How to Outline a Non-Fiction Book

29 Apr, 2021 Book Writing,General

Whether you are a seasoned writer or just getting started on exploring a new craft, you may find that the initial steps to writing a complete non-fiction book can be a little daunting. You know what you want your story to be and have a good sense of how it should unfold, but how can you effectively transfer these ideas from your head to the page?

Your best bet for getting started is to create a non-fiction book outline before you even begin typing your first chapter. An outline can have a lot of benefits when it comes to successfully writing your non-fiction book, including the following:

An Outline Helps You to Start Off Organized

When you have a clearer sense of what you want to write, you’ll find that the writing process becomes much easier. You now have a template of how your non-fiction book should unfold and at what intervals, which will make it easier to organize your book from start to finish.


An Outline Leads to Better Writing

When writing a long piece like a non-fiction book, it’s easy to veer off course. Perhaps you spend too long lingering on a single topic or idea, or maybe your topics bounce from one to another without solid and effective transitions along the way. A detailed outline can help ensure that your writing flows from one topic or chapter to the next, creating a more polished book and easier to read for your audience.


An Outline Helps You Stay Focused and Motivated

One of the most challenging aspects of writing a non-fiction book is staying focused until the last page, but an outline will certainly help you along the way. With a clear path of steps to create or chapter titles to follow, you won’t have to wonder what to write next. Instead, you can focus on the tasks at hand and have a clear route towards your final page.

Simply put, a solid outline can have a wealth of benefits well before you’ve started your story. But how can you ensure that your outline process is effective and sets you on the right path for the best book possible? You can get started with these step-by-step tips to craft an outline that will guide the way.


How to Create an Outline


First, Consider the Big Picture

What do you want your readers to feel or learn after they read your non-fiction book? Do you want them to feel inspired or hopeful? Motivated or encouraged?

Do you want them to have in-depth knowledge or a better understanding of a certain topic? What are the key takeaways you want your audience to remember after they put down your book?

These are the big questions to consider before you start the outline, and they will help identify your overall theme. Once you have these broad-stroke ideas in place, you can begin to get into the details while always keeping your theme in mind.


Next, Find a Template

If you have no idea how to start or ensure your outline covers all the basics and more, try utilizing an online template. Many self-publishing companies and writers’ blogs offer materials for new writers, including sample templates for both fiction and non-fiction works. Do a quick online search, and you’ll find tons of samples and templates that will help you give a clearer picture of how your outline should take shape.


Go by Chapter, or Topic, or Theme

Another good way to develop an outline from scratch is to go chapter by chapter or topic by topic, listing out each chapter and a general list of what it should entail. Keep in mind that you’ll want to keep all chapters roughly the same length, so be sure and proceed accordingly.

Do not put a wealth of info in one chapter and leave another one lacking – try to divide up your topics and how much you’ll cover them as equitably as possible to ensure that your book has a steady and progressive flow from start to finish.


Keep Length in Mind, but Enjoy the Freedom to Be Flexible

One of the major hurdles that stops new writers from becoming published authors is the fear of writing a lengthy non-fiction book. A number of professionals and experts on a myriad of topics have the inherent knowledge and the gumption to write a book, but they pause simply because the idea of writing hundreds of pages seems just a little too daunting.

But remember that you don’t have to write an encyclopedia to create a book that will impact the world! If you are writing a book to help boost your business or career, consider writing a shorter and easier-to-create “business card book.”

Much more effective than a business card or other giveaway item, a business card book is a short book that allows you to position yourself as an expert on a certain topic without dedicating hours and hours to a lengthy non-fiction work.


Ask for Assistance

It’s imperative to receive feedback on every step of the process, including your initial outline. Ask friends, colleagues, or other professionals to take a peek at your finished outline, and confirm that it makes sense, both chronologically and in the way, it flows. Remember that if you are a new writer, you can also enlist the professional expertise of a book coach, who will help you with the writing process every step of the way.

Writing a book, especially a non-fiction book, can be an intimidating challenge, but with a little advanced preparation, you can stay focused and on track for the fun work ahead. An outline is a great first step for helping you narrow down just how your book will unfold and is a wonderful tool to keep you motivated from the first page to the last.

So, before you start writing, take a moment to examine and spell out precisely what you want to say. With a solid outline in hand, you can chart a course to a finished non-fiction book that you will be proud of.


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How to Outline a Non-Fiction Book
Ready to write your non-fiction book and not sure where to start? Time to craft an outline! Read on to uncover how an outline can help you from your first page to your last.

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