So You’ve Got a Story, Now What?

 Do you have a skill, a story, a memoir, or message burning inside you —but you’re unsure how to get it into print?

Inspira Literary Solutions provides authors with every service necessary along the way to publication, from book idea to book-in-hand. Our a la carte menu includes:

Concept Coaching – before you even start your non-fiction manuscript, concept coaching with Inspira will help you establish:

  • an overall thesis for your book
  • a clearly-defined targeted reader and a strong benefit for that reader
  • a workable structure and chapter outline
  • a sample chapter that contains all key chapter elements (intro, thesis, cohesive sub-sections, transitions, conclusion) that you will use for a template to rework the other chapters

Manuscript Review and Evaluation – many would-be authors want to know, is my manuscript publishable? Our manuscript review of your fiction or non-fiction manuscript will provide you with concrete feedback on the quality of your writing craft, subject/plot organization, character development (if fiction), and logic and flow of your ideas, and will provide specific recommendations for editing and publishing.

Manuscript Development – we can work with you as you write your book—chapter by chapter, every step of the way providing feedback, accountability, and refining to help you complete your manuscript and grow as a writer along the way.

Editingdevelopmental, copy editing, and line editing

Designcover and interior layout, illustrations, and graphics

Self-publishing – from obtaining your ISBN to registering your copyright to getting your book on Amazon and into the databases of major retailers, and everything in between—we provide a complete menu of services to help you get your book “from idea in head to book in hand”!

Print project management – whether you want to print 10 copies of your book or 10,000, we can direct you to the best value printer for your needs. Breathe easy; we can manage the whole process for you—or, if you prefer, we can help you get set up to easily manage the process yourself.

Traditional publishing – for those seeking traditional publishing, we provide traditional editorial services and assistance with book proposal development.

Check out our portfolio to see the dozens of books we’ve helped develop. Then contact Inspira today for a complimentary consultation—and start the journey of bringing your message or story to the world!

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Providing Background for Your Reader: Keep Exposition Light

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We have all likely been in conferences, churches, or classrooms where the speaker felt it necessary to give a 30-minute historic preamble before making his main point. Maybe this has happened to you: as an audience member, you found yourself repeatedly checking your watch. You were sure the point could have been made just as well without the entire history of the Greco-Roman empire. You lost interest because the speaker took too long setting up his premise, and never got to the actual point. Don’t let this happen with your readers!

What we’re talking about here is narrative exposition, which is an important part of every book, whether short or long, fiction or non-fiction. For example, it might include information about the setting, introductory information to your topic, historical context, or a character’s backstory. Exposition sets the stage and builds the foundation for the entire book. Without it, readers would be lost. However, if a book is too exposition heavy, the readers will lose interest. Usually, most of a book’s exposition takes place within the first few chapters of the novel, although there are several alternative narrative structures as well!

As a non-fiction author, you are probably writing a book because you are an expert in your field. You know about your subject. Perhaps you have been in the industry for years or you have spent hours perfecting a hobby about which you are writing. You may want to begin by expounding on the problem before you give your solution. However, unless you are writing a scholarly thesis for a niche audience, you will need to first draw in your reader. Break up the research by providing antidotes or personal thoughts. Once the reader is hooked on your idea, he or she will be willing walk with you as you make your points; just don’t dump them on the reader in the first few chapters.

If you are writing a novel, you have probably gone to great lengths to develop your character and your setting. However, in order to transfer your passion to your reader, you cannot drown them. This is not to say you cannot include all the necessary details, but you must be very aware of how you organize and present your material. For example, don’t introduce a character like this:

John stooped when he walked into the room. He was 6’3″ with broad shoulders and a thick neck. He was 46 and had black hair that swept over his black eyes. John was used to stooping because he had grown up in small village in . . .

This is heavy exposition; it feels like the author is going through a checklist of necessary expeditionary points. It also makes for boring reading! All this information may be important, but it can be spread out and embedded more naturally into the text. Light exposition feels more natural. When we first meet someone, we don’t need to know their exact height and complete childhood background. That can come later.

The bottom line is that overly heavy exposition takes away from a narrative. It bogs down the reader at a critical time when you want to be grabbing his or her interest. If you need expositional information, make sure to only give what is necessary; if there are ways to spread it out throughout the novel, do it.

Be willing to admit that the reader does not need to know all that you know. Your years of preparation and research will help you write, but do not need to be included in your book. Ease of reading and quality of narrative will always trump superfluous information and tangents. (Who knows, perhaps that information would be perfect for book number two!)

This post written by Kerry Wade, Assistant Editor.

Mapping Your Manuscript

“When most people think of an ‘editor,’ they generally think about someone who weeds out all the bad grammar, misspelled words, and typos from a manuscript.  That is only partially true. This is copy editing. A good copy editor knows the rules of grammar and uses them scrupulously to polish your manuscript.

developmental editor, on the other hand, reads a manuscript and asks good questions. She (or he) gets at the heart of your book to make sure it has all the right components, and that it flows seamlessly and logically from start to finish.” (Excerpted from our blog, “Why Your Book Needs a Developmental Editor”

Editors will often begin by mapping out a book in order to see the whole book at a glance. This simply means going through the book and writing the titles of every chapter, heading, and subheading and how many words are in each section. For example:

Chapter 1: Title
Heading 1

200 words
Heading 2
6000 words
Subheading
300 words
Subheading
287 words
Subheading
350 words
Heading 3
3000 words

Chapter 2: Title
4000 words

Chapter 3: Title
500 words
Heading 1
200 words

This shows the editor at a glance, “Wow, Chapter One has multiple headings and subheadings and Chapter Two has none! Why? Could Chapter One be split into more topics? Why is Chapter One so long?”ams-k-m_road_intersections

These kinds of observations can help you, the author, know where you needs to work on consistency and organization. Chapters should be relatively the same length; an extremely long or short chapter must be a purposeful stylistic choice.

However, mapping out a book is not just about evening out the word count. This at-a-glance technique allows you to look at how your ideas build on one another and ensure your thoughts flow smoothly from chapter to chapter.

Putting away the actual words of the story and looking at the novel in this condensed structure allows you to step back and gain a new perspective. When an artist is working on a painting, he or she will often hold the painting up to a mirror. The reversed image allows the painter to gain a new perspective and look at composition rather than details.

As an author, you can map out your own manuscript. Let yourself experiment. What would happen if you shuffled around some chapters? Take away the emotion connected to your writing and allow your manuscript to be malleable. Is this map the fastest route? Does it build the most suspense? Is this detour unnecessary? Mapping out your book allows you to ask the important developmental questions and easily move things around. You’d be surprised at how helpful this tool is!

While you are writing, make sure you are always pulling back to get the big picture. Whether you use this tool or your own method of organization, it is important to take your reader on the best journey possible. Many books have great ideas and compelling story arcs, but they take meandering roads full of detours. Be open to redrawing the map of your book, it might just be the thing that turns a great idea into a great book!

Post written by Kerry Wade, Assistant Editor

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Why Attend a Writing Workshop?

 

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As a writer, or someone who is interested in writing, you have probably seen advertisements (like our own!) for writing workshops. You may be wondering: What is a writing workshop? What do you get out of it? Why go to a writing workshop?

Writing workshops can be anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks, and serve to support authors on their journey toward writing and publishing a book. They provide a variety of information, support, consultation, feedback, encouragement, and networking.

This is usually very different from a writing class. A writing class is prescriptive, teaching writing techniques and styles within one or a variety of genres. Generally, the writing exercises are assigned according to the topic. The beauty of writing workshops are they are tailored to YOUR writing. You get to work on your book, at whatever stage it is in. You will received feedback and input from professionals in the writing and publishing industry that will give you the next steps you need to take to get your book where you want it to go.

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There are a number of components to writing a book and getting it published. Many authors who come to Inspira or attend our workshops assume that the right steps to creating a book are A) write the book, B) get feedback, C) make corrections and work towards publication. However, for most people, step B comes WAY too late.

For example, if a novel writer discovers after completing the first draft that a character is not believable, she may have to go back to square one and rewrite the entire book. Or a business writer comes to a workshop and realizes he should have been marketing his book during the entire year he has been writing it. A writing workshop gives you a recipe for writing, tailored to you, so you can know what’s ahead, and make sure your writing process is the most productive and highest quality it can be.

Writing workshops offer a short and inexpensive (when you consider both the cost of editing and hours spent re-working) boost to your writing. They can be invaluable for new and seasoned writers alike. Here are some more reasons why:

Guidance and Information: There is much you can learn from reading books and online sources, but a good facilitator can direct you to areas you need to focus on and answer your specific questions. At Inspira, we are experienced in the worlds of editing and publishing and so we are able to offer advice directing from the field.

Networking: Workshops are an excellent place to network with fellow writers, editors, publishers, and others. Never underestimate the power of networking.

Motivation and Inspiration: Writing can be a long and lonely progress. And, it’s not only the writing, but the marketing, networking, agent searching, and everything else that comes with it. A good workshop will remind you why you started, encourage you to continues, and give you the know-how to do so. Ideally, you should leave a workshop feeling inspired to finish your book!

If you are a writer, don’t sell yourself short. Get the tools you need (as soon as possible) to make your writing a success. Build community and seek out professionals who can guide you. Workshops are a great way to dip your foot into the water. Perhaps you just have an idea for a book; a workshop is the perfect place to learn how to begin and succeed. Perhaps you are part way through writing and feel in a rut; get encouragement and tips to keep going! Or maybe you have finished a book but want to re-work it yourself before sending it to an editor. We cannot stress this enough: don’t edit in the dark. You don’t want to spend hours and hours reworking your book without knowing the full scope of what the reworking should look like.

If we have convinced you of the importance of writing workshops, and you are in the Seattle/Tacoma area, we hope you’ll sign up for our upcoming one-day workshop on January 28th!  We think this workshop is the perfect place to kickstart your book. After spending years working with authors and finding ourselves repeating the same information over and over, we decided to condense this information and offer it to aspiring authors to help them in their journeys to writing.

We hope to see you there!

You can register for Inspira’s one-day workshop “So You’ve Got a Story, Now What?” by accessing our Facebook Event page or emailing Kerry@inspiralit.com.

Alternative Narrative Stuctures

If you have ever watched a crime show or read a mystery novel, you have probably experienced a story that begins in medias res. The phrase literally means “into the middle of things” and in literature refers to a narrative that begins in the middle of the story. This plot structure is wonderful for grabbing the reader’s attention and bypassing exposition, and works best with action-heavy narratives.

Many thriller TV shows use this method. The episode begins with action, the crime is taking place! Then the story flashes backward to before the crime, provides background information, and then moves forward as the detective tries to solve the case.

This technique is commonly used in best sellers because it creates an immediate hook. The readers are drawn ‘max. The readers are invested in the climax from the beginning and now must see what led to this point and what happens after.

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Photo courtesy of TVtropes.org

Another plus to in medias res is that it forces the author to be creative with exposition. Exposition is necessary, but can often be dull and obvious. When the first few chapters of a book are filled with paragraphs of exposition or unrealistic dialogue for the soul purpose of giving information, the reader is easily bored. Beginning with the climax forces the writer to either use flashbacks, creative dialogue, or nonlinear narrative. This helps liven up necessary exposition, plus, the readers are already hooked!

Create Suspense by Giving Away the Ending

Another way to secure the reader’s interest is to ask the question, “How is this going to happen?” rather than, “What is going to happen?” Often, novels will gear up for a surprise ending such as the death of the main character. However, sometimes it creates more suspense to tell the reader what is going to happen and leave the reader wondering how.

I recently read a book that began with the main character telling the reader that he kills his best friend. However, as I got to know the characters I could not image why he would do such a thing. By giving away the ending, the author created suspense because the whole time I was looking for clues and any indications towards the inevitable ending.

While these two narrative techniques do not work for every novel, they are a good reminder for writers to be creative with their narratives. Plan the novel out linearly—from exposition, to climax, to resolution—then play around with different ways to build suspense and engage the reader. In medias res might not work for your novel, but it may give you some ideas for how to break up exposition and create inciting action. Are there snippets of information you can feed your reader to increase suspense? Could you make use of flashbacks or flash-forwards? Don’t be afraid to try something new; intriguing narratives make for good reading!

This post written by Assistant Editor Kerry Wade.

Losing Steam? How to Keep the Momentum of a Project Going

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Back in June, we hosted a workshop entitled “So You Have a Story, Now What?” in which we covered the steps to planning, starting, and finishing a book. It was one of those gorgeous Pacific Northwest summer days where the water on the Sound is still and dreamy and the sky is full of color—a great day and an inspiring environment, for sure. At the end of the workshop, participants wrote out their goals of what they would write about, how they would space out their writing, and when they would finish. I, like our participants, hit the ground running. However, today, five months later, it is much less of a run and more of a slow jaunt from the couch to the kitchen.

Losing steam is a common phenomenon. It happens with all sorts of long projects, whether it is a commitment to write a blog every two weeks, posting every day on your social media, or writing a book. The beginning stages and the finishing stages of a project are fun, but the daily grind is not always exciting. In fact, it can even be boring. This is dangerous because if you are bored and stuck in a rut, often the work you are producing is boring and stuck in a rut. If you are not inspired by your own work, you are more likely to quit and run out of steam.

One of the main reasons people lose steam is because they lose sight of their vision and start second-guessing themselves. I have just spent six months on this project and it’s not even that good of an idea. What was I thinking? No one wants to read this book! It’s not turning out exactly how I envisioned. Sometimes old vision is cast out of the way for new vision. This book isn’t a good idea anymore; I have an even better idea. In fact, I’ve been working on this project for a year and I’ve changed. I’m a different person and therefore I need to write a different book. And so, your life gets filled with half finished products.

Here are some tips to get you out of the mid-book slump:

Have a deadline. A book has a natural deadline. You must finish it so it can get it edited, printed, and onto shelves. There are going to be days, weeks, and or even months, where you are going to be running on low steam. The important thing is to stick to your writing goals and deadlines. Sit down at the desk and type whether you want to or not. (Read our blogs “What Gets Scheduled Is What Gets Done” and “8 Steps to creating Your Perfect Writing Environment.” 

However, other projects, such a blog, newsletters, or social media, are ongoing. With no end in sight, they can become mundane or repetitive. Set deadlines for yourself to revamp your process. Every six months, completely change your style, update your branding, or try something new. Create series that you can start and finish so your content always feels fresh.

Don’t be a perfectionist. If you feel like the thing you are working on right now is mediocre, it is easy to imagine that the next project will be better. Remember that a finished product in hand is better than a perfect project still in your head. Forget the idea of writing a perfect book (which, by the way, does not exist), and cling to the idea of getting better with each project.

Complete your goals (it’s addictive). You may have heard this before, it’s true: set small goals you can achieve along the way. Celebrate when you achieve those goals. As a writer, there is nothing more important than finishing your first book. Holding your book, fresh off the press, is one of the best feelings. Even if you’re not 100% excited about the book, now that one is finished, you will know the process and can write the next one.

Be accountable. Meet with a good friend, a writing coach, or an editor who will keep you on track. You can also publicly post your process. Many authors and artists do “100-Day Projects” where they post a photo of themselves writing or drawing for 100 days. This gives not only builds your online presence, but creates accountability.

Remind yourself why you started. Why are you writing this book? Who are you writing this book for? Most of our authors have a message they want to tell. We encourage our authors to have a specific person they are writing to. Imagine that person and remind yourself why you are writing to him or her. Get back into the field. If you are writing about at-risk teens but have spent the past month behind a desk writing, spend a day with the kids. If you are writing a book about an engineering process, go build something. Recreate the excitement you had when you began writing.

Be around creative people. Surround yourself with go-getters. When you see and talk with others who are working hard to achieve their goals, they can be an inspiration to you. If everyone around you is complacent, it will take a lot of energy to put your nose to the grindstone. But if you surround yourself with people of vision who work hard, you can ride off their momentum.

The goal is to enjoy your project and ride the train of vision and excitement all the way to the end. If you are feeling discouraged or worn down, take some time to recast your vision. Then get back to writing and finish your book!

This post written by Kerry Wade, Assistant Editor.

Be an Active In-Person Networker

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“Who me? A networker?” you ask. Yes, you. But don’t let that overwhelm you. It’s not at all complicated to “network”—and it might come even more naturally to you than you think.

In today’s world, there is a myriad of ways to network online (think social media), and this is really important; however, it is just as important to network offline. Here at Inspira, while we have clients from far off places like Indonesia and England, Arkansas and Arizona, most of our clients are from the Pacific Northwest. And, the majority of our clients heard about our company through our in-person networking or through word of mouth. Many of our authors have found the same to be true. Their biggest book deals or speaking engagements have happened because they were able to meet someone face-to-face and share their passion.

Networking is all about exchanging information and developing contacts with the end goal of furthering your career, gaining clients for your business, or spreading the word about your book. When you are able to shake someone’s hand, you become more than just a name in a contact list; you become a face and a story. You can connect over the fact that your sons go to the same school or you both disliked the last conference speaker. More importantly, they are able to see your passion and better understand where the passion comes from.

When having a personal conversation, you are also able to tailor you message to your audience. You don’t have to speak in generalizations; instead, you can specifically say why your project would be beneficial to them.

Finally, in-person networking makes you memorable. You took up space in someone’s life and left an impression (hopefully a good one!). So, when the time comes and they are looking for a book in your specific subject, they will remember your conversation and buy yours!

  1. Always be prepared. You never know when you’ll meet a good networking connection. It could be at a big conference, but it could also be at the hairdresser or at a local football game. Be ready to talk about your book at any moment. If you haven’t already, memorize a 30-second “elevator pitch.” This can especially help if you are an introvert who gets nervous when you want to impress someone or articulate a concise idea. (Smelling nice and dressing professionally never hurts either!)
  1. Always carry business cards. Don’t make people rely on their memory; give them a tangible reminder of how they can contact you and get more information.
  1. Think local. People are often very willing to support local business and authors. Develop a relationship with your local media, including radio, newspaper, and TV connections. Talk to your local library and offer to host a reading or a workshop.
  1. Be personable. Don’t dismiss the power of a solid handshake and good eye contact. You are your best marketing tool, so don’t sell yourself short. Share your passion, and people will catch hold of your vision.

“Sometimes, idealistic people are put off by the whole business of networking as something tainted by flattery and the pursuit of selfish advantage. But virtue in obscurity is rewarded only in Heaven. To succeed in this world you have to be known to people.” ~Sonia Sotomayer

Writing Well-Organized Chapters

I love bulletins. Whenever I go to an event I make sure to grab one at the door so I can meticulously follow along as the event progresses. At choir concerts, I keep my finger on the current song, and make sure I know what song is coming next. Same with the theater. You better believe I always know what act we are in.

I don’t do this because I am bored or distracted, rather because I love to know what is coming up. It gives me a sense of security because I know exactly what I have gotten myself into and how to prepare. Oh! This show is three hours long with five acts? Let me go to the bathroom now!

Think of the first few paragraphs of a chapter as the usher standing outside the theater doors. He is there to welcome people in, hand out the bulletin, and help people find their seats. Once the audience is comfortably settled in to their seats, they start to peruse the bulletin. If they anticipate they’re going to be there awhile, the audience wants to know what they’re in for.

The same is true with writing. When readers start a chapter of your book, they want to know what they’re in for. Introduce your topic to your reader and then tell them how you are going to say it. This shows your reader you are organized and allows them to prepare. Think of these statements as signposts along the road of your writing: “Next chapter three examples ahead!”

Coast_to_coast_signpost_Rogan's_Seat.jpgWriters often leave out these signposts because they are afraid of sounding pedantic, robotic, or repetitive. However, these signposts do not need to lengthy; they can be a short sentence or two, or even a numbered list. Instead of detracting from your writing, a signpost will show structure, organization, and reinforce your ideas. In fact, far from being impersonal, these signposts help your reader feel like you are right beside them, walking them through your writing.

Another reason writers leave out signposts is because their writing isn’t well-organized and therefore they cannot explain the structure in advance. A clear signpost can help the writer say on track as much as the reader!

So, before you write next chapter of your book, make sure your readers know what they are getting themselves into! (Just in case they need to take a bathroom break first!)

This post was written by Kerry Wade, Assistant Editor. 

Traditional vs. Self-Publishing: What’s Best for Your Book?

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If you hang around Inspira long enough, you’ll hear our slogan: “from book-in-head to book-in-hand.” Many of our authors walk into our office with a clear book head, but are unclear about which path to take to actually get the book into their hands.

Part of what we do  is help authors decide what’s best for their book and their book’s target audience: traditional publishing or self publishing. There is no overall best way to publish; there is only the best way to publish your specific book in order to reach your specific audience. Sometimes that means traditional publishing, in which case we will help you shop it out to literary agents. Other times (more often than not) our role is to help you self publish a quality project you can then market.

If you are an author considering publication, two big questions to ask are: How much control do you want over your project? And how much risk do you want to shoulder? Your answers will be important drivers toward either traditional or self publishing.

What Does Traditional Publishing Look Like?

  1. You send out your manuscript or manuscript sample (one to three chapters) and book proposal to literary agents. Once an agent is secured, he or she will be your advocate to help you find and communicate with a publisher.
  2. Your agent will help you secure a publisher and copyright contract as well as negotiate royalties (how much you will be paid).
  3. After that, your book will be in the hands of publisher. The publishing company handles editing, titling, design, printing, marketing, and distribution. You will be paid royalties, and possibly an advance, depending on your contract.

Pros of Traditional Publishing

  • expertise in book editing, production, marketing, and publicity
  • publisher shoulders the risk
  • physical bookstore distribution
  • nearly always assures chance of media coverage and reviews

Cons of Traditional Publishing

  • everything is contract-based (so read it over carefully!)
  • limited control over design and editing (they choose the cover, the title, and may even ask you to rework the book
  • publisher owns the rights to your book
  • unless the book is a big seller (not typical), royalties are generally small
  • process typically takes 18 months to two years

What Does Self Publishing Look Like?

  1. The author retains complete control over the publishing process, hiring outside help for editorial and design work (Inspira), and printing.
  2. If the author utilizes a distributor or print-on-demand printer, those companies will print and ship the books on demand; however, the books will not likely be stocked in stores.
  3. The author is in charge of all marketing, publicizing, distribution, fulfillment, and website management.


Pros of Self Publishing

  • greater control of content and timeline of the project
  • maximum earnings; author gets highest possible percentage of sales
  • author is not bound to a publisher or distributer and retains all rights to his or her work

Cons of Self Publishing

  • author shoulders all risk; there is a possibility the book will have no commercial viability
  • the book may be available through bookstores, but unless well-marketed, is rarely ever physically distributed/stocked
  • author may have more work to do, i.e., managing printing, marketing, and distribution/fulfillment

Over the past decade, self publishing has because a viable and competitive industry with self published books often reaching The New York Times best seller list. While self publishing may sometimes get a bad rap because there is no quality control, you (working alongside companies like Inspira) get to set the quality of your project!

Do You Want to Learn More?
Attend our workshop, “Steps to Publishing Your Manuscript,” happening Sept. 24th, 2016, 9 am to 3 pm in Gig Harbor, Washington.  Learn hands-on from our team how to navigate the publishing process (traditional or self) and walk away with a plan in hand for your manuscript! Includes a delicious lunch and a beautiful waterfront location.

Don’t miss out our BUY ONE GET ONE FREE competition happening THIS WEEK! Winner will be announced Friday, Sept. 16th!

Organizing Your Book

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So, you’re writing a book Or, you want to write a book. That means you just have to sit down and get to it, right? Wrong.

To write a book as efficiently as possible—whether fiction or non-fiction–you need to start by organizing your ideas. As one writer’s blog describes it, “Starting to write a book without a content plan is an invitation to false starts and wasted effort. It’s as foolish as trying to drive from New Hampshire to San Diego without a road map, intending to navigate entirely by intuition. You may end up there, but you may have wasted a lot of time (and gasoline) on unnecessary detours and dead ends.”

That doesn’t mean you have to know exactly what you’re going to write. But you do need a basic structure to guide you, such us:

Linear vs. Non-Linear

A compelling book goes from point A to point B. For information-driven narratives (i.e., non-fiction) Point A is unknowing and Point B is knowing. For character-driven narratives (fiction), Point A is an introduction to the character (or characters) or the beginning of a journey. Point B is character growth or the final steps of the journey. Depending on the type of book you are writing, you may want to go straight to Point B or you may want to take some twists and turns along the way.

Information Driven Narratives

The key to a non-fiction, information driven book is logical organization. You want to help your reader receive and understand the information you are trying to convey. No matter where you are in the writing process, it is a good idea to a good look at how your book is organized.

Think of organizing an information-driven book like organizing a messy, overstuffed closet. The first thing you want to do is put your content into baskets. All the hats go in one basket; scarves go in another. These baskets are your chapters.

Now, look at the size (word count) of each basket. Is the t-shirt basket overflowing but shorts basket almost empty? Are there chapters that you need to, sadly, ax out of the book? Are there others you can combine?

It’s time to re-arrange. The order of the baskets should help readers increase their knowledge of the content. The chapters could be organized chronologically or thematically. Some chapters will be natural pre-requisites and others you can place in the text at your discretion.

Tip: If you are not a linear/organizational thinker, ask one to help you. He or she can listen to your ideas and hear the structure in your thoughts, and help you organize them.

Character Driven Narratives

A compelling character-driven narrative does not go, as logically as possible, from Point A to Point B (unless you are writing a comprehensive, fact-driven biography. )If so, I would argue your definition of “compelling.”) Consider these different methods of narrative organization:

Fichtean Curve

This curve represents traditional plot structure (exposition—rising action—climax—falling action—resolution) This organizational method is great way to build suspense in your story so your reader keeps turning the pages all the way until the end. The dips in the curve represent all the small crises that happen to your character. You don’t want it to be an easy hike from Point A to Point B; create some side-quests and hardships along the way.

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(Image from: http://www.shesnovel.com/blog/3-awesome-plot-structures-for-building-bestsellers This is a great resource on Fichtean Curves and other plot structures.)

In Media Res: In medias res is Latin for “into the middle of things.” This phrase describes a narrative that begins in the middle of the story. This narrative could begin with the third crisis on the curve or even smack dab in the middle of the climax. The plot is still working towards the resolution of the climax, but the story is not provided chronologically. You could use a series of flashbacks, follow the paths of two different characters, or begin with the climax and then back track to the “beginning” of the story.

Beginning in the middle of the story is an extremely popular method of organization because it provides an instant hook and the division of the narrative keeps the readers in suspense.

Tip: While you want to keep readers in suspense over how you are going to take them from Point A to Point B, make sure you know the way. Draw out the Fichtean Curve of your plot first, then chop it up and throw the reader into the middle of it.

 Have you ever been on a road trip with someone who doesn’t know where they’re going? You know how you feel as a passenger: “Hey, stop the car so we can get out and ask for directions!” (Or, these days, consult a GPS!) Don’t put your reader in that spot. Start your book with a plan and a structure. It will be an easier and much more pleasant ride to your destination.

Kerry

This post written by Inspira Assistant Editor Kerry Wade, a lover of rice, tea, and books.

Blog image photo credit: Hans Peter Meyer