A Pattern for Non-fiction Chapter Structure

A Pattern for Non-fiction Chapter StructureHave you ever done a Rorschach test? It’s a psychological test that makes use of a person’s interpretation of inkblots so a psychologist can examine their personality and emotional functioning. Our brains are so desperate to make sense of everything that they will tell us that they see a picture in a spot of ink.

If you haven’t done a Rorschach test, then you’ve probably gazed at a cloud and seen a lion, a baked potato, or a car. And I know you’ve heard of someone somewhere who saw the image of the Virgin Mary or Jesus on a piece of burnt toast or a tater tot.

Our brains want to make sense of everything, even if it really is just a blob of ink, a cloud, or burn marks, and we also feel more comfortable with sense and patterns. Ask anyone with OCD if they are happier in a messy playroom or a neat, organized room, and I’m sure they will explain it to you!

This is why setting up a non-fiction book with a pattern for each chapter is a great method for planning and writing! When people know what to expect, then they fall into the pattern and feel very connected with your book. It feels familiar to them by the second chapter. Continue reading

How to Write Press Releases

How to Write Press Releases

Authors and business owners can easily publicize themselves through press releases. When you release a book, reach a major milestone, or hold an event, write a press release to notify the public through your local newspaper or other publications whose audiences would be interested.

Though the writing style is different from writing a book or web material, once you get the hang of what to include in a press release, they are relatively simple to write. You want to keep them short and to the point so they actually get read. You also want to write them in an inverted pyramid style (think about the big part being at the top with the point at the bottom) so people can quickly see what they are about without reading through the whole thing. Continue reading

How to Start Writing a Book

How to Start Writing a Book

A few weeks ago, I spoke at Jefferson Primary School in West Virginia, and I asked the kids what they thought authors did when they decided to start writing a book. The answers varied with each class I spoke to, and I got several different answers from each group. Honestly, these kids gave me some great responses!

My favorites were “come up with an idea to write about” and “do some research.” These kids got it, and they were only between five and ten years old.

Most people realize that you don’t just sit down at your desk and start writing. (Though, honestly, how cool would it be to sit down and bang away at your keyboard, writing your entire novel perfectly stream-of-conscious?) There is a process. You have things to consider before you get too far into your story. You want to make sure that you are on point so you don’t invest time writing half a novel only to discover that you are writing to the wrong audience or something doesn’t align with your purpose. Continue reading

My Best Writing and Editing Advice for 2016

My Best Writing and Editing Advice for 2016

For my 2016 wrap-up, I’ve sorted through all my blogs and pulled out the best advice for writers, from setting yourself up to write with the correct mindset to mitigating writer’s block to editing like a pro. Here are the best juicy tidbits, as well as links to the full blog post for more details.

Enjoy! And make the most of the last few days of 2016 by thinking about your writing! Continue reading

Long After English 101: Writing More Maturely

Long After English 101: Writing More Maturely

If you aren’t used to writing since your days in academia, then you may have a very rigid idea of how to write, which could include the structure of an argument, the use of pronouns, or what you’re supposed to—or not supposed to—talk about.

Don’t throw those conventions out the window, but understand that there is more than one way to write. The way you were taught in English 101 was a simple structure for everyone to learn how to develop their writing. As you mature as a writer, these rules are meant to guide you down the right path. Continue reading

5 Reasons Not to Rush the Writing Process

5 Reasons Not to Rush the Writing Process
Some people will promise you that you can write and publish a book in a weekend or a week or something else crazy like that. Really? A decent book in anything less than a month, not counting children’s books, is outlandish.

If you want anyone other than your mom and your BFF to read your book, why in the world would you rush it? Just because you can write a book in just a few days, doesn’t make it a good idea. You can do a lot of things quickly, but that doesn’t mean you should. (I recall the time I tried to quickly wash the dishes and ended up smacking a wine glass into the faucet. Grrrr!)

I get it. You’re busy. So am I! So is everyone else! But maybe cranking out a book, slapping your name on it, and sending it to the printer isn’t the best way to make you stand out as an author or expert. Continue reading

How to Perfectly Plan Your Blog Post Writing + free download

How to Perfectly Plan Your Blog Post Writing + free download
Plenty of blogs give you the low down on why you should blog, how to boost SEO, writing the perfect title to get more shares, or what topics to cover, but when you finally sit down and stare at your screen, what are you going to say?

I typically shoot for 500-800 words for a blog (and the experts lean toward the longer end of that, even around 1,000 words). For many business owners and authors, though, that can be daunting. How can you provide that much helpful content without rambling or repeating yourself?

Planning, my dears. Planning.

And that’s more than just picking a topic and typing about it until you meet the word count. Continue reading

How to Refine Your Tone and Style to Connect with Readers

How to Refine Your Tone and Style to Connect with Readers
About a month ago, I followed a guy on Twitter and received an auto-direct message thanking me for following him. I always read direct messages and try to connect with people who I have something in common with. Most messages are a simple “thank you,” but occasionally, the person talks a little about what they do. This particular guy told me that I should check out his blog because he writes the only “real” blog with advice for writers. Continue reading