by Cory Hott January 26, 2024
So you want to improve your book writing skills and learn how to be a writer? That’s fantastic! Writing can be an incredibly rewarding craft that allows you to express your creativity, share important ideas, and even make a living if you pursue it professionally. The best part is that anyone can develop writing skills and learn techniques for how to write well with practice and persistence.
In this guide, we’ll give you a high-level overview of some core book writing skills required to be a good writer. You’ll learn how to tell a story that grabs your readers’ attention (including storytelling examples!), the difference between passive voice and active voice, how to write a transition sentence, the best book structure, and other writing strategies to level-up your book.
Whether you want to learn how to write a book with no experience or improve writing skills you already possess, unlocking better writing strategies provides a foundation to develop your own creative voice and style over time.
While there is no set formula for how to write well, our goal is to equip you with knowledge of fundamental skills so you can organically improve through ongoing reading and writing. If you dedicate energy to these teachings, we know you’ll achieve your writing aspirations.
Let’s dive in!
Establishing Credibility through Case Studies
Case studies are a powerful tool for demonstrating credibility, building authority, and connecting with your ideal readers. If you’re a professional author with an active online consulting or coaching program, writing an effective case study can be the difference between scaring off potential clients or welcoming them with open arms.
You see, most people write case studies as a boring piece of corporate literature, providing a simple recounting of facts. Instead, imagine your client as the main character. This should be someone who is confronted with an urgent problem in the beginning—something your product or service promises to solve. Describe their struggle in vivid detail to tap into your reader’s empathy. Craft a narrative arc building up to the middle where your heroic client discovers your offering and decides to take a chance.
Then, walk through the harrowing journey of how using your product or service led the main character through transformation, step-by-step, culminating in the happy ending where the problem was solved. Let this narrative captivate while subtly emphasizing the value you provide without overtly selling.
Remember, you should use vivid details throughout, just as if you were writing fiction. Paint the portrait of your client, describe the color of the sky on the day you first met, and show the reader how the client reacted when the problem was solved.
This storytelling approach makes case studies memorable while enabling potential future clients to see themselves reflected in the transformation.
Passive Voice vs. Active Voice
Understanding the difference between passive and active voice is key to more effective writing. Passive voice occurs when the subject of the sentence has an action done to it, whereas active voice shows the subject doing the action.
For example, a passive voice sentence would say, “The ball was thrown by the boy.” The ball (the subject) has the action of throwing done to it by the boy. In contrast, active voice would say, “The boy threw the ball.” The boy (the subject) is doing the throwing action.
Active voice comes across more directly, energetically, and evokes clearer pictues for readers. Passive voice tends to create distance between the subject and the verb. Since vivid writing transports readers directly into scenes, active voice usually works best. In the words of Stephen King, “Passive voice equals timid voice—and timidity never makes for good writing.”
Passive Voice Examples and Active Voice Examples
Let’s dive deeper into more examples of passive and active voice.
- Passive: The dog was petted by the young girl.
- Active: The young girl petted the dog.
- Passive: The race was won by the runner.
- Active: The runner won the race.
As you write your book, read sentences aloud to catch unintended passive voice. Changing to active voice will help engage readers from sentence to sentence.
How to Tell a Story: Storytelling Examples
Storytelling is a powerful skill even for nonfiction writing. While your self-help book focuses on teaching readers the information they need to improve their lives, incorporating storytelling techniques will make the content more compelling, memorable and enjoyable to read.
One technique is to create an overarching plot structure building up to the resolution of the main problem your reader faces. Introduce this problem at the beginning as the core conflict your book addresses. Craft characters—either fictional or based on real persona examples—that model the transformation process step-by-step, making successes feel earned through struggle.
Suspense can be created even in tutorials and how-tos by withholding the final solution or technique until late in the book, after covering more basic skills first. This builds anticipation and curiosity around your ultimate offering.
While your core content remains nonfiction instructional material, using some fiction techniques can make it feel like readers are being swept away into an immersive world. Structure the flow using plot points, show personal transformations through characters, and keep people hooked chapter to chapter by deliberately unfolding the teachings.
How to Write Well: Transition Sentences
Transition sentences are critical to effectively moving between ideas in your book writing. Without proper transitions, your content will feel choppy and disjointed, even if you present excellent information.
Strong transitions allow you to seamlessly tie concepts together, showcasing how ideas link. This enhances flow. For your readers, good transitions lead them smoothly from one detail to the next, never interrupting the journey or jolting them out of engagement.
Effective transition sentences summarize the previous paragraph’s main point before introducing what comes next. For example, “Now that we’ve covered the importance of identifying your niche, let’s discuss crafting the perfect book title to attract that niche.” This demonstrates connectivity while orienting readers.
Never abruptly jump between topics. Find the connective tissue tying advice together. Maintain context with summarizing transition sentences focused on where readers just were, bridging to where they go next.
With mindful flow and purposeful progression of ideas aided by transitions, you guide readers on an effortless discovery filled with “aha” moments building toward your book’s key teachings. Smooth writing equals smooth reading.
Book Structure: Book Organization Skills
Before you begin writing your book, organizing the structure is an essential first step, only after you have determined your ideal reader. All too often, aspiring authors let ideas and chapters pile up in a disjointed mess lacking coherence for readers. Planning your book outline after you’ve determined who your reader is will prevent that disjointed mess.
Approach book structure by stepping back and asking yourself—what is the reader’s journey? What is the transformation they should experience from beginning to end? Map your chapters and sections accordingly to best facilitate this.
Organize content to bring readers along an exponential learning climb. Introduce concepts logically, starting with more accessible ideas building up to advanced teachings so readers have the right foundation first. Structure things to provide the background needed before more complex topics.
Categorize advice into sections or even separate it over multiple shorter books in a series. This segmentation makes the material far less overwhelming. Organizing information into digestible parts is key.
With mindful book structure planning, you can craft a smooth experience guiding readers step-by-step through layered comprehension. The sequence, format and flow should make the journey intuitive and exciting. Map it out early.
Picking Your Book Topic
Your book topic is one of the most crucial decisions you’ll make as an author. It determines who will want to read your book, how easy it will be to find and reach your target audience, and even how motivated you feel to write it. Not to mention, picking the right topic requires balancing your own interests with reader demand, organizing a mountain of book ideas, and reframing your focus around helping readers. It can feel overwhelming, but having a systematic approach makes it manageable.
Follow research-backed tips to choose a winning topic tailored to your goals and audience. Brainstorm extensively and niche down – today’s readers have shorter attention spans, so split material into multiple, shorter, focused books around 40,000 words each. Conduct market research to identify high-demand topics and questions searchers are asking. Frame your book around resolving reader problems rather than just telling your story. Organize ideas into easily navigable folders or spreadsheet tabs to prevent losing focus mid-story. And remember—you don’t have to pick just one topic. The “right order” is whatever excites you most right now.
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