Your perfect chapter

I am a big fan of making writing a book easy. Part of that ease is to create a chapter format, so it keeps you focused and it gives you a structure for your writing.

Once you have created your book outline, its a great idea to start thinking about your chapter format. Each writer will have a format that suits their style and how they like to present their work. However, you also need to consider how to connect to different kinds of people and their way of interpreting information- and this is something I will cover in another article.

A really simple format is – what, why, how and what if.

Steps to creating your perfect chapter

Step one

Write up:-

  • What the chapter is about?
  • Why this is important to your reader?
  • How they can so whatever it is you are talking about?
  • What if they followed your advice and what if they didn’t?
  • What would you like them to do as a result of reading this chapter?

Step two

Write down what questions this chapter answers. This will keep your writing focused.

Step three

Start writing. It doesn’t matter which chapter you start on. Write what you find easiest, where you have the most information, knowledge, skills and experience on. Do the fun bits first, so that you whet your appetite and feel motivated.

Step four

Review what you have done and work out the pattern you have used. Is it clear and does your writing flow, in this pattern? If not re-jig it until it works for you.

E.g. You might start with a story or a case study, then move into what, why, followed by some exercises which illustrate your strategies, conclude with another case study and some thinking points.

You may start by painting a big picture, move into more detail and then back out to the big picture.

You might start with something positive, use the middle to cover off difficult subjects and then move back to a positive position. Alternatively start with the difficult piece and end on a positive piece.

Does your writing create bridges and links between theory, stories and exercises? Does it ask questions to get your reader thinking and exploring.

Step five

  • Write up a skeleton chapter layout using your discoveries and start to layout your other chapters ready for the writing phase.
  • Test it and refine it

Other points to consider

Keep each chapter in a separate file (WORD or PAGES document), it is easier to work on smaller chunks of work.

Write as much as you can for each chapter and then move onto another one, this gives you reflection time. Let go of any attachment to what you have written, when you come back, you will be able to edit with clarity and focus.

Don’t let grammar, spelling, punctuation get in the way of your writing, just write. Remember the magic comes in the editing.

Read your chapter out aloud, as this will really give you a feel for what you are trying to say. Better still video yourself.

Add chapter titles and sub headings as they come to you, even if you can’t think of anything, just put in the first thing that comes to mind. These can be changed later. I often use my questions as subheadings.

If you are unclear if your chapter style and layout works, ask your book coach. What I will do is read through it considering learning styles, looking for flow, story start and ends, make sure exercises work and what else might be missing.

The review stage between you and I could take several iterations, but once you have found your pattern for this book, the rest of your writing will flow.

It really is worth the hard work up front.

6 Replies to “Your perfect chapter”

  1. Good common sense points, thank you. You make it sound so easy: if we’re organised and structured the book will just flow. Do you use this method for fiction books too? I’ve only written books on meditation which had a natural logical flow to them anyway.

  2. I like your example of the bubble map. This is the method I use when helping people with their marketing plan (which often includes authorship of books and articles.)

    You tip on keeping each chapter in a separate file is Golden…so many great reasons to do that!

    Great blog, glad to have found you)

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