In his book, Nobody wants to read your sh*t, author Steven Pressfield talks about how the make up of your book is the same whether you are writing a novel, a memoir, a play or a script. There needs to be a beginning, a middle and an end.
In terms of your writing, this means that you need a hook right at the start to keep the reader interested and reading. This doesn’t always mean that you begin in chronological order but it could be, in the case of a memoir for example, that you start when your life started to go south, and then you weave back to your beginnings.
Hooking the reader in is crucial so you want to make sure that what you are writing about grabs their attention or resonates with them to the point that they want to read on.
After building your momentum, you still have to keep up the pace in the middle of your book, expanding further on your story or what you want to say in more depth.
The ending has to summarize all that you have been saying and give some conclusion as well as some sense of where this is all going so the reader moves forward.
This power of three is what works in speech writing too.
I often encourage writers to think of their three key messages, and then under each message list the different stories they could share to illustrate the point. This keeps you honest and on track in writing your book, as you stay consistent and don’t get off topic.
You may also want to check in part way through your book. Have your messages changed? Sometimes when you drill down you discover a new message that you hadn’t considered before, one that ties in with your ending and where you want to take your book, and your reader.
Such an evolution is fine as it shows that you are getting more entrenched with your topic, and hopefully giving more thought on the end outcome. It is good to ask yourself where do you want to leave the reader at the end? What do you want them to do as a result of reading your book? Once you have answered those questions, you may be clearer on what you need to write in order for that to happen.
At Full Circle Publishing, we’ve developed a “Book at a Glance” template which helps keep you focused and on track. If you would like a copy, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org