Writing a nonfiction book outline can take months. A new book is rattling around in my head. Before I started it, I decided to research outlining and came across something called mind-mapping. How does it work? Would it work for me?
Judy Collins discusses the outline approach in a Hub Pages website article, "Book Chapters -- Organize and Outline with Mind-Mapping." She defines the process as a "color-coded note taking technique that offers the author a flexible approach." As the name implies, it is a visual plan, with the book title in the middle of the page.
Branches, written in different colors, come out from the title. They include an introduction that has a "hook opener," answering the reader's questions, chapter points, sub-points, and a sample writing format. Fiction and nonfiction books have a slightly different map.
Collins thinks mind-mapping has six benefits. First, it is flexible and accommodates to errors. The approach builds on the mind's ability to remember pictures. Creating a map is faster than writing a detailed outline. The map has key words and phrases, which are also easier to remember. The author sees a big picture at a glance. Organizing chapters is easier. Finally, sales increase because potential buyers can understand the book instantly.
Alan Bohart details the outlining approach in his Search Warp website article, "Writing a Book Outline." The outline is one of the most overlooked writing steps, Bohart says, because "nobody likes to do the prep work and everybody loves to write." If an author has not done the prep work his or her book could fail. While Bohart admits the old-fashioned outline is easy to understand, he thinks the visual approach is better.
Are you thinking about writing a book? According to Bohart, you need to take the time to write a good outline and the result will be work of "higher quality."
Susan C. Daffron discusses the pluses of mind-mapping in her Internet article, "How to Create an Outline for Your Non-Fiction Book.'' An author's outline is a road map of the book, she says, and "the longer a document is, the more important it is to have an outline." Mind-mapping begins brainstorming. General areas are identified first and then grouped into sections. Then narrower topics are added under each section. This approach makes writing a book more manageable, according to Daffron.
I identified general topics, but realized I needed to do more research before I could slot in sub-topics. So my map is on hold. Still, I plan to use this approach and you may decide to use it too. The approach gives us a glimpse of our minds at work and that is intriguing.
Copyright 2010 by Harriet Hodgson http://www.harriethodgson.com
Harriet Hodgson has been an independent journalist for 30+ years. She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of Health Care Journalists, and Association for Death Education and Counseling. Her 24th book, "Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief," written with Lois Krahn, MD is available from Amazon.
Centering Corporation has published her 26th book, "Writing to Recover: The Journey from Loss and Grief" to a New Life" and a companion journal with 100 writing jump-starts. Hodgson is a monthly columnist for the new "Caregiving in America" magazine, which resumes publication in August. She is also a contributing writer for the Open to Hope Foundation website. Please visit Harriet's website and learn more about this busy author and grandmother.