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Book Writing for Non-fiction – Setting up your manuscript hierarchy – Part 2

A drop of ink can make a million think

Part 2 – Setting up your manuscript

If you have already read Part 1, you will want to start to prepare a draft manuscript.

Having developed a skeleton manuscript in Part 1 including detailed writing of the first 4 sections, now we need to start to prep your manuscript to a more readable format.

Hierarchy

You need to consider your content in forms of an hierarchy. I’m going to use web terminology here as it is the easiest to refer to between software programs.

Heading 1

This will be used for your Chapter headings. Your chapters could be numbered or simply word based but in terms of your hierarchy you would keep this all as one style. If you can name this style, call it “Chapter Heading”.

If numbers feature in any of your Chapter headers, we would advise not numbering your chapters. For example, if your chapters go Intro-How to-Part 1 etc then labelling them Chapter 1 Intro-Chapter 3 Part 1 would become confusing. On the other hand, if your book is a linear format then we would recommend numbering the chapters to help maintain the readers connection with the content.

Heading 2

Dividing your chapters into manageable chunks for the reader is a great way of maintaining the reader’s engagement with your content. You could do this by using a Q&A format if it suits your subject, or use it to divide your chapter’s subject into its composite parts. It could be for an instruction book you form it out of “What do I do to get here”, “How do I do it” and “What have I done”, or it could be “Technique A”, “Technique B” and “When to use each technique”.

Heading 3

You would use Heading 3 as a title for a breakout box or a workbook section or similar – this can be a good way of re-iterating the content to the reader as well as bringing in deeper engagement. You could also use this header for captions for images and charts also, or to create steps in a How To.

Paragraph

This is your main text style for your content, and at this stage you will want to create a basic draft of your content. Moving forward you will want to create several character styles including bold and italics that will be used either for highlighting key phrases, or for emphasising words within a sentence.

In Part 3 – continuing your writing

In the next part we will be focussing on developing your manuscript for your remaining chapters.

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Book Writing for Non-fiction – Part 1

Write

This is our first post in our “How To” series, and focuses on the first stages of writing your non-fiction title.

Once you’ve decided to write your book, and after the initial brain storm phase, you will want to start focusing on how to structure your book. For a longer title, you will want to break your content down into chapters, but this tutorial will cover the initial stages of your book writing journey. Dividing your book’s content this way will help, not only with breaking down your writing into manageable chunks, but also will help when your book is transferred to electronic formats. For a shorter eBook or leaflet, it could be you break your book down into individual pages of content.

Planning and writing your first four sections

Preface

  • What is your experience in this field? – If you are writing in an area of new expertise, or if you feel the subject may impact negatively on your profession, you may choose to leave this section out.
  • What led to you writing this book?

Introduction

  • What is your book about? – summarise what you are going to say.
  • Who will find you book interesting and useful? – set out your audience and tone of writing.
  • What is your book going to say that no other title does? – why would someone buy THIS book?

Chapter 1: Getting Started

  • What is the starting position of your most basic reader?
  • Where do they need to get to to start using the book? – it could be your book is aimed at an advanced level, but you need to establish a common starting ground. Are there particular skills they need, additional material to cover a subject more in depth?
  • Step by step guide how to get there.

Chapter 2: First steps

  • What journey are you going to take the reader on?
  • How do they start implementing the first part of your “arc”?
  • What benefits will they see?
  • What help will they need to achieve this first step?

These questions will help you to form the content for your first four sections as well as establishing a “voice” for the book. Next you will need to consider additional content you may wish to include – images, charts, links to web content are all best considered at this early stage. Another key point for consideration is if you will be including snippets of information, highlighting key points or having some sort of interactive layout/worksheets.

Now you have a framework for your content, time to start fleshing it out into the book it will be. Consider bulleted and numbered lists – especially in the “Getting Started” section. It could be equipment lists or a brief overview of the points you are going to cover in the section. Could an image express an idea better than words alone? If you need prior knowledge to understand a point, where would you go to? And later on in the book, if you wanted to find out more on a discussed topic where would you go to?

In Part 2 – Setting up your manuscript

In developing the points above, you will want to start to prepare a draft manuscript. This will include chapter headings, key points, image references and at this stage you may have quotes and other relevant references you may wish to include. This will still be a long way before you are ready to hand us your manuscript. In our next How To, we discuss how your manuscript will develop from a skeleton script through to a workable manuscript. This will setup good habits ready for the next chapters of your book in Part 3.