?

Getting your message organizedMany of us write because we believe we have a message God wants us to share. In fact, our first book is often about lessons learned from a personal experience that we believe will help others. We want to convey information that will help others navigate and conquer a similar problem.

That was certainly the case for my first book, Help! My Husband Has Sexually Abused Our Daughter (updated, revised, and retitled Carried by Grace in 2014).

Communication happens in 3 ways:

  • What we say (which accounts for only 7% of the message!)
  • Tone of voice
  • Body language

But in books, we rely strictly on the written word. In nonfiction writing, tone of voice and body language are communicated through our style of writing. This makes our word choices vital (though our word choices are always vital).

Getting Organized

You have a message to communicate, but if it isn’t done is an organized manner, your message may get garbled.

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you seek to organize all the elements of your book:

  • Is there a learning progression to what I am presenting? (like learning the alphabet before one learns to spell and read.)
  • Are there principles that build on one another? Have I presented them in the correct order?
  • Am I assuming a certain knowledge level in my target audience that they really don’t have? Knowing your target audience is essential, and don’t think in general terms, e.g. all Christians.
  • What do I want my readers to learn? Have I presented the material necessary for those lessons?
  • What benefits do I hope to give my readers? Have I fulfilled those?
  • Have I documented my sources so I can cite them correctly and where necessary?

When I sat down each day to work on my first book, I prayed before I did anything else. Because I was communicating God’s Word and principles in what I wrote I needed the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

If you have a Christian message to share, I highly recommend you do the same. I not only pray before I begin to write, but also while I write.

Just as a fiction plot must be laid out in a path the reader can follow, the topics of a nonfiction book must be arranged in a manner that promotes learning for the reader.

Take heart. You are created in the image of God, the master creator, and you have the mind of Christ (Genesis 1:27, 1 Corinthian 2:16). That means you have the capability to create!

What has you snagged in writing your nonfiction book? Leave your comments below.

Want to get published but don’t know where to start?

Maybe you have a finished manuscript or just an idea stuck in your head. Email me today at Deb [at] DebraLButterfield [dot] com, and let's discuss how I can help you reach your dream of publication.

Comments

  1. Your questions you suggest are going to now be my checklist and filter I pass my works through. Very insightful.

  2. Hi Debra, I appreciate your “questions to ask yourself,” especially the one about assuming a certain knowledge level in your readers. We all come from different backgrounds. Some of us have been studying the Bible for years. We shouldn’t assume that our readers know and understand what we are saying just because we do. And yes, prayer is always important.

    • So true, Donna. Our knowledge level can trip us up in clearly communicating to our reader. That’s why it’s so important to know our target reader. It’s also nice to have some people from our target audience read an advanced copy and give feedback. They’ll alert us if they get lost or confused.

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  1. […] wrote earlier this month about the things that drive us to write the books we do. This is especially true for author Donna Whittaker, who this month reaches a […]

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