Your non fiction book – Stepping out your chapter outline

“Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.” A.A. Milne

Stepping out your chapter outline

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This is a walking, using your intuition and making sense process, which will enable you to get to the heart of your chapter outlines. I devised this method based on some NLP timeline work that I had done. This is a great way to find the flow in your book.

[pullquote align=”normal”]This works because you slow it down, connect to the deepest part of you and just allow your unconscious mind to reveal your book to you. [/pullquote]

Get outside and find a beautiful space where you will not get interrupted. Or find some floor space at home and get a number of A4 sheets of paper (10 to 12 will be perfect), a voice recorder (use the one on your phone) and if possible a friend or partner, use them to ask you questions about each chapter

  • What is this chapter about?
  • Why is it important for my reader to know this?
  • How can they do the same, or what exercises can I share?
  • What if – what are the benefits of following the advice in this chapter, or the consequences of not ?

If you don’t have anyone to help, memorise the questions and ask yourself.

Use the voice recorder; it is invaluable for remembering everything you say.

Discovering your book outline

  • Find your space
  • Fix your eyes on a spot in the distance – that is your published book
  • Imagine the chapters in front of you or put down your 10 – 12 pieces of A4 paper
  • Deep breath and get ready to rock
  • Turn on your voice recorder, make sure you have enough space to record
  • Step on to the first chapter and say the chapter title – no thinking just say it
  • Ask your questions or ask your partner to ask the questions
  • As you step onto each chapter, pause to reflect and to get a feeling, sense or image of what the chapter might be about
  • Using the voice recorder talk out loud about what the chapter is about. Remember to ask the what, why, how and what if questions
  • As you step onto the next chapter consider if and how they logically flow into each other. Can you feel the connection? Make a note of any connecting words or ideas. Speak them aloud
  • When you get to the end, look back and review the flow of your chapters and keep amending until they really resonate
  • Walk around looking at them, getting a bird’s eye view

Making sense of your step it out exercise

  • Listen back several times and make notes
  • Either plan it out with post-its or use a mindmapping tool. If neither of these feel right maybe use a spreadsheet and make a list
  • Keep reviewing your chapter outlines until everything looks and/or feels right and makes sense
  • When you are happy, put anything that does not seem to fit to one side. (Keep what you have discarded, they may prove useful)
  • Do a final chapter review. You may want to change titles as you go along
  • Take a day off to reflect
  • When you come back, review what you have written and step it out again. Fully engage your senses and, as you step from chapter to chapter, think about what the chapter is about and try to get a feel for it. If you find it difficult to feel, then use another way (seeing, hearing, thinking) to make sense of what the chapter is about. Remember to turn on your voice recorder again to gather any new information
  • When you are happy that you have it (for now), do a brief write up of each chapter

You are now ready to bring your outline to life.

This video is taken from my course ‘Plan your non-fiction book in a weekend‘.

If you want more help

Take a course: Get Plan your non-fiction book in a weekend online course (pop in AFA50 to get your discount)

Read the book: Not quite a novel… Get your copy on Kindle. Remember to download the Kindle app for your phone.

Get your copy on Amazon

Plan your non fiction book


Plan your non fiction book in a weekend has been designed to help you to be able to undertake all of the vital planning tasks that make writing a book – simple and stress free

Each day to help you create your book, I am going to answer these essential planning questions:-

  • What kind of planner am I and why is this important to know?
  • What tools and resources do I need?
  • What is the process and cost of writing and publishing a book?
  • How long will it take me?
  • How do I get ideas for my book?
  • How do I choose the ONE big idea for my book?
  • What is an outline and how do I create one?
  • How can I structure my chapters?
  • How do I create and use a book proposal?

Have loads of fun and do share what you have been up to.