and my reading glasses to sit just right...Admittedly, I don’t carry around a notebook often for this specic reason--I have something to capture ideas near
me pretty much twenty-four hours a day.But let me ask you: you also have a smartphone with you constantly, but how many notes have you taken with it?How many voice memos have you dashed off to yourself all this time? A few? Maybe?That’s what I thought.
The whole point of this exercise is to get you to carry the notebook around as a reminder that you should be jot
-ting ideas down. Only after you have that beaten into you by months of carrying notebooks around should youwean yourself off of it and go back to using your phone to take notes.
Right! Now that you’ve started taking down copious, insightful, hilarious notes, you should have plenty of them.Or maybe you’ve always had a great premise for a novel, but didn’t know where to start or where it would go.
That’s totally ne.The next step is guring out how you can put together an entire book relying on some of those disjointed, seem
ingly unrelated ideas that you’re writing down. More appropriately: you have a premise, so how do you ll it in
Non-Fiction Books: Make an Outline
Outlines are the lifeblood of non-ction books. It’s the rare non-ction piece that can be insightful and entertain
-ing without an outline. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is one of the few that comes to mind, and that’s about alunatic genius who gets hopped up on all kinds of drugs and hallucinates 3/4ths of the book, anyway.
Outlines work in non-ction for a good reason: they’re a great way to organize your thoughts into a cogent whole.
Heading, subheading, supporting points. BOOM! Each chapter gets its own heading. If you decide to go with atraditional publisher, they’ll want to see an outline anyway. Outline, outline, outline.
If you nd yourself stuck after three or so ideas for chapters, don’t worry: all that means is that you need to focus
your idea harvesting for the next few days, weeks, months, etc. Think about the book whenever you have free timein short, directed microbursts. What could you provide that would be helpful to your readers?
That raises another good point: ultimately non-ction comes down to one thing: value. What kind of value are
you giving your reader? Especially in a world where tons of great content is available for free, how will you makeyour stuff stand out?
Fiction: Plotter vs. Pantser
No, that heading doesn’t refer to what you think it does...at least I don’t think so...Fiction writers tend to fall into two camps. There are those who plot out every twist and turn ahead of time, writ-
ing incredibly detailed outlines to the point that they just need to “ll in the blanks” come writing time.
Then, there are those of us who prefer to create characters and throw them in a situation, with little or no idea of how the book is going to end, and see what happens.