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Writer Tip: Summary and Scene

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As a writer of creative nonfiction, you have two primary tools for telling your story: scene and summary. A scene is where your characters appear in a specific setting, do what they do, and then leave. A summary is simply a recap of something that happened. It’s your job to skillfully combine scene with summary and write a compelling manuscript that keeps your readers engaged and delivers them to the end result – the purpose of your book.

Difference Between Writing Summaries and Writing Scenes

An almost universal mistake that new writers make is that they write summaries when they should be writing scenes. It’s not that summary is bad. The problem is that they summarize (TELL) when they should actually write a scene to SHOW what is happening – yep, it’s the old show, don’t tell again.

It’s the SCENE that transforms your writing from mere theory to reality, and it’s the scene that activates the reader’s imagination. In a scene, you don’t tell the reader what is happening, what a character is thinking, or what they are like, but you allow the reader to experience it firsthand and to draw their own conclusions. A scene recreates an experience you had and lets the reader be part of it.

When you summarize instead of writing scenes, the reader misses the elements that bring the story to life — the scents, colors, tastes, and sounds of action – the sensory details. They also miss out on how the characters behave, how they act and react, how they relate to one another, how they conduct themselves. Instead of the full-color HD experience, they get the flat, monochromatic, less-than-soundbite version.  

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that summary is wrong or that it’s bad. You just need to know how and when to use it. You can’t go passive on your audience and refuse to do the hard work of writing scenes. In fact, your manuscript should ultimately be a carefully constructed story where summary connects your scenes.

Did you ever play with Tinker Toys as a child? Well, the scenes are the hub or the wooden spools, and your writing scenessummaries are the sticks that connect them. You cannot join two sticks together. If you want to put them in consecutive order, the only way to do that is to lay them down end to end. But that doesn’t really connect them. You have to have a spool to connect the stick to anything. Likewise, you don’t lay out summary after summary after summary. Just like a child will get bored with a pile of sticks, your readers need scenes to carry them through your work.

Summary is Telling. Scenes are Showing. Tell me a little, but show me a lot!

 


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How becoming a “thought leader” contributes to the success of a coach

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What exactly is a “thought leader?” The short answer is that it depends on who you ask. Although the definitions can vary, the majority agree that a thought leader possesses expert knowledge in a particular field, and their position and opinions about that subject are both authoritative and influential.

Anyone who wants to be a successful coach should focus on becoming a thought leader
thought leader. The term “coach” is broad a term and can  include business coaches, career coaches, life coaches, financial coaches, exercise coaches, etc. If your profession centers around helping others find their way down a specific path to reach a desired result, you are a coach. And you can increase your overall success by becoming a thought leader, as well as by writing a book to increase your credibility and attract a following.

Becoming a thought leader better prepares you to be a coach

To be a true thought leader, you must put in the time and work necessary to gain that coveted title. Media and advertising analyst, Rebecca Lieb, describes thought leadership as, “rather like achieving academic tenure,” and goes on to say, “Thought leadership requires a continuum of wisdom, accomplishment, and a body of published work that stands the test of a degree of time.” (Source)

A true thought leader doesn’t become an expert overnight. They have honed their craft, gathered knowledge, and learned by working over a number of years. They have a list of accomplishments that prove their value. When a coach puts in the time to become a thought leader, they are not simply knowledgeable but also influential, meaning that they not only help their clients but also other professionals in that field.

Publishing a book sets you up to become a thought leader

When you present your knowledge in a well-written nonfiction book, you set yourself up for success. You go from being a self-proclaimed expert to a recognized expert. You set yourself apart from the crowded field and add a significant credential. You know that knowledge is power, but name recognition is just as important. There are hundreds of coaches in your field and the competition for clients is fierce. Don’t you want to be the one with the prestige and name recognition associated with being a thought leader?

When you write your book, you establish yourself as an expert in your field, increase your credibility, set yourself apart from all the self-proclaimed experts, and attract a following. It’s one way to take a step towards thought leadership.

 


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