18 July 2009

Plot for a Non-fiction, How-to Book

Plot as a noun is what happens in a story. More specifically, the plot of a story is the dramatic action that transforms the main character and provides meaning. 

Plot as a verb is both to represent the plot of a story on a graph and connect the scenes (Plot Planner) and / or to formulate a plan with purpose.

For fiction writers and memoirists, I work with plot as both a noun and often as a verb, too. The writer tells me the scenes and/or ideas they have for their story. I assess their piece on both the plot and structural level either by plotting out the scenes on a Plot Planner or in the form of notes. I also offer guidance toward coherence and the continuity of their piece.

When I work with writers on a non-fiction project, I work only with plot as a verb = I help the writer formulate a plan with purpose.

"How-to" books are the biggest selling non-fiction books on the market today. More and more people, be they writers or not, are finding that their expertise can be turned into a book and sold either in the traditional form = a New York publishing house or in the more current form = as an eBook on the Internet.

The latest project involves a writer who knows more about her field -- a cutting edge, up and coming phenomenon -- than anyone else I have ever met. Her enthusiasm and knowledge is so contagious, I have to consciously direct myself to keep on task for her project when what I really want to do is pump her for information about all my personal ideas and projects and dreams!

Conflict of interest? Perhaps, but this writer, for all her passion and knowledge, desperately needs help to keep on track. In order for her to complete her book, which has the potential to be a best-seller both in the traditional route and the more current form, she knows herself well enough to know she needs help.

She is eager. She knows how powerful the final product can / will be. However, the instant she thinks about the book as a whole, she breaks down, becomes overwhelmed, and quits. 

Organization and accountability are the keys to her success. 

She craves discipline. Someone to take her by the hand and walk her through the process step-by-step. She demands blinders to put on. Given specific homework. My job is to break down the whole into manageable parts. I feel incredibly honored to be chosen as her guide...