Monday, June 27, 2016

So, What's the Plan?

When it comes to writing books, there’s so much to focus on, such as coming up with a story idea, developing the plot, and creating characters, just to name a few things. However, there’s one important feature writers sometimes overlook but is crucial to the success of a book, and that is having a plan for the book.

So, why is a plan important? Simply put, a plan helps writers with organizing their book. A book plan is similar to designing a building. Architects, for instance, ask their clients how large a house they want to build, how many rooms, and how much space they would like to have in each room.  Similarly, writers need to make several determinations before they start writing or “building” their book. 

Dr. Willard Grosvenor Bleyer, an author and journalism professor in the early 1900s, wrote extensively about how to plan newspaper articles and books. What’s so amazing is that even though Dr. Bleyer produced his works over 100 years ago, the points he makes about writing are still relevant today! According to Dr. Bleyer, writers need to consider: 

1. Length of the book. The length of a book is primarily determined by the subject matter. For instance, if you are writing a legal thriller, not only will you have to build the suspense, but you will also have to explain court proceedings, legal theories and other aspects of the law to your readers. 

2. Purpose of the book. To determine a book’s purpose, one question writers should ask themselves is, “What’s the point of my book?” Not everything you write is important, so get rid of all non-essential material. 

3. How to arrange the material. This step may take a while because it requires quite a bit of thought. According to Dr. Bleyer, a logical development of a subject by which the reader is led, step by step, from the first sentence to the last in the easiest and most natural way, is the ideal arrangement. An article should march right along from beginning to end, without digressing or marking time.”

While it’s natural to want to start writing your book, planning should take priority. Planning a book will take quite a bit of your time but it will help to eliminate some – not all – frustration that comes with writing a book. Remember: Time spent in planning a book is time well spent.

Some information for the article was taken from Dr. Bleyer’s book: How to Write Special Feature Articles: A Handbook for Reporters, Correspondents and Free-Lance Writers Who Desire to Contribute to Popular Magazines and Magazine Sections of Newspapers.

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