Saturday, April 3, 2010

Three Acts--A Way to Organize the Monster That Is Your Book Manuscript

A well- structured book is like a clear trail. The reader can follow it. So can the writer.

But many writers get bogged down during the process of planning, writing, and finishing a manuscript. A writing project as big as a book can make us confused and overwhelmed. We get lost, even forget where we are in the journey.

I ran into this pretty often when I was involved my first books. I saw that there was a real need in most book writers, no matter the genre. We wanted a system, an easier way to navigate a book-length manuscript, make the path easier to follow--not just for our eventual readers, but also for us, as writers.

Many writers think that books are just expanded shorter pieces of writing. I thought so too, at first. I came from writing short and sweet, as a newspaper columnist for twelve years, and short pieces fit my creative impatience. I liked the closure of writing something each week, limited and succinct. I could work hard, get the writing done, and move on. But I really wanted to dive into a book.

I was naive in those days, innocent enough to think a book would be similar to the process of writing weekly columns. Just longer, right?