The Premonition by Seth King — Greg awakens from a bad dream convinced that something awful is going to happen that day. His older sister insists that he's reacting to nothing more than an overactive imagination. Proving that his nightmare was indeed a psychic premonition will come at a terrible price. A Tale of Two Teachers takes a humorous look back at the contrasting styles of her two sixth grade teachers.
Kymberlee Miller. Caitlind L. Geoffrey Chaucer. Whitney Wallace's Unbelievable Family History. Susan G. Make Believe. Angela Hope. Callum Woodward. Lesley Choyce. The Jericho Papers. Steven Roberts. It's Not Always Easy. Danica Myerson. The President's Own. A Freak's Journey. Seth King. The Premonition.
Loewe Beginning in , Edge. After reading the book, espe- cially in the context of an academic convention, Drew suggested on social media that the ield of writing studies should publish its own collective efort to name particularly unhelpful or backward ideas and argue directly to the public about them. Cheryl replied right away that she would be on board, and thus this project was born. These publics deserve clearly articulated and well-re- searched arguments about what is not working, what must die, and what is blocking progress in current understandings of writing.
This collection is an attempt by a varied and diverse group of writing scholar—teachers to trans- late our specialized knowledge and experiences about writing for a truly wide set of audiences, most of whom will never read the scholarly journals and books or attend conferences about this topic because of the closed nature of such publications and proceed- ings.
In keeping with the public purpose of these writings, it was important to us that it be published open-access. Because there are so few options for trade-like academic books that are open access, we decided—in consultation with the authors of this collection— to publish Bad Ideas About Writing as an open educational resource through the Digital Publishing Institute, which Cheryl directs. We intend this work to be less a bestiary of bad ideas about writing than an efort to name bad ideas and suggest better ones.
Some of those bad ideas are quite old, such as the archetype of the inspired genius author, the ive-paragraph essay, or the abuse of adjunct writing teachers. Others are much newer, such as computerized essay scoring or gamiication. Some ideas, such as the supposed demise of literacy brought on by texting, are newer bad ideas but are really instances of older bad ideas about literacy always being in a cycle of decline.
Yet the same core questions such as what is good writing, what makes a good writer, how should writing be assessed, and the like persist across contexts, technologies, and eras. The project has its genesis in frustration, but what emerges is hope: hope for leaving aside bad ideas and thinking about writing in more productive, inclusive, and useful ways. The individual entries, which we came to dub as both opin- ionated encyclopedia entries and researched mini-manifestos, ofer syntheses of relevant research and experience along with cross-ref- erences to other entries that take up related subjects.
Introduction 3 The authors of these entries are often published experts in these ields, so searching for their other work at a library or online will produce additional information on these topics. We have provided keywords for each entry as well, which correspond to the academic terms that would appear in other peer-reviewed, published research on these topics. The entries cohere around eight major categories of bad ideas about writing that are tied to the production, circulation, cultural use of, evaluation, and teaching of writing in multiple ways.
Without forcing a weak consensus or lattening out the indi- viduality of the chapters, together they ofer a practical, action-ori- ented group of rational manifestos for discontinuing unhelpful or exclusionary ideas about a subject and activity that all have a stake in. We hope that the collection is a conversation-starter, not a conversation-stopper, and we hope that it provides a catalog of support for productive conversations about how and why to stop the bad ideas about writing and start the good. A colleague from another department asked me what my area was.
A popular view of rhetoric is that it is a straightforward model of how communication should work: A person can speak the truth simply by using words that refer to true things in the world. If she chooses not to use sentences illed with words that refer to true things in the world, then she is engaged in rhetoric. Rhetoric, in this view, is something you add on to sentences such as meta- phor that decorates and obscures communication.
Many people believe that the addition of more complicated words obscures the meaning of the sentence. Rhetoric, to them, is something that hides the truth. If you look at the two sentences, though, you can see that the elabo- rated, supposedly more rhetorical one communicates quite clearly. But the same is true of the simpler sentence—there might not be a cat; it might not be on a mat. Rhetoric is what we layer onto the proposition.
People who believe that rhetoric hides meaning believe that we could return to Eden by using simple, plain, and rheto- ric-free language. Therefore, we can trust plain language and should treat complicated language with suspi- cion. In other words, this simple belief shows that an idea can be untrue and persuasive at the same time. It is also interesting that the master deceivers have generally relied on simple, yet false, claims. And rhetoric has a variety of deinitions. It was irst used in Platonic dialogues with very little precision.
It comes from the Greek word for a person with a certain role in the Athenian Assembly rhetor. It is believed that it was Plato who added the -ic later. Do not make a speech. Of course, Socrates makes a lot of speeches in Platonic dialogues. They were taught by a man named Aristotle. On the other hand, Aristotle, who was a teacher of rheto- ric, neither deined rhetoric as style nor as something you add to language.
He described it as a discipline and a skill that enables you to see the available means of persuasion. For Aristotle, rheto- ric is about public speaking to large groups, and it is diferent from philosophy. So, he did share those two assumptions with Plato. He thought that it could get us to the truth, but that it could also be used to deceive. It depends on the motives of the person using it. Aristotle loved syllogisms, and seems to have believed that all reasoning could be done through them.
In philosophy, to get to the truth, you try to begin with a universally valid major premise e. Then you have a more speciic proposi- tion related to that premise e. There are no universally valid major premises about tyrants that will help us igure out what we need to do now and here to assess Philip. We must rely on what is probably true. Aristotle, being an astute observer, noticed that people argued about diferent things in similar ways. If I am making a speech trying to persuade people to become more active in politics, I might argue from precedent listed as 11 of his 28 lines , or argue that the consequences of political activism are good 13 , or point out inconsistencies in the argument for political quietism 22 , and so on.
I might spend all my time trying to show that political activ- ism is good because political quietism is bad. I might, however, make that just part of one speech, in which I move from how good it is to be politically active to a moving description of the tragedies associated with political quietism. Or, I might make it one para- graph, or one sentence. Rhetoric is a way of thinking.
It is not just something added to a thought derived by other means. Does that mean that rhetoric is always good? Of course not. Rhetoric is a contingent, pragmatic, and generally but not always verbal way of approaching problems we face as members of commu- nities. It is the cause as well as the consequence of thought. Continually presenting and interpreting issues in that divided way will reinforce our sense that things really are divided into two. We might then act in ways that divide things into two—we might believe that everyone is either an ally or an enemy, and thereby alienate neutral parties.
Thinking and talking about everyone as ally or enemy might mean we are likely to end up in a world in which people end up treating us in that manner. That might be a calculated decision to mislead an audience. We might not dislike the groups as vehemently as we project but we still perform for the audience to get votes, money, popularity, sales, sex, or something else. It is insincere. These types of people might make us feel unsettled and disgusted. They might even come across to us as dangerous. Thus, we call them slimy or a cancer on the body politic.
We proclaim that they spread ideas, weaken our community, and threaten our children. Those metaphors and that rhetoric would feel accurate, and it would convey our meaning—it is not added on; it is not ornamentation. It is what we mean. We can end up killing them or getting them killed because of the rhetoric we used. Sheils ofers a dire vision of late 20th-century Americans who were unwilling to embrace the highly structured rules of the English language and a failing education system that was shoving literacy over the preci- pice.
Literacy, according to Sheils, was in crisis. The notion that literacy is in crisis is nothing new. The United States has fought against the perceived decline in literacy since the 19th century when higher education—indeed, education in general—became more widely available to people who were not wealthy white men. It was during this era that higher education gradually shifted away from its narrow periphery that produced clergymen and lawyers.
The Morrill Land-Grant Act of authorized states to use federal lands to build state-supported institutions that focused on agriculture and technology. In response, many of the best univer- sities in the country were established. Colleges and universities began to put greater emphasis on faculty research, moving away from the more teaching-focused traditions of American higher education.
As the purpose of higher education changed and more academic institutions were established, more people began going to college.
The economic and educational backgrounds of new students became more varied. And with each change that was witnessed in students, technology, and media, academics and non-academics alike bemoaned the decline of literacy. The perennial literacy crisis has been a signiicant contribu- tor to the spread of composition instruction in American universi- ties.
First-year writing emerged in response to a perception among faculty members at colleges and universities as well as members of the broader society outside academia that high schools were not providing adequate instruction in writing and reading, so high school graduates were underprepared for the rigorous demands of academic writing.
At Harvard University, the faculty and admin- istration decided that the crisis in student preparation required a temporary solution, a stopgap until high schools could improve the quality of writing instruction and subsequently send students to college who did not struggle to write clear, coherent, and gram- matically correct prose. That temporary solution in the s was English A, a freshman composition course that instantly became a model for other institutions across the country. The courses envisioned as temporary have since become a staple of American higher education.
The academic ield of writing studies owes its growth throughout the 20th century to public distress that literacy is failing. Blame for the collapse of literacy shifts from high-school teach- ers to technology, television, Internet, smart phones, laptops, and tablets—the same technology we often hope will rescue us from illiteracy—to a lack of adequate funding for teacher education and the institutions that provide literacy instruction.
Since education has become more readily available to people of color and the lower middle and working classes, the demand for literacy instruction has increased. Writing instruction as a means of improving the literacy of the diverse people living and working in the United States is a worthwhile endeavor. When framed as a response to the literacy crisis, writing instruc- tion cannot help but carry a connotation of a desperate response to an epidemic.
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One of the chief beliefs associated with the myth of the literacy crisis is that writing instruction is basically a curricu- lar Band-Aid, an inoculation against illiteracy that will soon go the way of smallpox and polio vaccines. Yet, well over a century after its origination, composition remains a vital part of higher educa- tion, not just surviving but lourishing as writing instructors have developed new approaches to writing instruction in light of the ever-shifting literacy needs of the American populace.
The ield of writing studies has developed many excellent strat- egies for teaching composition that encourage students to relect on their own writing processes, to interact with other readers and writers, and to produce complex texts in media beyond alphabetic writing. However, scholars have also repeatedly asserted that a single course or two cannot ix student writing. Since the s, scholars such as Peter Elbow, Donald Murray, James Britton, and Mina Shaughnessy have shown that writing is not a skill people simply gain and attain. In recent years, scholars such as Kathleen Blake Yancey, Anis Bawarshi, Mary Jo Reif, and Elizabeth Wardle have argued that writing teachers must face the challenge of trans- fer, the idea that students often fail to transfer knowledge from one class or ield to another, if irst-year writing is to succeed in its mission of improving student literacy.
Culture now maintains a higher standard for infor- mation literacy and digital literacy in addition to the expectation that students read and write well. Colleges and universities have built many diferent initiatives to continue the work of teaching students to write well by building writing centers to ofer student writers individualized attention and by providing writing across the curriculum programs to teach professors in other disciplines to use writing as a means of helping students learn.
It is so easy to blame K—12 schools for the demise of literacy as we know it. So the courses that have often helped students prepare for the rigor of academic writing and the sophistication of writing informed by knowledge of rhetorical prin- ciples are actually being cut even as the public continues to declare that literacy is in decline. Rather than thinking of writing instruction as a form of triage, inoculation, or clinical diagnostic generated to protect the middle class from the ravages of illiteracy, we beneit from thinking of writing instruction as a means of helping students improve their abilities to engage in public discourse in all its varied forms.
What writing teachers have known for generations is that writing is not an end in itself—it is a method of invention that gives shape to our view of the world and empowers us to engage in discourse with our fellow humans. There are few things more important than that. There is no literacy crisis. Instead, the concept of literacy contin- ues to become more complex as we expect people to know how to produce and understand texts in multiple forms, whether writ- ten, visual, or otherwise. Like all human institutions, education is inherently lawed, and teachers, students, parents and others must always consider ways and initiatives to improve literacy education.
The New London Group, a group of ten scholars, acknowledges that tech- nology plays a signiicant role in how literacy expectations have shifted. Scholars in writing studies have produced a lot of excellent stud- ies that examine the historical relationship between writing instruc- tion and the literacy crisis. Keywords irst-year writing, knowledge transfer, literacy crisis, semiliterates Author Bio Jacob Babb is an assistant professor of English at Indiana University Southeast. He has been teaching composition courses since , including irst-year and upper-level courses in rhetoric, argumentative writing, professional writing, and digital writing at multiple institutions.
He has published articles and book chapters on epideictic rhetoric, writing program administration, and writ- ing assessment. His Twitter handle is JacobSBabb. However, such an anti- quated view of what irst-year writing is and can be only scratches the surface of the kinds of learning possible in a writing classroom. My dentist understands irst-year writing as remedial instruc- tion in language, but this is an outdated description for this univer- sal course in U.
You can actually trace this back to the s, when more and more men and women started attend- ing college. At the time, irst-year writing instructors decided that the best way to provide this new inlux of middle-class profession- als with the tools to succeed in written communication was to focus on correctness and eiciency. However, people in the ield of composition have come to learn a lot about how writing works and how it is best taught in courses like irst-year writing.
As Seth Kahn has shown in this collection, researchers have known since the s that teaching grammar and mechanics does not improve student writing. As writing teachers, the idea that errors are a fact of life has been quite helpful because it has allowed them to prioritize higher order issues in writing like argument, analysis, audience, purpose, and context. Writing is a process of brainstorming, composing, revising, having your work read by others, and then revising again.
This is a complex, in-depth process that goes way beyond correctness. They report that 80 percent of irst-year college students and 50 percent of college seniors have never written a paper longer than 20 pages. For many educated, well-meaning folks interested in higher education, these popular portrayals of writing in the univer- sity only reinforce the idea that irst-year writing is a course that trains students to churn out page academic essays, or worse, that these are examples of intellectual rigor in irst-year writing.
When writing instructors attempt to do otherwise, they are often met with opposition and charges of attempting to indoc- trinate their students and politicize the classroom. Conservative website Minding the Campus describes this as little writing, but plenty of activism. In fact, irst-year writing teachers are often scapegoats for political debates that extend beyond the writing classroom.
So it is important to note that there are politi- cal dimensions to the debate about what irst-year writing should teach, and ramiications for wanting to push the boundaries. On the contrary, courses in rhetoric and composition can be very helpful in allowing students to practice academic-level reading and writing in other disciplines, and this often helps students better understand the various kinds of writ- ing they are bound to encounter in the university. However, the idea that irst-year writing exists to train students to write correctly does everyone a disservice. It obscures all the other opportunities for learning in irst-year writing that go way beyond the production of essays that are academic in nature.
For one, academic writing is context-dependent. Writing is always in particular. Also, while irst-year writing can teach students basic skills in conducting research or structuring arguments, it is quite limiting to say that these skills are only speciic to academic writing in general. In fact, we might be better of thinking of irst-year writing as a course in the practice of citizenship than a course in writing academically. I would argue that society needs students skilled in civic discourse now more than ever. One only has to look to the so-called exemplars of civic discourse—our politicians and other public igures—as evidence.
And while this may make for good television for some , it promotes a pernicious argumentative style that teaches students that winning a debate is more important than exploring their biases, increasing their empathy, and accepting diferences. That is why it might be better to imagine irst-year writing not as a remedial course in academic writing, but as a productive space for respectful argument. In fact, by having students practice making claims and ofering counterarguments in a range of contexts, irst- year writing works like no other course to promote empathy, ethics, and compassion in public discourse.
First-year writing also works like no other course to push students to explore the possibilities of language, to work with new and uncomfortable ideas and genres, and to analyze important issues and how they are argued in the public sphere. Part of this means getting students to develop better methods of writing and reading in digital environments, which involves discerning what philosopher Harry Frankfurt has called bullshit. And being able to sift through the bullshit to ind reliable sources, meaningful arguments, and a deeper intellectual exchange in public deliberation is a literacy skill developed speciically in irst-year writing.
Getting smarter about the purpose of irst-year writing means vanquishing one of the worst ideas about writing: that it consists of mechanical, prescribed, product-centered, decontextualized instruction in language. At its worst, irst-year writing teaches students that good writing is correct writing, that the course is merely a hurdle, and that its content is mostly basic instruc- tion without much depth or substance. At its highest potential, though, irst-year writing gets at the political and cultural contexts of language use; it asks students to consider how those contexts work to inform their own positions on important public issues; and it pushes students to think about how they can ethically and persuasively position themselves in ongoing public conversations.
Her ideas touched a cultural nerve, landing on the front pages of the New York Times amid charges of political indoctrination. Crowley makes a spirited case that the universal requirement of irst-year writing has severely limited both the course itself and the discipline of composition studies. Scholars in rhetoric and composition have also published excel- lent scholarship on the various paradigm shifts in the evolution of irst-year writing.
These studies not only ofer historical context for the evolution of irst-year writing, but also discuss the relationship between irst- year writing and its public reputation. Keywords citizenship, current traditionalism, freshman composition, process theory, writing studies Author Bio Tyler S. Branson is an assistant professor of English and associ- ate director of composition at the University of Toledo.
He teaches lower- and upper-division writing and rhetoric courses, including irst-year writing, writing for public discourse, and business writ- ing. He also has related interests in civic engagement, histories of rhetoric and composition, and writing pedagogy. He is currently working on a book project focusing on the role of what he calls problematic partnerships in the ield of writ- ing studies.
These are anxious and expensive times. State legislators and policymakers, in their eforts to make higher education faster and more lexible, are busy touting MOOCs massive open online courses and dual-enrollment programs that allow students to take FYC in high school as an alternative to the traditional two-semester, two-course sequence.
Most institu- tions ofer incoming students a way to skip or test out of FYC if they perform well enough on a placement exam. Rather than indulging anxieties about having to take FYC, I try to explain to parents and students how useful the course can be for all incoming college students, regardless of majors or career plans. So natu- rally, you have this seductive idea loating around that by avoiding FYC, one is somehow beating the house. Second, writing is a curious and ancient technology. A degree of some kind is now essential for most upwardly mobile Americans.
All of this is to say that even though it may be a tempting one, for the majority of incoming college students, skipping FYC is a bad idea. Even that which we perceive as cold, hard facts are ultimately iltered through the words and symbols we use to make sense of…well, everything. Thus, the process of learning to write is a matter of broader intellectual development and surviv- al-gear-for-living. Writing, in other words, embraces much more than relaying a preset message to a reader.
As students learn how to approach the written word—how to read it, yes, but also how to read the many voices, ideas, moods, circumstances, and rhythms that inluenced and shaped the words on the page—they begin to understand how language is an essential tool for learning and exploration. FYC is uniquely qualiied to provide this experience for several reasons. Students in FYC, whether in face-to-face f2f or online sections, beneit from the interactions they have with other writers, texts, and their teachers.
College writing teachers consider it an article of faith and a hard-won point of research that texts, meaning, and knowledge are created through the complex social intersections that occur among humans. Meaning, many in rhetoric and composition believe, is an efect of language, a by-product, so to speak, rather than something that exists before or somehow outside of language and what we call the rhetorical situation: reader, writer, purpose, medium, genre, and context.
Researchers who study this phenomenon, such as Linda S. Bergmann and Janet Zepernick, call this concept transfer, for obvious reasons. This awareness of the essential social-ness of language is height- ened through the training FYC students receive in the persuasive and purposeful uses of language.
From the Greeks onward, rhetoric has been central to human afairs. Students in FYC also receive one-on-one coaching that they are not likely to get in other classes. FYC teachers get to know their students by name, lead discussions, coach students on writing-projects-in-progress, and provide crucial support both in the classroom and in one-on- one conferences.
Together, students evaluate texts and explore the many facets of meaning and meaning-making. Crucially, they are provided adequate time and space to do so. For these reasons and more, research shows that FYC encourages student engagement and helps retain students during and after their irst year. About What Good Writing Is 27 FYC provides a space in the all-important irst year for students to nurture the habits necessary for efective writing, research, and inquiry into complex problems and questions. Data from large- scale research studies such as the Stanford Study of Writing and the National Survey of Student Engagement NSSE indicate that the ways of writing students practice in FYC—analyzing, synthesizing, integrating contradictory ideas from multiple sources—promote deep learning, which enables students to integrate what they are learning with what they already know.
Writing in FYC allows students to expand those limits by relentlessly pushing back against the stubborn boundaries between the known and the new. Students can—and often do—use their FYC experience to engage theretofore untapped interests and passions, thus unlocking possibilities for futures they perhaps were not even aware existed. FYC allows students to break out of their educational molds. They can and sometimes do fail the course altogether.
And this, too, can be a good thing. Several forces conspire against the continued success of FYC: decades of waning funding for higher education, bad ideas about writing and how it works, and unethically sourced, lexible labor. In a somewhat more traditional vein, Robert J. About What Good Writing Is 29 Keywords rhetorical listening, contingent labor, deep learning, dual enroll- ment, ethics, irst-year composition, literacy, rhetoric, writing pedagogy Author Bio Paul Cook paulgeecook teaches courses in writing, rheto- ric, and new media theory at Indiana University Kokomo, where he also directs the writing program.
He has been teaching and obsess- ing over FYC since , despite having never taken the course himself, which he deeply regrets. He lives with his dog, Joni, and two annoying cats in Indianapolis, Indiana. Do you doubt this claim? Test it out.
Go to your desk right now and attempt to write something in general. Do not write for any speciic audi- ence, purpose, or context. Just write in general. There is no such thing as writing in general. Many studies of writing have been done— in workplaces, in classes across the college landscape, and in social and civic settings. They tell us that every new situation, audience, and purpose requires writers to learn to do and understand new possibilities and constraints for their writing.
Writing fan iction in Wattpad requires understanding what other fans expect, what fan iction writers and readers think good fan iction is, and what the technological medium supports and allows. The same is true for any other kind of writing—we write in our journals and think of our future selves or anyone who might ind the journal. We write as biologists for other specialists who understand previous ind- ings and value the ideas of some biologists more than others.
About What Good Writing Is 31 There is no writing in general, and thus no single class or work- shop or experience can teach people to write. A better conception of writing is one in which we all remem- ber realistically our own experiences learning to write in difer- ent situations, and then apply that memory to our expectations of what we and others are capable of achieving.
A better notion of how writing works is one that recognizes that after learning scribal skills letters, basic grammatical constructions , everything a writer does is impacted by the situation in which she is writing. And thus she is going to have to learn again in each new situa- tion. Yes, she can apply and repurpose some of what she already knows how to do, but she will have to learn new things and not expect that what she already knows about writing is easily appli- cable in new situations.
Similarly, parents should expect that their child might struggle when writing in a new class, or when moving from high school to college because learning takes time and requires being immersed in the context. Journalists and crit- ics need to remember that texting employs certain conventions that are appropriate for their medium and purpose—and those are not destroying writing in general, because there is no writing in general. If we can remember that there is no writing in general and no magic formula that will help us write well in all situations, we are more likely to be able to use or transfer or repurpose what we know efectively from prior writing situations.
This is because we will be aware of the new context, on the lookout for exam- ples, and willing to accept that struggle and practice are simply a part of learning to write in a new situation. Too frequently, writ- ers attempt to rigidly use what has worked for them in other situ- ations, only to ind out the hard way that such rigid re-use is not appropriate in the new setting. These ideas—that there is no writ- ing in general, that writers always have more to learn, that failing or struggling are a normal part of writing—are some of the many threshold concepts of the discipline of writing studies.
In other words, they are things researchers have learned, and things that will help writers be more efective, if only they can accept them in place of the common cultural assumptions about writing that are not always accurate. There is no writing inoculation, because there is no such thing as writing in general. Rather, it gives all writers permission to keep learning, to fail, and to engage in new kinds of writing in new situations. She has directed the writing program at the University of Central Florida and the University of Dayton, experiences that have contributed to her ongoing interest in how learners use and transfer prior knowledge about writing, and how courses and programs can best help students learn to write more efectively.
She regularly gives talks and workshops around the U. Carillo It may not be an exaggeration to say that the very notion of writ- ing instruction is based on a myth. Writing courses, like courses in many—maybe all—ields, are arranged in what we would call a vertical curriculum with students enrolling irst in introductory courses like freshman English.
Certainly, there are vari- ations of this model, but the structure is largely consistent across American post-secondary institutions in that students are expected to take introductory writing courses before taking more advanced ones. The reason curricula are designed in this way is so that students apply what they learn in those introductory courses to the more advanced courses that follow. This sounds like common sense, no? Yet, it is a myth that students will automatically apply— or transfer the term most often used in educational psychology and composition studies what they learn in their lower-level writ- ing courses to their upper-level ones.
Anecdotally, writing instructors see this all the time: students entering a second-semester writing course as if they had no previous college-level writing course let alone one linked to that second-se- mester course , or students struggling with the writing component of their senior seminars despite their taking the required intro- ductory writing courses and writing-intensive course s in their majors.
Mentally writing in the shower is one of the perks of outlining, because it will get your thoughts percolating. Be sure to keep paper and pens scattered about so you can capture your brilliance the minute it bubbles up, rather than letting all those ideas fade away. This means a finished book in less time!
Keep reading for tips on how to outline different ways. Are you writing a fiction or non-fiction book? Thankfully, there are plenty of relevant tips you can apply in the section about outlining a non-fiction book. Click here to learn more. How to Write a Nonfiction Book Outline. Most non-fiction authors find outlines useful due to the nature of their books.
Generally, works of non-fiction require research and citation of sources although many novels require their own research! These are some of the beneficial methods we recommend for you. This is the main method of outlining that we teach in Self-Publishing School. Write your topic in the center of a piece of paper, then use lines and words to draw as many connections as you can.
Then you can pluck those ideas out of your mindmap and put them into a cohesive book outline. We also recommend doing a mindmap for each chapter you select from your original mindmap. It will help you structure your entire book chapter by chapter. At Self-Publishing School, we encourage students to make a mess with their mindmap.
Regardless of what your mind map looks like in the end, it is an essential element to your book writing process. This mind map will be the jumping off point for you to begin your outline.
In this brief video, Chandler explains how to turn your mindmap into an outline:. A simple book outline is just as it sounds; keep it basic and brief. Start with the title. You can always change the title later—in fact, you probably will—but starting with some kind of title gives you a better idea of where you want your book to go. To get started, first create a complete chapter list. Create a working title for each chapter, and list them in a logical order. Perhaps you find the idea of a written outline confining.