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A Simple Formula For Telling Your Story

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a simple formula for telling your story non-fiction book consultant how to write a book learn how to write a bookSo, what’s your story? Has anybody ever asked you that?  It kind of sounds like a pick-up line, doesn’t it?

Maybe nobody has asked you that exact question, but they have asked that question in other forms. They say things like:

  • What do you do?
  • What line of work are you in?
  • Where are you from?
  • Do you have any children?
  • What does your company do?
  • Where did you go to school?
  • What do you sell?
  • How do you differentiate your product / service / self?

How you tell your story is just as important as the story itself.

How To Craft Your Exceptional Story

You can apply what I’m about to teach you to any story you tell, whether it’s about you, your company, your product, or your family.

The first step is to build its foundation, and you can do that by answering these two questions:

What’s the purpose? AND Who’s the audience?

  1. What’s the purpose?

You probably have a general idea of what you want to tell, but I challenge you distill it down to a single Purpose Statement before you start. Your Purpose Statement should say, “The purpose of my story is to ___________________. 

Complete that sentence. Bear in mind that it’s one sentence, not a paragraph.

Let me give you an example using my own purpose statement: The purpose of my story is to give people the courage to tell their truth and the tools they need to write a high-impact nonfiction book that will save lives, change lives, or transform society.

  1. Who’s the Audience?

If you don’t know your audience, it’s like playing spin-the-bottle in the dark. Don’t you want to know who you’re going kiss before you pucker up? Likewise, you need to envision your audience. Who do you interact with? What’s their age, demographic, marital status? Are they male or female, conservative or liberal? How do they identify themselves? Complete this sentence: The audience for my story is __________________.

Example: The audience for my story is everyday people.

  1. Pull it all together.

Now pull these components together to craft a single statement.

Example: The purpose of my story is to give everyday people the courage to tell their truth and the tools they need to write a high-impact nonfiction book that will save lives, change lives, or transform society.

Now that you have your Purpose Statement, you’ll want to write your story from your audience’s perspective, not yours. What do they want to know? What information are they seeking? What new message or perspective can you deliver? Compelling content always meets the need, and your job is to deliver what your audience is seeking.

Three Elements Of Your Story

Now I’d like to teach you the three elements of telling your story – and, no, it’s not beginning, middle, and end!

Stories are powerful, but only if they have a point. Your challenge is to think about your audience and convey what would be meaningful to them. Resist the temptation to tell them everything – you’ll bore them to death! Pare your story down to your purpose, and leave the rest behind.

Here’s a simple formula that you can use to tell your story:

Part 1. What it used to be like

Before you were where you are now, your life/work/health was a certain way. What was it like?

  • Was it pleasant and peaceful? 
  • Was it stressful and harrowing?
  • Were you broke and despondent?
  • Was there something missing in?
  • Something frustrating?
  • Was it seemingly perfect?

Example: I was trapped in a high-paying high-tech job that I hated but couldn’t leave because I was too afraid.

Part 2. What happened?What it used to be like

This brings us to the pivotal point in YOUR story. The pivotal point is the “what happened” of your story.

Change usually takes place due to one of two things. Perhaps you had an aha! moment and were internally motivated to try something new or move in a new direction. You realized something and made some changes. Those changes were internally motivated.

However, for a lot of us, change is forced upon us by external factors such as an illness, death, divorce, a marriage, new baby, or a lost job. What happened in your life that caused you to seek a new direction and put you on a different path?

This is the turning point in your story. It’s the event/circumstance/situation that bridges the before and after. What happened that changed everything? What was your pivotal moment?

Example: My dad was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor and I shut everything down and traveled back and forth to Florida to be with my parents. After he died, I had the opportunity to start over, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I always loved to write, so I went back to school to get my Masters of Fine Arts degree in Writing. After I graduated I joined the faculty to teach writing, then started a small press to publish nonfiction books. I realized that most of the powerful stories were not being told, they were trapped inside of people, so I took what I knew as a university professor and a publisher and created a step-by-step methodology to turn people who aren’t writers into authors.    

Part 3. What it’s like now

This is the “After” portion. What is your life like now? How are you different now?  What are you doing to add value to your world?

Example: Now the people I work with have become the voices of hope and help. They are reaching out and changing people’s lives, simply by telling their stories.

When you write your story using this formula—what it used to be like, what happened, and what it’s like now, then seal it with your Purpose – then you have crafted your exceptional story.

Let’s take a look at all the elements pulled together.

I was trapped in a high-paying high-tech job that I hated but couldn’t leave because I was too afraid. But then my dad was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumo,r and I shut everything down and traveled back and forth to Florida to be with my parents.

After he died, I had the opportunity to start over, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I always loved to write, so I went back to school to get my Masters of Fine Arts degree in Writing. After I graduated I joined the faculty to teach writing, then started a small press to publish nonfiction books. I realized that most of the powerful stories were not being told because they were trapped inside of people, so I took what I knew as a university professor and a publisher and created a step-by-step methodology to turn people who aren’t writers into authors.    

Now the people I work with have become the voices of hope and help. They are reaching out and changing people’s lives, simply by telling their stories. The reason I do this is to give everyday people the courage to tell their truth and the tools they need to write a high-impact nonfiction book that will save lives, change lives, or transform society.

That’s MY story and I’m sticking to it!

What about your story? You’re the only one who can do it.

If you would like support, consider one of my nonfiction book coaching programs:

 


author-coaching-book-coach-online-writing-class-get-my-book-outAbout Nancy Erickson

Nancy Erickson is better known as “The Book Professor,” a writing and publishing consultant who specializes in helping aspiring nonfiction authors bring their book ideas to market. Nancy works as a book coach assisting authors that write self-help books, biographies, business books, and other nonfiction books through online courses and book coaching. Contact Nancy with questions or to have her speak at your upcoming event by clicking here.

 


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New Year’s Resolutions – Imagine Your Life as An Author

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When did you realize you had a story to tell?

Was it when you were a child, as you were watching events unfold around you? Did you know that you were seeing or experiencing something powerful before you even had the full vocabulary to express it to anyone?

Was it when you were an adolescent, as you bridged into your teenage years and your relationships started to take on new meaning and significance? Did you feel your more grown-up observations form as you tried to make sense of a world that changed fast — but less quickly than you did at that time?

What about as a young adult when you entered the workforce or college or marriage? How did it feel to take on those new responsibilities? Did you handle them well, or are there things from that time you still need to sort through?

Was there a turning point in your career? A significant change in relationships such as a birth, a sickness, or a death?

What about an opportunity missed? Was there a botched opportunity, or a mistake that turned out to give you greater clarity and forward motion?

How have you thought about your story since you decided you wanted to tell it?

It is now 2016, the start of a brand new year where we have the symbolic opportunity to make brand new decisions about how we want our lives to be from this point forward. What goals do you have for 2016?

I want to get my book out!

Or maybe you have already broken it down into pieces:

  • Gather my scattered thoughts about this book–what do I even want to say?
  • Set a regular schedule to sit down and write.
  • Finally finish chapter 1!

This year will pass, no matter what we do or don’t do. Why not set the course to do something that will allow you to finally have a completed manuscript at the end of it?

Here are 3 ways I can help you realize this goal:

Get My Book Out!™, an Online Course for Aspiring Authors

Get My Book Out!™ is your complete guide to get your nonfiction book out of your head and into the hands of your future readers in less than one year. My step-by-step online course includes 3 modules of lessons, a wealth of downloadable guides, and support from your fellow writers. Are you confident that with the right course you can write your book on your own time at your own pace? Click here to learn more!

Group Book Coaching for Executives

Through three 16-week modules in my exclusive online writing course, I work directly with busy executives and help them develop their nonfiction book concept, organize their material, and write a book that will change lives, save lives, or transform society. This course offers the advantages of a personally available writing coach and the structure of an academic course at a high-value price point. Would you like to write your book with the hands-on support of a coach and peers? Click here to learn more!

One-on-One Book Coaching

As your private book writing coach, I will work with you one-on-one every 2-3 weeks through six (6) 90-minute Skype sessions where we will plan your nonfiction book project, and work to build it piece-by-piece. You will have “homework” to complete between sessions so that you can make significant progress on the foundation of your book and write a piece that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the best books on the market.  Do you want the most exclusive and customized book coaching experience to get your book out FAST? Click here to learn more!

You’ve imagined the story you would tell and you’ve imagined the kind of goals you would like to realize this year, but how you would like your life to feel this year and after?

Imagine your life as an author. How will it feel to know that you’ve:

  • Worked hard and been disciplined
  • Set a goal and achieved it
  • Completed something big that most people will never do
  • Created an opportunity for more income for yourself
  • Started down a path to write more books
  • Told your first story

And that is just the beginning, your first story. How much more is stored in your heart?

If that vision of Future Author You is still forming, here are some other opportunities for you to connect to that energy and know where to start when the time is right:

  • Sign up for my newsletter below to receive great writing tips and tricks each month right in your inbox!
  • Attend this special event on January 20th online or January 27th in person to learn 10 Mistakes New Authors Make (and How to Avoid Them!)

Here’s to you, Future Author! Let’s make 2016 a wonderful, meaningful year.

 

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