The LAST Word with Louise Harris
I began my column by talking about where people who want to write a book, should start. I explained that if you are ready to write a book, you need to ensure you have something to say that people want to read. I talked about organizing your journaling and ramblings into themes that can be the essence of chapters. I suggested creating outlines, writing bullets of ideas that become chapter themes, using note cards or finding your own way to decide what you want in the book.
Make It Flow
This column will discuss how to make your book readable, or flow of the text. Many of the books on the market today have no logical beginning, middle or end. They jump from topic to topic without transitions or coherence. High-quality writers make sure their books flow like a river from one idea to the next. When you read these writers, the book’s flow seems effortless, but in reality, it takes a lot of work to make it flow correctly. However, you want it to seem effortless.
The best way to make your book flow as if a river from beginning to the end is to write a first draft. Writers work two ways. They either write a complete first draft, and then, edit the manuscript several times, or they will polish each chapter several times while moving along. I find that I don’t get distracted when I write a complete first draft before I begin editing. I also am unique in that I write my first draft as a hand-written document. Therefore, when I go to put the manuscript into the computer for the first time, I edit as I type. Most people start on the computer.
After you have a first draft, you should print a copy and read to yourself out loud. This will immediately tell you if your manuscript flows or is jumbled. The ear is an interesting organ. While the eye might correct words to read well in your head, the ear doesn’t do that. If it sounds jarring when read out loud, it doesn’t flow and should be fixed.
When you create your first draft and you have printed the book, you might want to rearrange your chapters. Look at the titles without reading the text underneath them. Do the titles make sense one after the other? Would they be better in a different way?
Rearrange the titles until you are satisfied that each idea is a natural after the other. If some of the titles don’t make sense in any location, you might want to cut them. If you feel something is missing, you are probably right and need to add a chapter. When you mix up your chapters, you will see better ways of making the copy flow.
Let Someone Read It
I recommend to all people who are interested in writing a book that they need to hire a professional editor to edit the manuscript and a professional designer to do the book cover. Without the expense of these two people, you are doomed to fail. If you want to sell your book, you need to ensure that it reads well and looks good.
Before you have your professional editor go through it, you might want to have someone you know and trust to read the manuscript. That person will tell you where the book is not working. Your friend will ask questions that you might not have considered when you were writing. The reader will tell you what he or she expected to be included in the chapter under the title you gave him or her. This advice is valuable in creating a good book and in ensuring that your transitions hit the mark.
Know Why You Are Writing It
When you are considering book flow, it helps to know why you are writing it in your mind at all times. If you are a holistic life coach, you might want to write a book to show how your technique is more efficient than competitors. Therefore, every chapter should emphasize the theme that your technique is more efficient. If your chapters don’t follow the theme, they will not make the book flow from one idea to another seamlessly. You can chop those chapters that don’t follow your theme. They might work as another book.
Next from The Last Word… Organize Your Writing