STEP 3. PLANNING YOUR OUTLINE
Putting together the blueprint your book will follow
How to turn needs into chapters
All budding authors wonder “what exactly should they put in their book?”
It’s time to open your eyes and realize the truth: YOU have a unique skill. An important message. Valuable knowledge to share.
Now you’ve come up with a reader-focused shortlist of things you need to cover, it gets a lot easier.
Structure your book to support learning
I don’t want to bombard you with heaps of dreary educational theory, but I think this model ( Bloom’s Modified Taxonomy of Learning) is fantastic when it comes to developing book outlines.
Bloom’s Modified Taxonomy of Learning
People learn to master a subject in the following sequence
- remembering – picking up basic facts (and dispelling myths!)
- understanding – learning concepts
- applying – following processes, using techniques
- analysing – assessing approches and outcomes
- evaluating – critiquing the analysis
- creating – generating new ideas
There’s also a couple more helpful things you can give your readers to help them learn
- tools and resources
- feedback, support and motivation
This is the reason why I coach people to structure a book like they do – all those points go into the melting pot that becomes a chapter. All you need to do is put them in the best order.
Teach the facts
Facts are the cornerstones to knowledge. They help set a solid foundation for learning. They are like towns that catch your eye on a map of an unfamiliar area and give you your bearings.
An example of a fact would is “if people regularly eat more calories than they need, they put on weight.”
It’s just a simple statement of fact, with no explanation of why the process happens.
When people have no knowledge of your subject at all, key facts help them get started.
Once they have a little bit of context, they are ready to learn more – your concepts and processes.
Sometimes beginners already have knowledge of your topic!
But it’s incorrect.
They have learned MYTHS not FACTS.
Basing decisions on those myths is often what’s stopping them getting results.
For example, if someone thinks “I regularly eat low-fat foods, I will lose weight.” and doesn’t understand the problem is eating too many calories full stop, they will continue to fail.
TIP: Remember, you might need to dispel those myths so people get good results.
Teach the concepts
Our understanding and interaction with the world is based on concepts and our grasp of them.
We use our conceptual knowledge all the time, explaining, reasoning, classifying, summarising, comparing, inferring – the list goes on.
When you elaborate on your book outline, the lion’s share of the words will be spent explaining concepts to your readers. One they have this knowledge in place, they can start applying those concepts to get results.
Teach the processes
Once people know the facts and the key concepts, they need to be able to apply that knowledge to a real world situation.
Don’t leave them to muddle through. Tell them the most effective way to apply the concepts to their problem or situation.
It’s all well and good, filling your readers’ heads with facts and concepts – but remember, they are reading your book to get results – to achieve something – not just be brainboxes!
There are two sorts of processes you may need to share – one offs and ongoing tasks
- needing to do a something once, like preparing and writing their best man’s speech
- needing to do something over and over again, like an athlete mentally preparing to get into the zone before each and every training session
Provide supporting resources
Make it easy to master the processes
Give your readers step- clear by-step, instructions.
Need them to do some specific research, provide a form with some set questions to complete to store their anwers.
Need them to be prepared before they start something, or make sure nothing gets missed off before it’s finished, give them a checklist.
Make it as simple as possible for you to teach them HOW to achieve something.
Motivate your readers
As your readers apply and master your information, they need to know how things are going. In a classroom environment, they can simply ask their teacher. At home, sat alone with your book, they don’t have that luxury. Make it easy for them. You can
- set simple quizzes so readers can test if they have understood the key points of a chapter
- offer hints, tips, and warnings to help them through a process
- explain how to solve common problems that crop up
If you want, you can set up an online group for your readers. This becomes an online community where people can get support from you and each other.
Facebook is a good place to set one of these groups up.
This is where you can incorporate reassurance and motivation. ( I’ve got one for authors if you’d like to join? )
Plan your outline
Go ahead now and plan your outline, one chapter at a time, weaving in these types of information. (If you need more help, check my free quick start guide.)
You can use a computer or use a trusty pen and paper – whatever works best for you?
Once it’s done, Talk through your outline with someone else, ideally in your target audience.
This is a great way to double check the quality of your book idea.
Discuss your strategy to make sure your friend thinks you outline is clear, concise, complete and logical.
Fixing any concerns at outline stage is a breeze compared with battling to knock 40,000 words back into good shape. (Seriously, don’t do the 40,000 words thing, it’s HELLISH!).
Getting praise for having a strong concept and a good quality outline is also a great confidence booster.
Add your outline to your book template
Once your outline is complete and you have had positive feedback, it’s time to add your outline to your book template.
If you need one, I’ve provided six free template designs you can download now.