writing tips Archives - Write a Nonfiction Book with The Book Professor

Tag Archives: writing tips

  • 0

How to Write for Men or Women (or Both!)

Tags : 

Write a book that resonates with your audience, whether male or female.

Many aspiring writers have questions about how to write a book for men vs. women. Should authors employ a different style or voice for men than they would for women? Will an author have more success writing to his or her own gender? Is it wise for an author to switch audiences?

Nancy Erickson weighs in on the topic with good news: it’s not nearly that complicated.

Many Subjects Appeal to Both Men and Women

When you start writing a book, regardless of subject matter, begin with a careful analysis of the target audience.

“You have to know to whom you’re writing because that affects how you’ll deliver your message,” Nancy says. When she works with writers, they “spend a great deal of time answering a series of Foundational Questions” to determine the audience for the book.

Many topics turn out to be more universal than expected, says Nancy, and writers who envision speaking exclusively to women or to men may find eager readers in both camps.

Business and career coach, Tina Asher, discovered this while working with Nancy on her upcoming book Teetering, which advises readers how to transition from a corporate career to a different career and lifestyle. Asher began with the assumption that the book, which was largely based on her own personal journey and featured personal stories from other women, would appeal to women in the corporate world. Yet as she and Nancy gathered more anecdotes for the book, they had just as many stories about men as they did about women. Nancy and Tina realized the message of the book could help either sex on their journey out of the corporate world. And so, the book’s audience expanded.

The same thing happened to an author in The Book Professor’s® Group Mastermind program. Her book was about breast cancer, which seemed like a very female topic. Yet men can also get cancer of the breast tissue; more than 2,000 men receive such a diagnosis every year. Thus, the book could help both women and men navigate a challenging illness.

Even Dr. Kathy Maupin’s book Got Testosterone? has audience overlap. The book explains the benefits of hormone therapy for men, but wives and girlfriends often read the book first in their quest to help their partners improve their health.

Your Topic May “Lean” One Way or The Other

But some topics lean heavily toward one gender.

For example, The Book Professor® client Rich Daniels wrote A Tourist In My Own Life, a book about how fathers can form close bonds with their children. Some moms likely read the book too, but men are the obvious targets of its advice.

Another client, Heather Carey, writes about women’s relationship to food and how it connects to body dysmorphia and eating disorders. While some men struggle with these issues, women have historically borne the brunt of social shaming as it relates to the body. So Carey directed her writing toward a female audience.

“One thing I’ve found is that men and women have an equal yearning to communicate their message,” Nancy says. She’s worked with a multitude of clients and has seen equal talent, equal determination, and equal joy in the writing process from both men and women.

Find Your Voice and Stick to It

Should writers adopt different tones for different audiences—for example, a more direct tone for men and a gentler tone for women? “Not necessarily,” says Nancy. “The most important thing is to discover and maintain your authentic voice, regardless of the audience.”

“We never, ever want the author to change their voice based on who they’re addressing,” she says. She tells writers that their future readers “need you to be you.”

In fact, one of The Book Professor’s goals is for each author to learn to write in their own unique way.

Make Your (Male or Female) Audience Feel Included

So what, if anything, should differentiate a book for men vs. a book for women? Not much, Nancy says, save a couple of guiding principles:

Consider your metaphors and whether they’ll appeal to the intended audience.

Nonfiction authors often use similes and metaphors to help readers grasp a point. Choose your metaphors wisely depending on whether your book speaks to men, women, or both.

A book that uses sports examples might strike a strong chord with men, but would it appeal to most women? An author with a mixed audience—or a female audience—should evaluate this before comparing every challenge in the book to sports.

Likewise, women may be more likely to employ metaphors about family life and parenthood. In general, men are less apt to look at life through that lens.

Review your metaphors and your story examples and imagine how they’ll appeal your ideal audience.

Count the number of stories you tell about men vs. women.

Nonfiction books often feature stories of clients, friends, family members, or coworkers to help illustrate points and give examples. Notice whether your stories feature all men, all women, or a healthy mix of both.

If you hope to sell your book to women, you should ensure that many of your stories and examples feature women. Likewise, if you write for men, use mainly men’s stories. If you hope for a mixed audience, have a mixture of both.

“Always make sure you keep the reader inside your circle,” Nancy advises. “Don’t make them feel left out or excluded.”

Do You Need to Identify Your Audience?

You have a story to tell, but maybe you don’t know who would read it. The Book Professor® can help!

Our coaching program helps you identify your audience. Who will benefit from your story? Who would find it interesting? This process goes far beyond men vs. women and takes into account various factors that could define your ideal readership: age, background, career status, and much more.

Readers need your story. Only you can tell it. Let The Book Professor® guide you.


  • 0

How a business coach turned “creative chaos” into a 5-star non-fiction book

Tags : 

A Compelling Turn-Around Story

Beth Standlee is the Founder, CEO, and President of TrainerTainment. She’s also a sought-after speaker, coach, and writer. Through her million-dollar company, she teaches people how to sell with confidence.

Beth believes the ability to sell can turn a life around. She understands this truth intimately. A career in sales turned her life around.

When Beth was only nineteen, she unexpectedly became pregnant. Forced to drop out of college, she said, “Instead of getting my bachelor’s degree, I got my M.R.S. degree—then my M.O.M.!”

She believes she could have gotten stuck, unable to reach for the life of her dreams. She discovered sales—a career path that allowed her to fit work around her family’s schedule.

Beth says she was lucky. Blessed with a “wonderful groom,” she had the flexibility to grow as a professional. In 2004, she fulfilled another deferred dream and earned her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of North Texas.

However, Beth realizes many women aren’t as fortunate as she’s been. Increasingly, she wanted to write a book so others—especially women—could change their life through sales, too.

Her belief in the power of books spurred her on: “I wanted to write a book of my own because I’m a big reader. Books have certainly influenced my life and helped me grow.”

Then she laughed and said, “If this hillbilly from Arkansas can build a business through sales, anybody can!”

Turning Experience into a Compelling Book

As someone with an English degree, Beth is no stranger to the writing process. She writes the blog for TrainerTainment and, since 2006, a monthly column for RePlay Magazine called “The Party Professor.” She thought that writing a book would comfortably fall inside her skill set without much outside help.

So, at the beginning of 2018, she decided to collect her stories and wisdom into a book. She unplugged from work and set aside two weeks to churn out as much as possible. By day two, she realized she needed help.

She bought the book Stop Stalling and Start Writing: Kick the Excuses and Jumpstart Your Nonfiction Book by Nancy Erickson, The Book Professor®. She found Nancy’s structured approach to organizing ideas through BookMAPs™ especially useful.

Beth worked on a draft of her BookMAP but decided to reach out to Nancy for help. When she recalled their first conversation, she remembered saying, “I don’t know what I’m doing. I need your process for helping folks.”

Nancy asked Beth when they would need to publish. It was February 2018 at the time. Beth had a big trade show coming up in June and hoped she could to release it then. Much to Beth’s surprise, Nancy told her five months wouldn’t be enough to finish a book. “Quality takes time,” Nancy said.

Disappointed, Beth said, “At first I thought, ‘What kind of coach are you?’ But then I realized, as a coach myself, how hard it is being on the buyer’s side of coaching. I didn’t like the things Nancy was saying at first. But just like I understand sales, Nancy understood her process. It made me think, ‘So this is how those salespeople feel when a coach comes to help them!”

Partnership with a Book-Writing Coach

Beth felt comfortable with Nancy almost immediately. “It was very collaborative. Nancy helped me focus my story through an extremely efficient process. I came to her with ‘creative chaos,’ and she helped me organize it.”

First, they created a purpose statement. Beth wanted the book to show people—especially women—that a professional career in sales could change someone’s life both professionally and personally.

Soon after, Beth and Nancy structured the book’s problem/solution sets, an innovative part of the BookMAP process. Beth said, “From a speaker’s point of view, I really understood Nancy’s system. Make a point, then drive that point home. It was the same process: First problem. Then solution. Then here’s a story that’s going to help you remember that solution.”

Because Beth worked with Nancy one-to-one, she had the freedom to customize the writing process to her creative style. After some initial back and forth, Beth decided to complete the first draft in one large chunk, then send it to Nancy for feedback.

The notes Nancy gave Beth were insightful. They were also actionable. Beth was able to incorporate the edits during a difficult time—her husband was in the hospital, diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She finished her book as she cared for her husband (who’s now doing much better).

As they approached the final stages of editing, she relied heavily on Nancy’s consistent feedback, especially during such a difficult period.

A Five-Star Book on Amazon!

Beth’s partnership with Nancy gave her the ability to write and organize something as long and complicated as a book. She said, “I’m not a process-driven person, so I really connected with Nancy and her method.”

The Book Professor’s system helped Beth get the book to market as well. She said, “I wouldn’t have kept going if I had been responsible for editing, registering, coming up with the cover, and everything. I could do it, but I’m too busy!”

By May 2019, Beth released her book, People Buy from People. As of the publication of this article, all thirteen customer ratings on Amazon are five out of five stars.

She’s been able to accomplish all of her goals, even donating the book to several women-in-need organizations. Beth said, “When I write my next book, Nancy will be involved!”

To learn more about Beth Standlee’s book, People Buy from People, or to buy a copy, click here.

Are you ready to write your non-fiction book?

At The Book Professor®, we believe nearly anyone can write a quality book. But if you’re a busy professional, you may not feel like you have the time to create something that will truly make you feel proud.

Though many people begin writing books, few of them finish. Those who do rarely end up with a product they feel is worthy of the marketplace.

At TheBookProfessor.com, we help people from all walks of life get from a concept to a high-quality finished book. If you have a story that you need help writing, contact Nancy Erickson here.


  • 0

Nonfiction Writing Technique: Show Them the Real You

Tags : 

Nonfiction writing requires that we be authentic. Webster’s dictionary defines authentic as “not false or imitation” and “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.” Webster makes it sound so simple. But if you’re like me, it took a long time to become the person I was created to be, to truly embrace my authentic self.

As a child, did you feel pressure to become the person an authority figure thought you should be? Did you feel accepted when you behaved and acted in ways that they approved? As an adult, did you realize that the person you present to the world wasn’t really you at all, but because of an underlying need to be accepted by others, you kept up the facade anyway? For a long time, that’s what I did. Living an authentic life was something I had to learn.

Your Audience Deserves the Real You

As a nonfiction book coach, I have the opportunity to work with people from all over the world. Whether their nonfiction writing is about a new method of cooking or how they overcame a painful childhood trauma, I always tell them the same thing: your audience deserves to know the real you.

Your personal story is one of the most important parts of your book. Some writers, particularly if they’re writing a business book, want to leave out this part and simply share their knowledge or instruct the audience. That would be a mistake.

Before you can tell your readers anything, you must earn the right to be heard. Nobody likes to be told what to do, especially if they don’t know anything about you. What makes you an authority on this subject? Why should they listen to you? Those are the questions you answer when you share your own story.

And your readers don’t want the whitewashed version of you. Share your high points and the deep canyons, the wins and the demoralizing losses, the beautiful and the ugly. You must be real and transparent. When you’re open and honest, you give the reader permission to be open and honest, too.

I’m not saying it’s easy. It takes a lot of courage to be this vulnerable. We all want to put our best foot forward to make a good impression. We like to hide the messes we’ve made, but sometimes the mess has become your message.

That’s what’s so effective about my Executive Group Coaching classes. You get to share your failures and foibles in a safe place, test out your message with others in the class, and gain strength from doing so—before you bare your skin to the world.

What about you? Are you ready to show people who you really are?  If you or someone you know wants to learn to how to write a nonfiction book, please contact us today!

 


  • 0

Nonfiction Writing Technique: Point of View

Tags : 

Point of View refers to the perspective from which a story is being told. It answers the question: Who is telling the story?

This is important because who is telling the story has a lot to do with what gets told. Let’s take a look at the three different points of view and how you might use them in your writing.  They are first-person, second-person, and third person.

First Person Point of View

This is similar to a toddler’s vocabulary – I, me, mine, me, me, me, me ME!

When you tell a story using the pronouns I or we, you’re using first-person point of view. Some think that this is the most intimate perspective and is the friendliest towards the reader. When a story is told in the first person, the reader can feel like you’re their friend and that you’re confiding in them.

That’s what we aspire to, isn’t it?

 We certainly strive for intimacy with the reader, but using first-person point-of-view can give rise to a couple of problems:

1.  You talk about yourself so much that you sound like a narcissist

2.  You fall prey to telling the reader everything instead of showing them

For example: “ I did this and then I did that, and then I went here, and then I bought that, and now it’s mine, and this was my problem… blah, blah, blah. Whopoint of view wants to hear that?

 Well, I don’t and neither do your readers. Your readers want to hear your story, but if you take that approach, you’ll lose them for sure. Your job is to deliver your audience to the purpose of your book, and if they get sick of you halfway through, you’ll never accomplish that. 

 It’s actually simple to fix that. You don’t tell the reader what happened or what you did, you show them! Write your story in scenes where the reader sees what you saw, hears what you heard, smells what you smelled, and then feels what you felt. The reader experiences your emotion and becomes bonded to you through that shared experience.

Second Person Point of View

This POV uses the pronouns you, your, and yours.

The second person point of view addresses the reader and makes direct comments to them. This point of view is rare, but when it’s used, the reader snaps to attention because the writer is speaking directly to them.

Here’s an example: “If you are planning a low-budget wedding, then use paper products at the reception.”

OR

 “If you’re like me and are tired of struggling to make ends meet, then sell everything you haven’t used in the past year and pocket the cash.”

Before you get all excited about speaking directly to your readers and capturing their attention, let me offer a word of caution. Whenever you tell someone what to do, it can sound rather preachy, like you know it all and the reader knows nothing. No one likes to be told what to do, and not many appreciate the “you should” approach.

It’s far easier to influence the reader by showing them what you did. When you tell them what to do, it can cause them to resist you and your message. Respect your readers. Every time they turn the page, they make a choice to either continue with you or to drop off the path. Lead them along the path, and they will follow. Force them and they may jump ship.

Third Person Point of View

The third person point-of-view is a he said/she said narrative, and the associated pronouns are he, she, and they. The story is still being told from the perspective of an outsider looking at the action. This point-of-view is for when the story isn’t about you.

If you’re writing a biography about Abraham Lincoln, you might write something like this:

 “When he was twelve years old, Lincoln was growing into what would eventually become his long, lanky frame.”

In third person, you would use the pronoun “he.” If you wrote the same passage in first person, it wouldn’t make any sense. In first-person, it would say “When I was twelve years old, I was growing into what would eventually become my long, lanky frame.”  That wouldn’t make sense if you were writing a biography about Lincoln.

If you’re writing your own story, it doesn’t make any sense to write it in third person. But if you’re telling a story about someone else, then third person is appropriate.

Pick and Stick

The trick is to pick a point of view and stick with it, which is challenging for many new writers. If you’re writing in first person, stick with first person, if you’re writing in second person, stick with second person, etc.

If you shift the point of view, it confuses the reader and dilutes your message, which is a common mistake that new writers make. Learn this technique and you’ll keep your readers engaged!

 

 

 

 

 

 


  • 0

Nonfiction Writing Technique: Psychological Distance

Tags : 

There’s a concept in writing called psychological distance, and good writers know how to use it.  For those of you who studied psychology, you may remember the construal level theory in social psychology, which classifies your thoughts as either abstract or concrete.

It’s a bit of a slippery concept and not that easy to define. It’s like trying to describe the word “intimacy.” Hard to pin down, but you know it when you feel it, don’t you?  Or better yet, you know it when you DON’T feel it.

If something feels very close to you, you tend to think about it in concrete terms. If something feels far, you usually think about it in a more abstract way. And that’s what we’re talking about here – whether something or someone in your writing feels close or far away.

Your readers must feel close enough to trust you. So how do you bring your readers close, how do you decrease the psychological distance between you and them? You simply make sure that your readers see the person or object in concrete terms.

Take strawberries, for example. If you had a bowl of fresh strawberries in front of you, you’d see their color, size and texture. You’d notice their ruby red flesh psychological distanceimprinted with tiny golden seeds, their bright green crown, and perhaps a stem. You might smell the sweetness of the ripe fruit and start salivating at the thought of eating one.

These are all concrete observations.

On the other hand, if you thought about strawberries in an abstract manner, you might picture a tiny part of the produce section of a massive grocery store, stacked with a few rows of something red in cardboard containers.   

To decrease psychological distance, you pull your reader in, you zoom in on your scene like a photographer would when staging a close-up shot.

Here are some tools you can use to decrease psychological distance:

  • Sensory language – use more than one sense in describing a scene
  • Use common language that doesn’t call attention to itself, mainly short, everyday words, and uncomplicated sentences
  • Showing the viewpoint character’s feelings (SHOW don’t tell)
  • Show the character react in a less-than-perfect, human way
    (eg s/he can get annoyed, feel cranky, act selfish… s/he’s not always a Hero, any more than real heroes are)
  • Use quick paced dialog. Dialog makes you feel part of the conversation and lets you get close enough to participate in the action

 

When you pull the reader in close and let them see the details, you have closed that psychological distance and will hold the reader’s rapt attention. In turn, they will want to keep reading!

 


  • 0

If You Want to Write a Good Book-Make Time To Read

Tags : 

Writing is so much more than putting words on paper or typing them onto a screen. If you want to be a truly great writer, you’ll need to work at improving your craft through practice, research, and, of course, reading. You might think an online writing coach would only assign writing exercises as homework, but reading a book could just as easily be a worthwhile assignment.

Online writing coach recommends reading to improve writing

Make time to read

We are all busy and finding time to write can be difficult enough, but that doesn’t mean you should let your reading pile stack up. When you are feeling stressed and crunched for time, reading can actually be the key to re-centering yourself. Studies show that just thirty minutes of dedicated reading time will do more to reduce stress levels than more traditional methods such as going for a walk or having a calming cup of tea. Any online writing coach will tell you that writing while stressed rarely results in quality content. If your writing is starting to feel forced or you find yourself with a bad case of writer’s block, pick up a book and unwind a little.
Set aside 30 minutes of each day to read a good book. It can be during your lunch break, right before bed, or even first thing in the morning. It may seem impossible to squeeze 30 minutes of reading into your busy schedule, but if you want to improve as a writer, you need to make the time to read.

Active readers have more diverse styles and vocabularies

Who needs a thesaurus when you have a good book? When you read a book you are exposed to new words that you either comprehend through context or will perhaps be compelled to investigate further. Whether you make the conscious choice to absorb the words, chances are you will eventually incorporate them into your speech or writing.

Great writers read to see what works and what doesn’t work. A good online writing coach will stress the importance of exposing yourself to different voices and a variety of writing styles. Avid readers are constantly exposed to fresh voices and interesting subject matter that can open their minds up to new ideas which can be implemented in their own writing. A great book can influence your writing style, inspire you to try new things, and kick start your desire to write. If you do not continue to read new material, you will have a hard time improving your own writing skills.

Read outside of your genre

While it’s useful to read books within your own genre to get a sense of what other writers are doing, you should also diversify your reading list. Nonfiction writers do not have to stick to nonfiction books! In fact, reading novels can help cultivate creativity and even stir up memories of personal experiences. It’s very important to read books both for work and for pleasure. In fact, this Stanford study shows that a different area of the brain is activated when you read for leisure than when you read as if studying for an exam.

If you hire me as your online writing coach, I can guarantee you that I will recommend adding designated reading time into your daily schedule. Good readers make great writers, and I’m in the business of helping people become excellent writers!


  • 0
Create a crystallized message 2

Nonfiction Writing Technique: Crystallize

Tags : 

writing-bookWhen writing nonfiction, there are three steps that come before you actually sit down to write that will strengthen and clarify your message.

1. What’s the Purpose?

An article is not the same as a blog, is not the same as a web page. Each end product has its own purpose, and before you begin writing, you need to know the purpose of the piece.

You probably have a general idea of what you want to write, and I challenge you to distill it down to a Purpose Statement before you start. Your Purpose Statement should say, “The purpose of this (blog/article/book/web copy/marketing message) is to ___________________.

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

Example: The purpose of this article is to inspire others to create a larger legacy through their writing.

2. 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. What you write isn’t for everyone; it’s for a specific slice of readers.

Picture your perfect reader. What are they looking for? 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 this piece is ___________________.

Example: The audience for this article is entrepreneurs who want to create a larger legacy.

3. Why the Message?

Writers not only want to be read, they want to be remembered. If your content goes in their mind but doesn’t elicit a response, then you’ve wasted your time. It will be forgotten as quickly as it was read.

You must create some type of change in the reader. How will they be different as a result of what you wrote? What change, as slight as it may be, do you want to invoke in the reader? Do you want to move them to action? Give them hope? Make them smile? Consider the end result and write down how you want your readers to be affected.

Example: This article will inspire entrepreneurs to first crystallize and then expand their message.

Now pull the three components together into a single statement.

Example: The purpose of this article is to inspire entrepreneurs to first crystallize and then expand their message, so they can create a larger legacy.

Ready, set, write.

Now that you know your audience, you can write from their 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 the audience is seeking.

To crystallize your message, include specific content that achieves the stated purpose, nothing else. Readers absorb focused content, and everything you write should drive toward that message, that audience, that purpose, and that result.

Go BIGGER!

If you want a bigger audience, you need a bigger platform. With a little tweaking, you can extend your message and deliver it through multiple venues, like writing a book or delivering workshops, speaking engagements, and online courses. This isn’t simply an opportunity for you; it’s a service to others. When you share what you’ve learned, what you’ve developed, and what you’ve overcome, you can change the life or direction of someone else. Someone is looking for what’s hidden inside you. Whether your message is about your business, lessons you’ve learned, or about how to connect on a soul-level with your dog, if you have a passionate solution, someone else needs it!

Your legacy is about the lives you touch and the change you create. When you share what you know, what you’ve learned, and what you’ve overcome, you can make a lasting impact that extends far beyond yourself.

What about you? Are you ready to take the next step and learn how to crystallize your message in your book? Contact us today and we can help you take the next step!


  • 0

Nonfiction Writing Technique: Show Me The Details

Tags : 

I happen to reside in what is known as the “Show Me” state. When I first heard that slogan, I didn’t get it. Show me what? After a little research, I later found out the slogan was derived from Willard Duncan Vandiver, a Missouri Congressman, during a speech he gave in 1899. He said, “I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me” (Source).

In other words, Missourians are not gullible. Don’t just tell us. If you want us to believe, you need to show us the truth through facts and evidence.

It’s funny. My state’s slogan reminds me of one of the most basic directives in writing: Show, don’t tell! I’m certain you’ve heard that phrase before, so today I want to dive in and explore how to do that by using descriptive details in your writing.

Here’s a quote that I really love, because it sums up the difference between boring writing and really good writing:

sensory languageA couple of years ago, we wrote an article about the importance of sensory language. Sensory language is just what it sounds like – it’s the language of our five senses. When you use sensory language, you describe what you saw, felt, heard, tasted, and smelled.  You don’t write, “I was sad when my girlfriend left me.” You write, “When she told me she was leaving, she smiled as she whispered the words, ‘I’m leaving you.’ My throat clamped tight. I blinked hard, so I wouldn’t cry, but one hot tear fell and salted my upper lip.”

In this passage, you find four of the five senses: She told me–hearing; throat clamped tight and hot tear–feeling; she smiled–sight; she whispered–hearing; salted my upper lip–taste. The only sense not included is the sense of smell.

Sensory language punches up your writing and engages the reader. It breaks up the monotony and helps the reader to visualize the scene so they can experience it.

Sensory language IS the details.

When you add detail to your writing, you ARE like a painter.

Words are your paint, and you can use all the colors!

Writing in detail takes time, but not as much as you might think. There are a lot of resources for learning how to do this, but my favorite is the book Bird by Bird  by Anne Lamott. This is a classic in the world of writers and well worth having on your bookshelf. I want to share a couple of snippets from the book that have helped me in my own writing.

Anne Lamott encourages writers to look at their world in small sections, the size of a one-inch picture frame. “All I have to do is write down as much as I can see through a one-inch picture frame, she says. That sounds easy enough, doesn’t it?

And when you’re frenzied about how much you need to write, step back and look through that one-inch picture frame.

“All we’re going to do for now is to write a description of the river at sunrise, or the young child swimming in the pool at the club, or the first time the man sees the woman he will marry.”

That’s it. Construct the details of your book by looking through these small windows. And when you look through small windows, you see a lot more minutiae, like the curved crack etched in the sidewalk, or the one green pea that rolled under the table, or the rim of grease under his fingernails.

Details make the difference, so show them to your readers!

Ready to get started? Sign up for an online writing class and get your book out!

 

 


  • 0

Nonfiction Writing Technique: Pacing

Tags : 

This summer while you’re working on your book, it’s important to keep techniques like pacing top-of-mind. Never heard of the term? It’s OK! Keep reading to learn how mastering this format will make your readers eager for more and keep your book at the top of their mind!

The term PACING in literature refers to the rate at which your story progresses. Your job as a nonfiction writer is to move the story along without losing your audience. It’s important not to go too fast, and you certainly don’t want to go so slow that you bore them to death. When you understand how to control the pace of your story, you’ve grasped one of the most important skills in writing.  Keep the following in mind when you write, and you’ll be a master at story pacing in no time.

story pacing1. Length controls speed.

Short scenes and chapters, terse sentences, and snappy dialogue all contribute to a feeling of intensity and speed. This is probably the easiest way to control your pacing. As your story nears the tense scenes, make it a point to condense everything. Limit the length of your scenes to 500-800 words, cut your scenes short at important moments, and switch back and forth between points of view.

Fragments, sparse sentences, and short paragraphs quicken the pace. Crisp, punchy verbs, especially those with onomatopoeia (crash, lunge, sweep, scatter, ram, scavenge) also add to a quick pace. Invest in suggestive verbs to enliven descriptions, build action scenes, and milk the suspense.

Harsh consonant sounds such as those in words like claws, crash, kill, quake, and nag can push the reader ahead. Words with unpleasant associations can also ratchet up the speed: hiss, grunt, slither, smarmy, venomous, slaver, and wince. Energetic, active language is especially appropriate for building action scenes and suspense and for setting up drama and conflict.

A fast pace means you trim every sentence of unnecessary words. Eliminate prepositional phrases where you don’t need them: For example, “the walls of the cathedral” can be written as “the cathedral walls.” Finally, search your story for passive linking verbs and trade them in for active ones.

2. Vary Story Pacing

As important as the high-tension race-‘em-chase-‘em scenes are, it’s even more important to vary your pacing with slow, introspective scenes. Without the slow scenes, your characters and your readers won’t have a chance to catch their breaths. Even the most exciting scenes lose their intensity if they aren’t balanced with moments of deliberate quiet.

3. Pay Attention to Details to Build Momentum

In film, directors often show scenes in slow motion to indicate that something dramatic is happening or about to happen. One of the best ways writers can mimic this technique is to slow their own writing down by piling on the details. Let’s say one of your characters is shot. This is an important moment in the story, and you want the readers to feel its impact. You can do this when you take your time and describe every detail: the look on the gunman’s face as he fires, the recoil of the pistol, the flash of the barrel, the horror that chokes the victim, and finally the collision of the bullet.

4. Control Your Tell vs. Show Ratio

Although “showing” your audience the blow-by-blow details is key to engage the reader and make them feel the tension, sometimes the best way to hurtle them through a scene is to condense certain actions into “telling.” Perhaps you want to use that scene where your character is shot, but you don’t want to linger on it. You want to do a quick flyby, shock your readers, and plunge them into the action after the gunshot. Instead of taking the time to show the details, you can thrust the gunshot upon the reader simply by telling him/her that it happened.

5. Manipulate Sentence Structure

The mark of a professional writer is his ability to control the ebb and flow of his sentence structure. The most subtle way to influence your story pacing is through your sentence structure. The length of words, clauses, sentences, and paragraphs all contribute to the pacing.

Long=slow

Short=fast

When it’s time to write the intense scenes, cut back on the beautiful, long-winded passages and give it to your reader straight. Short sentences and snappy nouns and verbs convey urgency, whereas long, measured sentences offer moments of introspection and build-up.

To write like a professional, you must master the art of story pacing. This is critical to the success of your book. Once you perfect this writing technique, you will leave your readers eager for more. It takes practice, but the payoff is worth it in the end.

What about you? Do you need help writing a book? Have a manuscript but don’t know where to go from there? We can help. Contact us today to find out how

 


  • 0

Nonfiction Writing Techniques: Conflate

Tags : 

Do you know that word—conflate? Conflate means to combine or blend things, to fuse them into a single entity. It’s a helpful nonfiction technique where you merge several events or conversations or relationships and present it as one single event or conversation or relationship. It allows you to efficiently cover a span of time without boring your reader to death with the blow-by-blow details when all they really need are the pertinent points.

Do you know that word – Conflate? Conflate means to combine or blend things, to fuse them into a single entity.  It’s a helpful nonfiction technique where you merge several events or conversations or relationships and present it as one single event or conversation or relationship. It allows you efficiently to cover a span of time without boring your reader to death with the blow-by-blow details when all they really need are the pertinent points.

Spare Your Readers the Unnecessary Details

Let’s say, for example, that you had umpteen conversations with your spouse about adopting a child over the course of two years. In the first conversation, you might have talked about the possibility of adoption. And you talked about that for a number of months. Then you moved on and had numerous discussions about foreign vs. domestic adoption, older child vs. infant adoption, same race vs. other race adoption. These conversations took another several months. Finally, after two years, you made the decision to pursue a foreign adoption of an older child.

Do you need to drag your readers through all those conversations and decision points?  Maybe and maybe not. It depends upon the purpose of your book. Let’s conflate writing tipssay your book is about helping a foreign-born child assimilate into a family and culture that doesn’t look anything like them, and how to be your child’s advocate to overcome the unique obstacles they will face.

Does the reader really care about the two years you spent discussing adoption, or do they want to get to the purpose? My guess is they want the meat of your message, not your method of arrival.

So how do you handle those two years of discussion? Conflate it! Use dialog to convey all the pertinent information, and boil it down to a couple of conversations. Here’s how you might approach it:

“I think it’s time we face the truth. We probably aren’t going to give birth our own child, but maybe we’re not supposed to,” he said.

“It’s hard to give that up,” she said.

“I know, honey,” he said, “but we’re not getting any younger. What if we changed course while we still can? We’re not too old to adopt. I know the process takes time, who knows how long? If we want to have a child, I think we ought to consider this. To move in a new direction.”

“I don’t know. Maybe you’re right. It’s practically impossible to find a baby here, so I don’t know if that would be any better,” she said.

“What if we don’t look for a baby?” he said. “There are lots of children who need a loving home. Maybe we should think about rescuing a child, instead of searching for an infant.”

“One of the women in my support group showed me a picture of the orphans in Haiti,” she said. “They gathered them together after those earthquakes, but there aren’t enough adults to take care of them. One little girl – she looked about seven years old – had the brightest eyes, but her smile, it wasn’t right. Like she knew she had to smile for the picture, but only her mouth moved. She looked really, really sad.”

You can CONFLATE two years of the backstory of how this couple decided on a foreign adoption into a single conversation, and move the action forward.

Tell Your Story Like One of the Great Storytellers

Here’s another example of conflating. Let’s say you are a teacher, and you have had numerous students with a mild form of autism. Your book is about the socialization of the classroom, and over time, you’ve learned how to help these special needs students open up and relate to their classmates. Why not illustrate that through the eyes of ONE child, not four dozen children? Why not show the experience through a single set of eyes, give that child a representative name, and use a single character to demonstrate your teaching methods?

Does this seem dishonest to you? Insincere maybe? Well, if it does, then consider this. All the great teachers were story-tellers. Jesus, Aesop, Buddha, Indian Tribal Chiefs. They taught their people valuable lessons by telling stories. Were the characters in the stories real or did they conflate a number of people or people types into one representative character?

You tell me. Who was the Good Samaritan? Who was the Prodigal Son? Does it matter? Did you learn anything about human nature through Aesop’s fables, even though the characters were animals? Are the lessons any less valuable because you can’t attach them to a specific person?

When you conflate, you tighten your writing and move your story forward. It takes practice, but your story is worth it!

Ready to put this technique into your book? Contact us today and we can help you take the next step!


  • 0

Best Practices to Stay on Schedule When Writing a Book: Stick To Your Schedule and Clear Your Head

Tags : 

Earlier this year I talked about the importance of blocking out your time when writing a book and even provided an example of my schedule in a block format. But what good is having a schedule if you don’t stick to it? When it’s time to start, don’t make one more phone call; turn off your phone. If you want coffee, have it on your desk when you sit down at your appointed time. Don’t play games with yourself. If you’re tired, then do it tired. If you’re frustrated, then do it frustrated. If you feel stuck, then do it while feeling stuck.

Having said that, there could be something that stands in your way. It’s your brain. For example, it’s time to write, and you know what you’re going to write. But you just got home after a long commute, or you were balancing your checkbook five minutes earlier, or you dropped your kids off at school after a hectic morning. Your brain can’t simply shift from chaos to creative; it needs time to transition.

You’ve probably heard a lot about writer’s block and that some writers claim they can’t write a word because of it. That’s bunk. There’s no such thing as writer’s block. It simply means that a writer isn’t writing, and the only way to correct that is to write.

Writers Block Strategy—Clear Your Head

You can write, and you can write at any time and any place. I even contend that you can write your book in fifteen-minute increments if all you have is the back of a napkin and a pen. Your biggest challenge isn’t finding time to write; it’s clearing your head to do it.

Here’s a little exercise that will help you do that. Read it through a couple of times and then give it a try. It’s a simple guided meditation.

Close your eyes.

Take a deep breath. Breathe in . . . and out, in . . . and out.

Keep your eyes closed.

Picture a paperclip.

Fasten it in your mind.

Look at it, feel it, regard it from all angles.

Now let the words that describe that paperclip explode in your mind. Shiny, smooth, cold. Continue to find words that describe the paperclip for thirty seconds. Exhaust your vocabulary.

You know that paperclip. You know it from all angles. You see it before you.

Keeping your eyes closed, remember your first kiss.

Feel it, smell it, taste it, love it, hate it, welcome it, resist it.

Your kiss, that kiss, you remember it don’t you?

Now open your eyes, and for the next five minutes, write—in detail—about that moment of your first kiss.

If you followed that guidance, in less than one minute you were able to clear your mind by putting all your focus on a simple, inanimate object. Then you switched your focus to something else that was memorable, and you were prepared to write.

This technique can work for you every time you sit down to write. You don’t have to limit your item to a paperclip; any simple item will do. I like screwdrivers, coffee mugs, picture frames, staplers—whatever. The trick is to fully visualize the item and let the descriptive words pop. Then, when I turn my attention to what I need to write, I’m no longer thinking about email, budgets, employees, or pets. I’m fully focused on my subject matter. Try this exercise next time you sit down and write and get ready for the creative juices to flow!

What about you? Are you ready to take that step and start writing your book and put these strategies into action? Contact us today and we can help you take the next step!

 


  • 0

Extended Value of Working With The Book Professor

Tags : 

You got your story out of your head and onto paper. Your book is finally finished. Your finished book can now become the launchpad through which you deliver your message across multiple venues. When you follow our methodology to construct your book in chapter silos, you can take those chapters and repurpose them for articles, workshops, seminars, keynotes, online courses, video training, podcasts, etc. Exciting times!

But how will people know that your book is available? How will they find YOUR book amongst the masses? Writing your book is the first hurdle; getting others to notice it is the next!

Well, look no further. Through our partnership with the prestigious Smith Publicity, we are proud to offer Book Marketing Services for all of our clients. That’s the extended value of working with The Book Professor!

Get Attention for Your Book and Impact Sales

Learn one-on-one from book industry experts—on your schedule, and tailored to your genre and level of expertise—specific and actionable techniques to drive awareness to your book and author platform. Marketing your book can be overwhelming. These services are designed to take away the fear and put in the fun.

How It Works

 

Social Media Consultation Service Offerings-$325 each

Our packages are completely customized to your skill level and needs. For example, if you’re a social media beginner, one of our experts will work with you to create your platform from scratch and teach you the basic rules of engagement. If you are already well-versed on a social media platform, but would like to execute better, our advanced experts will custom-craft a plan to work with you to optimize your existing site, incorporate your book into your postings (without offending followers), decipher analytics, and/or understand potential advertising options.

Before your call, you complete an author questionnaire that gives your consultant time to research and tailor ideas specific to your book, genre, and goals. You will also receive educational handouts or “homework” before the call(s) to help ensure your session(s) are as jam-packed as possible. At the end of the service, you receive handouts to help you continue developing ideas and techniques.

If you or someone you know is interested in marketing their book, reach out to us and we will help make it happen!

 

 

 

 


Learn How to Write a Book