There are a lot of things to think about when you start to write your nonfiction book, and one of them is its structure. Without structure you have chaos, and with chaos comes confusion. That’s why structure is such an important nonfiction writer tool.
To become a nonfiction writer and not just someone who has a story to tell, you will need organization. Before you put pen to paper, your book percolates in your head and chaos reigns, doesn’t it? Unorganized thoughts, stray threads, and important principles are all slammed together without structure. You have something to say, but how will you communicate it?
Your job as a nonfiction writer is to communicate. You must lead the reader through your story, your concept, or your process and help them make sense of what you present.
In a sense, you are a tour guide. You are taking your readers on a journey, and it’s up to you to plot the route.
Start with your Purpose Statement.
The purpose is the final destination on your tour, and you want to take your readers along the path of least resistance to reach the ultimate purpose of the book. Don’t let your readers get lost!
A good nonfiction writer uses structure to keep their readers’ attention
I recently watched a brilliant preschool teacher move fourteen squirming, easily distracted, practically-like-puppies little ones down a hall, past a flight of stairs, and to the gym at the far end of the building without one child stepping out of line. Not even one.
How did she do it? She simply gave them something to grab onto. This brilliant woman had fashioned a six-foot piece of rope like a lion’s tail, and each child grabbed the tail and followed as she guided them along the path to the gym. Not one child let go, not even one.
Of course, your readers aren’t preschoolers. They’re intelligent men and women, but they, too, need something they can grab as you guide them to the purpose of your book.
They need to grab onto you for this journey. It’s your job to get them from point A to point B, and the best way to do that is to let them hang onto your tail.
So what is your tail? It’s your tale, your own story. Structure is the writing tool that will wrangle your readers and keep them following along with you. Your story is the tie that binds all parts of your book together, it’s you from end to end, and in the middle, too. Your book needs to be completely infested with your own story from start to finish. That’s what provides the structure for your book. It’s your story, and only you can tell it. Get organized and tell your tale.