Do It Now Part 7: Outlining Chapters — The Key to Writing Faster & Better
In this episode, you’ll also hear:
- How outlining chapters streamlines the writing process and boosts your book’s quality
- Important steps to take before you start writing
- Why you should consider writing a shorter book
- An interview with Christian Authors Network partner John Stange about making money with shorter books (link below!)
Start by Outlining Chapters
Instead of trying to write a longer book with, say, 25,000 words, try focusing on writing fewer words that are well-written and powerful in the mind of your audience. Start by taking the time to create a chapter outline first. Once you’ve created an outline, all you have to do is fill in the blanks and come up with the content for your book. This streamlines your process, allows you to finish faster, and usually produces a better book.
Yes, outlining chapters requires a bit of a time investment on the front end. But it saves you time in the long run, because you don’t have to sit there staring at a blank page with the cursor blinking on your computer, and you don’t have to spend hours rewriting and editing your work later on.
Even more importantly, remember that this isn’t just about getting words on a page — it's about creating something meaningful and inspirational. As a Christian author, you’re not only sharing your personal stories and lessons learned; you’re also writing to reflect God’s message and convey it in a way that resonates with readers.
This is important stuff! So you want to approach it in a way that will have the biggest impact on your audience. That means you need to do things in order.
1. Get Clear on Your Book’s Target Audience
Before you begin writing — or even outlining chapters — it’s important to determine who you’re writing the book for. For starters, are you writing for Christians, or for people who don’t yet know Christ or who may be a little distant from Him? That's important to think about, because knowing who you’re writing for will help you craft your message in a way that resonates with them.
If you're writing for non-Christians, or people who may not have a close relationship with God, you may want to consider introducing topics in an approachable, informative manner, rather than using religious jargon or terms that they may not understand. If you're writing for Christians, you’ll want to think about how to best address their spiritual needs.
2. Choose Your Main Theme
What is the main theme or idea for your book? Making this decision up front will automatically focus your writing, helping you stay on track as you’re outlining chapters and avoid going off in all kinds of different directions with no clear message.
You might choose something from scripture, such as God's love or grace, or something related to your faith walk, like prayer and forgiveness.
Then, once you've chosen your main theme, consider ways you can explore that concept throughout the course of your book by introducing relevant stories. These could be stories from Scripture highlighting a particular biblical figure, or they could be personal anecdotes from your own life, as well as thoughtful reflections on experiences that you or people you know have had.
3. Do Your Research
Once you've come up with a theme, it’s time to do some digging. Get online or visit a library or bookstore, and search for books, blogs, videos, and articles related to your theme. This will help give you deeper insight into the topic and what your audience may be looking for, and it will also help you refine the topics that you’ll use when you start outlining chapters.
Taking all this time to research and plan on the front end will save you heartache and frustration in the long run. Plus, you’ll likely find that as you research, you’ll be inspired by what you read — and that will also help make your writing process shorter.
4. Start Outlining!
Now that you’ve determined your target audience, selected your theme, and done your research, you're ready to start actually outlining chapters. To do this, take your overall theme and break it down into smaller chunks that can be easily addressed with individual chapters.
Consider what Scriptures, biblical lessons, or experiences will best support each chapter topic. Then think about how you will build on each topic throughout the course of the book. This really doesn't have to be a complex process! And you don't even have to have a lot of chapters — you could have as few as four or five quality chapters.
Take some time to really think about the most important things your audience needs to know about this subject, and then make sure you're focusing your book on those things. This will help your audience feel as though they got exactly what they needed.
Consider the Power of Short Books
Of course, outlining chapters like this ahead of time means you may not end up writing the longest book on your particular topic. But that can actually be a blessing! Sometimes, a shorter book actually encourages people to keep reading.
Think about the really long books you’ve read. Did you ever stop and look at the page number, realize you still had more than 100 pages to go, and start thinking about how much more time it would take to finish? Even if the book is packed with great content, it can be difficult to finish when there are so many pages to get through.
On the other hand, consider how it feels to read a great book that is also very short (think 50 pages or less). It feels doable, right? And when you realize you’re almost done, it’s easy to push through and knock out those last few pages.
Now, will every theme or topic fit into 50 or fewer pages? Maybe not. But think about that idea you’ve been sitting on for years. What if you could just get started on it? What if you could take one key piece of what you want your audience to know, and break it down into a simple, short 50-page book? At least then your audience could get started on their journey to transformation, because your book and message would be out there.
Prioritize Quality Over Quantity
Would you rather read 1,000 mediocre pages of a book, or 50 pages that leave you breathless and wanting more? That’s the power of focusing on quality over quantity. By outlining chapters from your ideas first and consciously crafting each sentence, you can create a book that is powerful and impactful no matter the length.
Remember, it's not about how much you write — it's about how well you write it. So don't get bogged down in the word count. Instead, focus on the message you want to convey, and let that guide your writing.
The more intentional you are with your words, the more powerful your message will be. So don't just settle for writing more — strive to write better. Yes, as a writer, you may feel pressure to produce more words and pages. But it's important to remember that what really matters is the impact your writing has on the reader.
So instead of rushing to fill pages with content, set aside time for thoroughly outlining chapters first. This will enable you to write fewer words that are well-written and powerful, and to make an impact on those you are called to serve.
So go ahead, take a step back, focus on quality over quantity, and do it now.
How to Make Money with Shorter Books
Yes, you CAN make money writing short books. Just ask Christian Authors Network partner John Stange! He recently sat down with us and explained how to write short books that are under 50 pages, grow your author platform quickly, and make money.
The thing about shorter books is that you can create a lot of them in a relatively short period of time, which means more streams of income for you. Not to mention, a lot of people love reading shorter books, because they're easy to digest and don't take up too much of their time.
It's time to start multiplying your money! Check out the interview with John Stange to learn more about the power of short books and John's community Platform Launchers.
My name is Tamara "Coach Tam" Jackson and I am a published author, Facebook© Certified Digital Marketer, host of the Top 100 Publishing Secrets podcast, and founder of The Christian Authors Network (C.A.N.) Facebook© community. I specialize in helping mission-driven authors, coaches, and entrepreneurs increase their exposure, impact, and income through strategic self-publishing and digital media appearances. Just say yes and we will work together to attract a tribe of loyal followers that 1) "get you", 2) love what you do, and 3) are happy to invest in your book, business, cause, or movement. Plus, we will accomplish all of this without fake, salesy, sleazy, or manipulative tactics. Yes you CAN write, publish, and profit in a way that honors God; join the community today at https://christianauthors.net/fbgroup.
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