How to write a simple nonfiction book plan

Does the thought of writing a nonfiction book scare you witless? It needn’t! With the right planning you can simplify the process so it becomes a series of manageable, do-able stages or layers if you like … rather than one mammoth and seemingly insurmountable project. (And this can even work for fiction, too.)

simple way to plan a book

Planning each chapter and section of your book is a little like pegging laundry out on a clothesline…

The beauty of devising and producing a plan of your own is that it’s tailored absolutely to your own needs. Another of its beauties is that you build it up slowly, step by step – this process always reminds me of hanging laundry out on a line: you keeping pegging clothes out in clusters until you have everything hung out neatly! (Well, I do, anyway, although these days I cheat and use a tumble dryer.)

So here’s how you start:

Define your book’s chapters and what each one is about

You don’t need to worry about actual titles yet, so just focus on content. As with many things, books logically need a beginning, a middle and an end, so try to align your chapters in that way. Here’s how a typical order might go for a book on flower arranging for beginners:

Introduction

Foreword (by someone other than you)

Chapter 1 – The basic tools you need to arrange flowers

Chapter 2 – Vases, pots and other containers

Chapter 3 – Basic flower arranging shapes and how they work with containers

Chapter 4 – The easiest arrangements to start with

Chapter 5 – The easiest flowers and greenery for beginners to use

Chapter 6 – More complex arrangements

Chapter 7 – More delicate or demanding flowers and greens

Chapter 8 –Floral arrangements for specific occasions e.g. weddings (some, need input from wedding planner also party planner etc.)

Chapter 9 – Products and natural ways to keep flowers fresh

Chapter 10 – Growing your own flowers

Chapter 11 – Trade secrets and tips to make it easier

Next, define what you already know (shown here as OK)

simple way to plan a bookNote any chapters where you’ll need to do more research, get more input, arrange images, etc. For example:

Introduction – (OK, by me)

Foreword – Mary McGibbon of the Amateur Floral Society???

Chapter 1 – The basic tools you need to arrange flowers – (OK)

Chapter 2 – Vases, pots and other containers – (OK – will need photos)

Chapter 3 – Basic flower arranging shapes and how they work with containers – (OK, will need diagrams)

Chapter 4 – The easiest arrangements to start with – (OK)

Chapter 5 – The easiest flowers and greenery for beginners to use – (OK, will need photos)

Chapter 6 – More complex arrangements – (OK, but will need diagrams and photos)

Chapter 7 – More delicate or demanding flowers and greens – (OK)

Chapter 8 – Floral arrangements for specific occasions e.g. weddings – (some, need input from wedding planner also general party planner etc.)

Chapter 9 – Products and natural ways to keep flowers fresh – (need to research latest products available to public, not just to florists)

Chapter 10 – Growing your own flowers (get advice from Palmers Nursery?)

Chapter 11 – Trade secrets and tips to make it easier – (OK, perhaps ask around for a few more…)

Start adding content in note form

planning a nonfiction bookLet’s start pegging out some of the smaller items of laundry after each pair of jeans … LOL! … with the examples as follows:

Introduction (OK, by me)
Make sure to mention Gran’s influence on me and why I was always so attracted to flower arranging. Also mention Mum and her ideas I still use. Maybe thank the Amateur Floral Society? See if Mary agrees to do a foreword!!

Foreword (Mary McGibbon of the Amateur Floral Society???)
Sound her out at the next monthly meeting. Don’t go too far until I’ve got a full manuscript for her to read.

Chapter 1 – The basic tools you need to arrange flowers (OK)
Pruners, secateurs, scissors, etc. etc. Where to buy them? Best value? How to look after them

Chapter 2 – Vases, pots and other containers (OK – will need photos)
Different types of containers. Use library shots? Hmmm. Write about the most basic containers so readers won’t be struggling with awkward shapes.

Chapter 3 – Basic flower arranging shapes and how they work with containers (OK, will need diagrams)
The “triangle,” rounded shapes, plonk-into-a-vase shapes, small table top arrangements, etc.

Chapter 4 – The easiest arrangements to start with (OK)
Stick to the triangular shapes and how to enhance those. Small posies. Large, impressive arrangements. Arrangements that will last.

Chapter 5 – The easiest flowers and greenery for beginners to use (OK, will need photos)
Carnations, sweetpea, lilies,What greenery? Should you buy it or go clip it out of your own garden? How it enhances flowers, but also how it can overpower them?

Chapter 6 – More complex arrangements (OK, but will need diagrams and photos)
Should I ask other arrangers to contribute images rather than try to replicate them myself? Think about that one.

Chapter 7 – More delicate or demanding flowers and greens (OK)
Yes, OK, but I need to check out information re: some of the more exotic blooms we can use here. Note to self – research these. How to handle roses – ouch.

Chapter 8 – Floral arrangements for specific occasions e.g. weddings (some, need input from wedding planner also party planner etc.)
Need to get back in touch with Melanie who is a wedding planner and various others in my area, to find out just what they want from floral suppliers for weddings. Incorporate this into the chapter. Also party planners … especially dinner parties. Also mustn’t forget people organising bar and bat mitzvah celebrations and celebrations for other faiths. What can my book advise arrangers in this regard?

Chapter 9 – Products and natural ways to keep flowers fresh (need to research latest products available to public, not just to florists)
Are these products wholesome, or are they unfriendly towards the environment? What non-chemical products should I recommend? Sugar based, perhaps?

Chapter 10 – Growing your own flowers (get advice from Palmers Nursery?)
– maybe ask Palmers to contribute the chapter? My own spin on growing your own?

Chapter 11 – Trade secrets and tips to make it easier!
(OK, perhaps ask around for a few more…) Need to make sure any products I recommend are available to the general public, not just professional florists. What about safety and biodegradability? Check.

And … on you go. From here on in, just keep adding your notes to those chapter headings. Re-arrange them as you go along, in order of appearance in your book. As you add more, you may spot places where duplication could arise. However because you are still at the simple, early stage, it’s easy to move topics and sub-topics around so your content runs in a logical order, without repetition, and without leaving anything out.how to plan a bookBefore you know it, you have mapped out the content for each chapter and section of your book in some detail and in more or less the correct order. Next step? Start writing. More about that next time in this new series of articles here on HWTB.
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
If you’d like some help putting a nonfiction book together, don’t forget I have the experience of doing 35 such books myself so can coach you all the way though from an early concept to the finished, published book. More details about that here. Sz x
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Simple, really…! How do you plan your books, articles, blogs and so-on?

Please share!

Comments

comments

Thoughts

*

css.php