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GOLD 9 Writing Tips for a Killer Non-Fiction Book

Discussion in 'Business Models, Niches, Industries' started by MJ DeMarco, Aug 18, 2015.

  1. MJ DeMarco
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    MJ DeMarco Raving Lunatic Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    A few weeks ago I read @Vigilante 's upcoming book and gave him a list of editorial suggestions. He thought it would be a good idea for me to post those suggestions here for all the writers as he found them incredibly valuable.

    Keep in mind that this is for published non-fiction (not ad hoc writing here), but some of it could be relevant to works of fiction as well.

    Here are those suggestions.

    1) CREATE A FRAMEWORK EARLY FOR YOUR BOOK WHICH SERVES AS LOGIC FLOW

    Frame the work against something visual, a roadmap, that the reader can follow. Perhaps a flow chart or something presented in the beginning, and as you move through it, it represents the flow and guideline for the reader.

    In TMF, my framework consisted of the 3 roadmaps; Sidewalk, Slowlane, and Fastlane.

    2) GIVE YOUR CONCEPTS A NAME

    Label your concepts uniquely to you so that if your book becomes big, those concepts become synonymous with you. Despite my name being ripped and copied, anytime someone says "Fastlane" as it relates to entrepreneurship, they know they are talking about my concept. Likewise, when someone says "Slowlaner!" or "Sidewalker!" we all know what they are talking about.

    3) EDITING: LESS IS MORE

    One thing I learned in my studies of publishing is that LESS is MORE. In other words, your objective with every single sentence is to make it the strongest it can be. This is how that is done:

    • The best sentence is the sentence that conveys your thoughts in the least amount of words.
    • Minimize use of adverbs, “very, literally, some, etc.” as these weaken the concepts. For me, this is something I’ve always struggled with but in the end, it is what constitutes good writing.
    • Think that every word you add to a sentence costs you $100. Every word removed saves you $100.

    For example, take these two sentences. The first is unedited and a winded, foggy way to say it, the second is edited and a better way.

    UNEDITED
    Treating employees like they had an interest in the financial gain of the business when they didn't resulted in an extremely high SGA (selling and general administrative costs – every cost that goes into the business, excluding your product margins), a sense of entitlement, and absolutely zero quantifiable increase in employee loyalty or productivity.

    EDITED
    Treating employees like they had a financial interest in the business resulted in a sense of entitlement and a high selling/general administrative cost (SGA, costs excluding product margins) and resulted in zero benefits to employee loyalty or productivity.

    Another example:

    UNEDITED
    I am now set to be as effective from this public computer I am on in Laguna Beach as I am can be in Phoenix.

    EDITED
    I am as effective on this public computer in Laguna as I am in Phoenix.


    4) REPLACE PASSIVE VERBS WITH ACTION VERBS

    Switch passive blah verbs to active, stronger verbs that incite a greater visual impact.

    "I make money while I sleep" WINS over "I am making money while I sleep."

    "While I watched fountains dance WINS over "While I was watching fountains dance...

    "People ordered my products" WINS over "People were ordering my products..."

    Things shipped WINS over Things were shipping...

    UPS delivered WINS over UPS were delivering

    5) STICK TO ONE THOUGHT PER SENTENCE, IF TWO EXIST, MAKE IT SHORT/CLEAR AS POSSIBLE.

    UNEDITED
    Continuing to work at my day job allowed me to take 100% of the proceeds from my brand-new business and reinvest it straight back into the business, and create the snowball rolling down a hill and getting bigger as it rolls effect.

    EDITED
    Continued employment at my day job allowed me to regularly reinvest in my business creating a powerful snowball effect.

    Or:

    Your continued employment creates a powerful snowball effect, allowing regular 100% reinvestment into your growing business.

    6) AVOID BFF CLINGERS: REPETITION OF YOUR FAVORITE PET WORDS

    For example, I noticed "literally" and "germinate" used far too often, sometimes in consecutive paragraphs.


    7) MINIMIZE FLUFFY PHRASES


    A lot of phrases in your prose can be knocked out with one word. Also, unnecessary adjectives or redundancies should be removed.


    EXAMPLE 1: UNEDITED
    When I am advising people about their business startups, I advise them not to follow fifteen wild ideas they have at the same time.

    EDITED
    When I advise people about startups, I tell them don't follow fifteen wild ideas simultaneously.

    REDUNDANCIES

    "business startups" (what other kind of startup is there? Delete business.)
    RAID: "kills bugs dead" (what other kind of 'kill' is there??)

    EXAMPLE 2: UNEDITED

    It is most definitely not easy.


    EDITED
    It's not easy.

    EXAMPLE 3: UNEDITED
    When you write a business plan, you should plan to be cognizant of all your strength and weaknesses.

    EDITED:
    Your business plan should consider both your strength and weaknesses.

    OR

    When writing your business plan, consider your strengths and weaknesses.

    8) TITLING YOUR BOOK

    Your book's main title and subtitle should clearly indicate that content that will be contained in the work. Is your book about sales? Money? Meditation? Your title combination should give both genre clues as well as benefit cues.

    Optimally, your subtitle will be benefit oriented. For example, since TMF is somewhat vague, my subtitle clarifies the content: Crack the Code to Wealth and Live Rich for a Lifetime. It's clear to the reader that the book is about money.

    9) YOU CAN NEVER HAVE ENOUGH EDITORS, BETA-READERS, EYE-BALLS

    And finally, the more eyeballs that critique your book, the better it will become. Leverage several readers/editors before putting out anything. Were they confused on something? What didn't they like? Would they recommend it to a friend, and if not, why?


    Hope you find these helpful.
    Good luck!
    ~ MJ
     
  2. Dwight Schrute
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    Dwight Schrute Ludicrous Speed Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    thx! Rep+
     
  3. Mattie
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    Thank you M.J. This good information you've shared. :)
     
  4. Jesse Dallenbach
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    Hello MJ,

    "Keep in mind that this is for published non-fiction (not ad hoc writing here), but some of it could be relevant to works of fiction as well."

    You should do one solely for fiction writing--I have a feeling there are a lot of budding fiction writers on the forum that need that extra push/guidance that only you can provide. ;-)

    - Jesse
     
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  5. LifeTransformer
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    Very nice thread!

    One thing "I" used to struggle with was using "I" too much, "I"'d always do it, often when "I" didn't need to.

    That was before though, now it's something that is easily avoided by simple re-writing sentences from a slightly different perspective.
    Still getting the hang of it, but doing a lot better these days.

    On the other hand, who believes this statement; "You can never use "You" too many times in a How-To book"?
     
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  6. Andy Black
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    Thanks MJ. Great tips.

    Another overused word is "that".

    UNEDITED
    It often does nothing and is the first word that I remove.

    EDITED
    It often does nothing and is the first word I remove.
     
  7. Andy Black
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    Andy Black Any colour, as long as it's red. Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Oh, and your post is a great example of how whitespace and formatting helps.
     
  8. MJ DeMarco
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    Ha, "that" is definitely still one of my struggles.
     
  9. AndrewNC
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    Thanks for the post, MJ - good stuff.

    Keep going with this thread, and maybe one day it will reach GOLD status ;)

    For the book I'm outlining on mindset - the initial anchors that come to mind for the three concepts would be "Asleep, Aware, Awake" - but after reading this - still seems too generic.

    Did you come up these pre-writing? or did they click when you were writing your content?
     
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  10. Vigilante
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    Do we have any professional editors on the forum? If so, you might want to take out a marketplace ad, as you could probably get some consistent moonlighting work here.
     
  11. MKHB
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    I wouldn't know prose from Frost; but one thing I do know: if Vig's formal writing is half as good as his ad hoc writing, I can't fxxing wait to buy the book.

    300 pages of tough talk and Vigisms, this is gonna get good.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2015
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  12. Veloce Grey
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    Kermit taught you well.
     
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  13. MJ DeMarco
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    MJ DeMarco Raving Lunatic Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    A cubed, or A3?

    Both. There's no rhyme or reason to it. Sometimes it just clicks from the writing flow and sometimes I have these down before I begin. Any common concept which seems to be widely known, but isn't labeled, can get one. In recent years, this has what happened to wannabe entrepreneurs who think logos and business cards equals "startup". We now know these folks as "wantrepreneurs" although I'm not sure who officially coined the phrase. This is a great example of giving your shit and official name.

    And don't be afraid to go back and change things. For example, one of my core concepts just underwent a name change even though its throughout the first 75% of the book. I'm not afraid to go back to change it. What I had was good-- but the revision makes it better.
     
  14. AllenCrawley
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    Thank so much for this! This should really help in writing my blog posts and articles.

    @Vigilante, if I had know about these 9 tips I could have actually been a help. :p
     
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    Thank you MJ!
     
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    Thank you for the amazing thread :)

    Sent from my LG-H631 using Tapatalk
     
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    This helps me a lot when I'm writing my posts. Thank you so much!
     
  18. Mattie
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    Do you have any suggestions for blogs or books you used in discussing this more in detail. :) Kind of was in this process of using three things. Like pokemon go used it for teams, Rowling used it for schools, and Divergent and Hunger Games used it for factions and districts etc. Even in some other movies.
     
  19. Obiwan
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    Definitely, less is more. If your using Word, tick Show Readability Statistics, under Proofing/Options, to get the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, and try and keep you score as low as possible, say between 5 and 7.
     
  20. Sean P
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    Very useful information, not just for writing non-fiction but for any written content.

    I use the free hemingwayapp dot com and prowriting aid(free version) sites when I want to be sure that my self-editing is spot on. Some of the editing prompts on these sites can be an overkill but then you can choose to keep what you want to.
     
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    Verily thank you kind sire for writing this post up for all of us on the forum that are reading it today, I reeeeeeallllly, reeeeeeallllly need help with all of my editing skills that I use to write stuff.

    Again, I reeeeeeallllly thank you for all of your advice and help that comes my way.

    :hilarious:
     
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    Great tips. I am in the editing process of my first non-fiction book, so my finding this thread is very useful.

    Another great tip I found reading Stephen King's book on writing was:

    "The road to hell is paved in adverbs".

    It drives me unbelievably nuts to literally amazingly incredibly annoyingly see so many adverbs in everyone's writing.
     
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  23. KrzyszWawrzyniak
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    Apparently my writing necessitate betterment, although habits transposition entail dedication and sacrifices. Time for changes now arrived.

    Btw: Good choices with your tips, and it would be a great idea to add tenth one: "Avoid starting sentences with: "I", "You", "It", "This", "Me", or similar. Use strong adjectives or verbs instead."

    Much appreciated - applicative tips are always valuable.