Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Outline: Impossible

Because I recently lost a part-time gig, I spent a majority of last week trying to find (and applying for) a new gig. One other thing I did was constantly rework an outline for a nonfiction book I have been doing research on for some time.

Originally, this book was slated for an imprint of an indie publisher. I liked their books and felt this was something I could write. Unfortunately, they rejected my proposal, so I rewrote the sample chapters then left it alone for a while. However, I recently felt it was time to finish this book and get it out there, so I’m spending these last months of the year wrapping up my research for this book.

However, it would seem that the other idea I had for this new kind of book just wasn’t working anymore. It seemed like it was too complex of a book to capture the attention of a particular audience. I mean, the content I wanted to put into it was just all over the place. It was not really focused on one particular aspect of this particular subject.

So I spent some time revising and revising the outline with several drafts until I felt it was satisfactory. As I decided on what this book should cover, I considered two things: What was already out there about a particular chapter topic and, second, if I was the right person to write on that particular topic. I had to ask myself what I could bring to this book and what kind of research I could put into it that would fly with my readers. I am not prepared to pass myself off as an expert on a topic if I am not an expert – nor will I try to be. I have to keep everything in layman’s terms because, after all, I am not THE expert on the book’s subject or someone known for this time of thing. I also had to keep that point in mind as I revised the outline.

One other thing I asked myself as I revised the outline was this: What will readers hope to learn from reading this book? What will readers get out of it? I have to keep in mind what exactly this book is about, and what expectations this may spark in my readers.

The current outline I have for this book now seems to be okay. It’s not too academic and it’s more focused on the book’s purpose. Basically, it seems to have more appeal to the average reader.

I feel prepared to resume work on this book with the outline I now have. That may change later on as I write more of the book, of course, but for now, at least I have a good starting point to begin with.

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