As a previous textbook editor for over 35 years, and as a nonfiction editor on this site, helping people bring their self-help books and memoirs to fruition, sometimes after years of writing them, I am seeing a common problem: Repetition. How to remember what you said or wrote in an early chapter, when you’re in chapter 30 or even 100! Not easy! (And no, it has nothing to do with doing a Google search, although that might help.)
So, let me tell you a secret to solve the problem.
As an educational textbook editor, textbooks had to go from the simplest concepts at the beginning to more complex concepts in the middle and the end, that is, concepts were built on each other, like building blocks. In fact, we called it just that, “the building block approach.” And concepts had to follow a logical progression. And what better way to organize your logical approach than by using an outline! That’s the “secret”; outline your book in a logical fashion so that your ideas flow logically from concept to concept. And write it down. If it’s really good, your outline becomes your table of contents, complete with subheads. Then stick to it. Hopefully, when you write down your outline and your subheads, you will see repetitions and then decide where they best belong. Or you can delete them.
Or better yet, get your editor to delete them.
But it’s much better having a road map than just “winging it.” Trust me. Because winging it and making it up as you go will just get you lost in an endless loop of repetition . . . repetition . . . repetition.
Rachel Stone is a nonfiction book editor who can help you realize your book’s vision.No tags for this post.