5 ways to fix a book that is too long

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Most nonfiction authors write too much. Let’s talk about what’s probably wrong and how to fix it. How long should your book be? While there is no single correct answer to that question for every book, business books these days tend to come in at around 50,000 to 60,000 words, which generates a book of … Continued

Contributed op-ed case study (3): Planning and writing

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Writing can be easy, provided you prepare properly. I’ll show how that applied to the op-ed I placed in the Boston Globe last Sunday. Let’s start by talking about two types of writers, planners and pantsers, a concept I borrow from fiction writers. Planners are the people who map everything out ahead of time, in … Continued

On fat outlines and shitty first drafts

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The idea that you would just sit down and write a beautiful draft is deluded. The best writers do this on the best days; you, on the other hand, have to work even when you are not the best writer and it is not the best day. You can solve this my way — with … Continued

Writing backward and forward

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There are two challenges with writing anything — flow and impact. The flow problem is this: does each sentence lead into the next, and each paragraph lead into the next, in a way that draws the reader along? The impact problem is this: does the piece take you with ironclad logic to a place where … Continued

How to plan and write pieces of any length

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What’s the best process to write something? The answer depends, more than anything else, on how long it is. You need a plan, but that plan depends on the length of what you’re aiming for. (This advice is for nonfiction. If you write fiction, I’m curious how much the process differs for you.) This post … Continued

Four steps that enable you to write in flow

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I remember editing people at my last job. I would give them the charge on what to do, and then check back two days later. “How much did you write?” I would ask. “One paragraph,” they’d say. You will never achieve flow that way! Flow is effortless writing. You know how it feels. You sit … Continued

Fat outlines help you write without anxiety (Ask Dr. Wobs)

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When you’ve completed most of the research for a writing project, but before writing, you should create a “zeroth draft” — a fat outline. Fat outlines are both easy and helpful, functioning as an onramp to your writing process. But as today’s Ask Dr. Wobs question shows, fat outlines are unfamiliar to people. Dear Dr. Wobs: What … Continued

Editing week, Level 2: Editing structure

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You’ve got a decent idea, now write it! If only it were so easy. Poor, uneven, or murky structures can sink you before you’ve started. Today I describe how editors and writers can collaborate on the best structure for a 1,000-word-plus piece, before anybody actually begins writing. What is structural editing? The structural edit is … Continued