Structure

For when you know what you want to write about, but you're not sure what form your book should take.

Today, we’re taking a look at structure. Sometimes, you know what you want to write about, but you may not be sure what form your book should take.

Your book should take us on a journey – it doesn’t have to be a physical one, but can be an emotional or philosophical one. We want to be swept up by your narrative and share your passion for the subject.

A linear structure is one way to do this. Lots of our recent favourites follow the structure of the seasons, taking the reader on a journey which takes the course of a year. This is one way to create structure and many nature writing books have followed this pattern which really suits the narrative.

You could choose to intersperse different timelines, weaving together different strands of your life story. You can follow chronology. You can structure by theme or themes. Or you can follow the research to unlock new information, and this will naturally bring shape to your book. You could write parts in a diary or journal entry format. You can structure by place, or by creatures, or parts of the body. Your book may be made up of lots of different fragments, images or poetry that build to something bigger and cohesive.

Writing about nature doesn’t automatically mean that every single word of your book has to reference nature. Rather, nature is part of the narrative of the book – as much as the memoir element, or travel element, or any other theme. Have a look at the books on your bookshelves and notice how the nature writing or general non-fiction books are structured. If it’s a book you’ve particularly loved, think about its structure and shape and try to see how the primary and secondary themes are organised.

For us, a great structure means that we feel rooted and immersed in your story, able to follow you on your journey or exploration. It should help the reader, rather than hinder.

Writing is also a great way to find a structure which works for you. Remember that a large part of writing is re-writing. Sometimes, it’s only when you’ve put the words down on the page that you can see which parts aren’t quite working yet. There is a lot of work that goes into a book. The books you buy have likely gone through many drafts before you start to read them so don’t get discouraged by the finished product which will have gone through all the different stages of redraft.

Remember that your book is a work in progress.