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.

Story Premise: What it is and how to develop it

In last week’s “To Plot a Story,” guest Deborah Lyn Stanley stated, “A one-sentence premise is essential to a strong story.”

Many writers may not understand what a premise is or how to arrive at that one-sentence, so let’s take a look at it today.

Premise. Little boy meets alien.In almost all of my books on the craft, discussion of premise is missing, or perhaps they use different terminology. So is it any wonder when I ask writers what is the premise of their book, they answer with a blank stare. [Read more…]

To Plot a Story – Guest Post by Deborah Lyn Stanley

Deborah Lyn Stanley author artist editorToday’s guest post is from writer, artist, and editor Deborah Lyn Stanley. She is a retired project manager who now devotes her time to writing, art and care-giving mentally impaired seniors. She has published a collection of 24 artists’ interviews titled the Artists Interview Series. The series published as monthly articles for an online news network, can also be found on her web-blog: Deborah Lyn Stanley – Writers Blog. Her “How-To” articles have appeared in magazines. [Read more…]

How Much Do You Know About Your Target Audience

Recently, I picked up a book from the library with a main character in her 20s, even though I left that age behind long ago. She was terribly immature—more like a 16-year-old—and that kept me from bonding with the character. I never finished the book.

Has that ever happened to you? You failed to bond with any character from the story and consequently never finished the book?

No doubt the author’s target audience was women in their 20s, not those over 55.

“Target audience?” you ask. “Why is knowing about the target audience important?” [Read more…]

The Book Outline—Dispelling the Myth

Outlining. It’s one of those touchy subjects among writers—should you outline your story or not?

But like my recent post “Are You Crippling Your Creativity?” there is a certain misconception about outlines many beginning writers have that I hope to dispel today.

Most of us grew up being taught the traditional outline. [Read more…]

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Get Published!

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