Monday, August 11, 2014

Create a Writing Guide to Make Writing—and Finishing—Your Manuscript Easy


By Nina Amir



Many writers never complete their books because writing an entire manuscript feels daunting. However, a writing guide based on your book provides a step-by-step process and makes the task feel manageable.

Each time you begin a writing period, use this six-step process, which has been adapted from my book, The Author Training Manual: Develop Marketable Ideas, Craft Books That Sell, Become the Author Publishers Want, and Self-Publish Effectively. 

1.     Create a folder on your computer called “[Your Book Title] Writing Guide.” Place within it the following 3 documents:

     1.     An overview of your book, including a book pitch, a book description or synopsis, a list of reader benefits (even for fiction)
2.     Your book’s table of contents
3.     Your book’s chapter summaries—actually chapter-by-chapter synopsis for both fiction and nonfiction (preferred)—or a synopsis (just for fiction)

2.     Create chapter documents and place them in the Writing Guide folder. Open a document for each chapter. Copy and paste that chapter’s summary, or the section of your synopsis that pertains to it, into the document twice. Leave the first summary intact. For nonfiction, break the second duplicate summary into bullet points or subheadings with spaces in between. (If you find it easier, you can determine what questions you need to answer, what benefits you need to provide, or what solutions your need to provide to address the topics about which you need to write.) For fiction, break the second duplicate summary into scenes, shorter dramatic arcs, or flashbacks. Do so with separate sentences, short phrases or paragraphs with spaces between.

3.     Before each writing period, open your writing guide and review the first three documents. Do this to remind yourself of the book you want to create and to stay focused on your idea and the promises you are making to readers. In particular, read the pitch to stay focused on your book’s topic or the story you want to tell. Refer to this anytime you feel lost, stuck, or off track. Refer back to the list of benefits to remind yourself of the value readers expect from your book and to be sure you deliver it.

4.     Write using the bulleted chapter summaries. Open a chapter document. Review the complete summary at the top to remind yourself of the content of that particular chapter. Then, write your chapter moving from bullet point to bullet point, section to section, scene to scene (writing in the space underneath each) until you get to the end of your chapter.

5.     Reread your chapter summary or synopsis. When done, skim over your draft chapter and determine if you achieved all your stated goals. Did you cover everything in the summary? If not, make notes on what you left out so you can add those points in your second draft.

6.     Return to your “[Book Title] Writing Guide.” Reread the pitch, book description, and list of benefits and consider whether during your writing period you delivered on the promise of the entire book in this particular chapter.


Use this guide to easily write your book and craft a marketable manuscript as well.

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Nina Amir, author of the bestselling How to Blog a Book: Write, Publish, and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time (Writers Digest Books) and The Author Training Manual: Develop Marketable Ideas, CraftBooks That Sell, Become the Author Publishers Want, and Self-Publish Effectively (Writers Digest Books), transforms writers into inspired, successful authors, authorpreneurs and blogpreneurs. Known as the Inspiration to Creation Coach, she moves her clients from ideas to finished books as well as to careers as authors by helping them combine their passion and purpose so they create products that positively and meaningfully impact the world. A sought-after author, book, blog-to-book, and results coach, some of Nina’s clients have sold 300,000+ copies of their books, landed deals with major publishing houses and created thriving businesses around their books. She writes four blogs, including Write Nonfiction Now and How to Blog a Book, self-published 12 books and founded National Nonfiction Writing Month, aka the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge.


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