“Give me six hours to chop down a tree
and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
― Abraham Lincoln
Writing a good book, like success in sports, requires a high degree of preparation. In sports the preparation begins before an athlete ever takes the field. In books, the prep work starts long before, “Once upon a time…”.
In order to craft a compelling journey for your reader beginning on page one, you must already have a near forensic understanding of your own material. If you don’t put in the work during development, the final product will reflect it. Whether this translates into confused readers, bored ones, or outright hostile ones (because readers hate when an author wastes their time, money, and attention) – it’s not good.
An elite athlete would never dream of heading into the big game without hours and hours of preparation. Why not approach the development of your book with the same intensity?
Here’s a writing exercise to help kick things off:
- In a word or phrase, what is the core idea of your book?
- What makes it different than others like it?
- Be honest, why should we bother reading it?
- Now take your answer to #3 and answer the question “So What?” until you figure out why anyone will actually give a crap about your book.
- Describe your target reader – as in singular – one person – down to the details of his or her daily life. Paint a picture, and then write to this person exclusively (your book will naturally attract others like your target reader due to the precision and clarity of the writing).
- Why does this person really need this book? What is the urgency?
- What is the major takeaway of your book? (This applies to nonfiction AND fiction!)
- What is the most universal seed at the heart of your book – one that anyone off the street can relate to, no matter what their walk of life? How can you relate the concepts in your book, no matter how complex, to the common man?
For instance, in my novel Canyon Road, the universal seed is: What if everything you thought to be true about life, was wrong?
This is only scratching the surface of the developmental prep work that can and should be done before you begin writing your book. For more personalized guidance and developmental help with YOUR book, you are welcome to add yourself to my calendar.
Until next time…