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Your book’s structure is the tool that will gather up your readers and keep them following along with you; it’s the tie that binds all the parts of your story together, from end to end, and in the middle too.

Whether fiction or nonfiction, there are a lot of things to consider when you start to write a book, and one important item is your book’s structure. Without structure, you invite chaos, and chaos brings confusion to you and your reader. That’s why structure is necessary in how you work and unfurl your story.

To become an author – and not just someone with a story to tell – you need organization. Before you start typing into your word processing program or put pen to paper, your story idea percolates in your head and chaos reigns. Stray threads, disorganized thoughts, and both pivotal and unimportant details mingle together without structure. You know you have something to say, but how do you best communicate it?

As a writer, your job is to communicate. Your task is to lead your readers through the wilds of your story or to present your concept and help them make sense of your ideas. You are a tour guide, taking your readers on a journey, and it’s entirely up to you to plot the route.

Begin with a purpose statement

Your book’s purpose guides you through to the final destination on your tour, and you are usually best served taking your readers along the path of least resistance to reach the ultimate purpose of the book. You don’t want your readers to get lost!

Use structure to keep your readers’ attention

Just the other day I watched a brilliant preschool teacher move 20 easily distracted, puppy-like, squirmy children down a hall, past a flight of stairs, and into a gym at the far end of the school without one child stepping out of line. Not a single one. How did she do it? By giving them something to hold on to.

This clever woman had fashioned an eight-foot length of rope like a lion’s tail, and each child grabbed it and followed – happily and orderly – as she guided them to the gym. Like I said, not one child let go.

Your readers aren’t preschoolers, they are intelligent, grown men and women; still, they need something to hold onto as you guide them to the purpose of your book. They need you to lead them on this journey. It’s your job to get them from point A to Z, and the best way to do that is to let them hang onto your tail.

“My tail?” you say? Yes, your tale, the structure of your story. Structure is the tool that will gather up your readers and keep them following along with you, never straying off the path. Your book’s structure is the tie that binds all the parts of your story together, from end to end, and in the middle too. It’s your story, and only you can tell it, so get organized and tell your tale.




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Nancy L. Erickson

About Nancy L. Erickson

Nancy L. Erickson has written 31 posts in this blog.

International book marketer, executive book coach, international speaker, and author advocate Nancy L. Erickson is known as The Book Professor because she helps everyday people write high-impact nonfiction books that will save lives, change lives, or transform society. Titles credited to her name include A Life in Parts, for which she received back-cover endorsements from Sir Paul McCartney and Cindy Crawford. Using a methodology she developed, Erickson leads her clients through the writing and publishing process, from initial concept to a draft manuscript, finished manuscript, professionally published product, and internationally marketed product. Erickson is the owner of Stonebrook Publishing, a small press she founded in 2009, and is the creator and owner of Bookarma, a book marketing platform where authors help authors market their books globally through shared social networks. She has presented her innovative ideas at BEA and the Frankfurt Book Fair, where she was a featured speaker.

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