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Why Do You Need a Good Book Structure?

Whole books have been written about how to structure a book and you could legitimately spend months—years even—procrastinating on writing your book by researching how to structure one. In my years as a book coach and an editor I have become a student of book structure. Despite the fact that I’m a pantser, or maybe because of it, the question of how to structure a book has come to fascinate me. A vast store of knowledge about how to structure a book is also crucially important in my work as a book editor. I guess the old adage is true: we learn what we need to know.

Before you really start writing your book—or, if you are a pantser, somewhere along the journey of writing it—it’s a good idea to give some thought to how you want your writers to feel at the end of your book. What is the experience you want to give them? Your structure (or, if you like, we can use the less threatening word, “outline”) makes the writing process significantly easier.

It functions as a guide for your writing.

It clarifies for you what you are writing about.

It keeps you focused so you don’t wander off all over the place and write about things that are, when you get right down to it, irrelevant to your narrative and the experience you want to give your readers.

And it requires that you discipline your thinking, so you end up with a more powerful book overall that your readers will be able to resonate with more easily.

Even if you are writing a book of poems, having a structure in mind for the book will allow your poetry to hang together. For a collection of poetry or short stories your “structure” can be quite simply works around a theme.

Remember that you, the author, are taking people on a journey with your book and I invite you to think of this journey as a road trip. A road trip usually has a specific destination, although we might head off on little detours every now and then, which is perfectly okay.
A road trip also generally benefits from the use of a map or a GPS system.

You destination represents where you want to take your readers by the end of your book.
Your map is the path you are going to take in order to get them there, in other words, your structure.

You, as the driver, are the creative muse who is fuelling and driving the vehicle.

I feel a well-structured book is a joy to read and although we absolutely need to tickle the right brains of our readers with creative stories and emotional depth, we simply cannot get around the fact that reading is a linear process. If you want your readers to be enthralled by what you are offering them then you are going to have to package it in a way that makes their logical left brains sigh with delight. You need to hang your book on some structure.

If you’d like help structuring your book manuscript, please get in touch – I have several options for working with me in the book structuring arena and would be pleased to assist you in getting this key piece in place so you can write the best book you are capable of writing.

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