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How to Write a Book Chapter that Guides Your Readers Like a Yellow Brick Road

Aug 7, 2008
Is your book organized? The best non-fiction books are organized like a paved road guiding readers through their chapters. That paved road of organization includes mile markers, exit signs and other road markers for each chapter. Think about it; we easily get lost unless the path is clear. It's stressful to take a journey without a clear road to travel.

Most people enjoy a journey (even a book journey) on a paved clearly marked road. Instead of leaving your readers to follow a mucky path of disorganization through your book, use repeating elements to create a can't-miss-it road like the yellow brick road in the 'Wizard of Oz' movie (1939).

In John Maxwell's "21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You" book, he skillfully uses repeating elements. These repeating elements form a paved road that leads you clearly through each chapter. Each chapter has the same basic form (road). To create chapters that guide your readers like a yellow brick road include these 10 elements:

1. Sizzle your chapter title: Create grab you by the collar chapter titles. You can immediately follow up with a subtitle that emphasizes and explains the title's meaning. Or you may consider a brief quotes.

2. Insert brief quotes: You may follow each title one or two quotes from your speeches or other authorities in your field which support the title.

3. Write an Introduction: Begin each chapter with 6-8 paragraphs of introduction. The introduction may include a short story presenting the chapter's main principle or underlying thesis. For short books 3 to 4 paragraphs work best. You don't want your introduction to over power your chapter.

4. Create an opening statement: For example, you could open each chapter with a thought provoking question or a startling statistic that show where your audience is now (before reading your book.) Many authors begin with a short analogy or story. Whatever you decide to open with, create an attention getter to hook your reader.

5. Prepare a thesis statement: After your short introduction including your hook (opening statement), write your thesis. Keep it simple; let your readers know what benefits await them if they keep reading. For example, one author friend uses sizzling bullet points to entice the reader into the chapter. You may place them right below quote or directly below introduction.

6. Write 7 to 10 points: Next, you may be write lessons or present tools used to achieve the goal presented in the introduction. Condense your material as you develop each point. Some lessons may require one paragraph and others may need several.

7. Include case studies: Incorporate one or more story form case studies that support the chapter's central idea.

8. Add self-evaluation tools: Add brief questions that permit readers to measure their progress with each of the principles described inside the chapters.

9. Summarize your chapter. Each chapter may end with four to eight paragraphs that summarize the central idea and supporting points. Don't forget to hold the carrot out at the end: insert 1-2 sentences at the end of your summary to entice your readers with benefits waiting in the next chapter.

10. Use engagement tools. Create active participants of your book readers using engagement tools like worksheets and note sheets. Make lists, questions to ponder or boxed tips to actively engage your readers instead of allowing them to be observers.

Step out of your comfort zone and create a yellow brick road for each chapter. Use the simple template above and before you know it you'll speed write your book to completion. Enjoy the journey. Life is made easier.
About the Author
Earma Brown, 13 year author and book writing coach
Get a free Book Writing Course when you sign-up for iScribe newsletter on book writing, publishing and marketing. Send any email to iscribe@bookwritinghelp.com or visit her at How to Write a Book for more book writing resources and tips.
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