DEMO: Step it out exercise to intuitively discover your outline and content
Step it out
Use this exercise to tease out your outline
This is a walking, using your intuition and making sense process, which will really help cement your chapter outlines.
Have your mobile phone or recording device handy. Ask questions about each chapter as you walk up and down. I find writing this down on a A3 sheet and laying it on the floor very helpful.
- What is this chapter about?
- Why is it important for my reader to know this?
- How can they do the same, or what exercises can I share?
- What if – what are the benefits of following the advice in this chapter, or the consequences of not ?
- Thinking points - what do I want my reader to think about?
This is a valuable exercise for getting to the heart of your book outline.
Print out the book outline so that you have the questions to hand or scribble a big one like the image above.
Discovering your book outline
- Turn on your voice recorder, make sure you have enough space to record
- Using one sheet of paper per chapter, start laying the A4 sheets out on the floor
- Either lay them in a straight line or in a circle
- As you step onto each sheet, pause to reflect, close your eyes and go inside and to get a feeling, sense or image of what the chapter might be about
- Using the voice recorder talk out loud and ask your what, why, how and what if questions
- As you step onto the next chapter, consider if and how they logically flow into each other. Can you feel the connection? Make a note of any connecting words or ideas.
- When you get to the end, look back and review the flow of your chapters. What else comes to mind?
- Walk around looking at them, getting a bird’s eye view, what other words or ideas come to you?
Fully engage your senses and, as you step from sheet to sheet, think about what the chapter is about and try to get a feel for it. If you find it difficult to feel then use another way (seeing, hearing, thinking) to make sense of each chapter
CAUTION: If you are writing an emotionally sensitive book, do not stand on the chapter sheets; observe them by walking alongside. You want to be dissociated from the content.
At the end
Listen to your recording, make notes and get ready for your brainstorming wall. If you are unable or do not want to do the brainstorming wall go straight to mind-mapping.
Remember you can adapt these exercises to suit you.