Stories are bacon

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Like bacon, stories will make everything you write more compelling. They are the most important element of your nonfiction book. (If eating bacon is offensive to you, this metaphor won’t work for you, so don’t read on.) Here is why stories are like bacon: A little goes a long way No one wants a meal … Continued

Opening paragraphs of book proposals that sold

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I see lots of book proposals. Somebody told a bunch of these writers to start with “Overview.” Those proposals leave me nodding off. They’re a lot less likely to sell, too. Your proposal should grab the editor by the throat from the first word. Your proposal should shout, “This person is an awesome writer!” with … Continued

Nonfiction writers: Start every chapter with a story

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I don’t care whether you’r writing a memoir, a historical narrative, or a business book full of advice. You should start every chapter with a story. Why? Because stories draw people in. It’s that simple. Here are the starts of some chapters in my first book Groundswell. Would you want to read these chapters? When … Continued

Nonfiction writing: It’s narratives all the way down.

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Nonfiction writing is made of stories. All of it. Advice. Logical reasoning. Analysis. It’s all stories. And if you don’t understand what a narrative is, no one will read what you write, and no one will be able to benefit from it. I’m editing a nonfiction manuscript right now in which the parts aren’t written … Continued

Where do you find stories for your book? (Ask Dr. Wobs)

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Business books are made of stories. Where do they come from? Here’s today’s question: Dear Dr. Wobs  I am writing a business book and want to supplement my own experiences with relevant business anecdotes. (Google is virtually useless, although maybe I’m just doing it wrong.) Any suggestions? — Jack Finding stories We’re hard-wired to remember … Continued

Should you start with a story or a lede?

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The best way to hook an audience is to start with a story. The best way to get people to read what you write is with a descriptive title and a few summary sentences (or as journalists call it, a lede). How do you resolve these contradictory pieces of advice? When I got this question … Continued

Business books are stories. Here’s how to write one.

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Most business books are boring because there are no people — just endless rambling on about strategy. You need people and stories to make them come alive. I wrote my first business book proposal in 2005. It was for a book called “The End of TV as We Know It,” and it reflected my decade … Continued

All narratives are biased, as the Benghazi report coverage reveals

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Four Americans died in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. Yesterday’s “final” 800-page report about it from the U.S. House Select Committee is biased. So are the response from House Democrats, the coverage from Fox News, the coverage from CNN, and every other article. Why? Because all stories are inherently biased. It’s the nature of the form. Here’s … Continued