Sunday, April 25, 2010

Write a How to Book - Cookie Cutter Writing by Glen Ford

There are many ways to write a book. Sometimes the decision is based on how efficient the technique is. Sometimes it just comes down to what you prefer.

There are two ways which are often lumped together as "following a template" or "the cookie-cutter style of writing". Books written using this method are referred to as formula book. However, that is a simplification. There are really two types of template: the "cookie-cutter book" type and the presentation model. The former applies to the organization of the whole book, while the latter is focused on the presentation of the content.

In this article I'm going to discuss the true formula or cookie-cutter type of writing.

Certainly, a cookie-cutter type of book is an option. Romance writers have been writing formula books quite successfully for many years. In fact, publishers such as Harlequin are quite open about the plot, characters, theme and style which they require from their authors. Creativity exists within the boundaries set by their marketing departments. Computer programs which claim to create an e-book for you often use templates to manage the flow of question and response which generates the book.

There are advantages to using a formula or template. A well-designed template will help to structure your book in a way that speaks to all (or at least most) readers. Once the template has been chosen, the process of writing becomes a matter of choosing what content to include. The template provides the structure and helps to provide a polished organization around which the writer structures his argument. For a new writer they can provide that needed touch of professionalism and guidance.

There are three main disadvantages to a template.

The first is finding good templates. While fiction uses many formulas, finding a non-fiction template is quite difficult. The simple fact is that most non-fiction writers don't use them for their own writing. And if they do use them they consider them proprietary (mine - my precious) and don't release them. Or more likely don't have them except in the author's head. Of course, then they're called habits.

The second disadvantage occurs when a subject and the template don't match up. Some subjects simply need to be written using a different structure than are provided in the templates. One or the other will need to be forced to change.

The third disadvantage is that all your books begin to look the same. Like most people you will begin to use only a few of the available templates and your books will begin to look as though they came off an assembly line.

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Glen Ford is an accomplished consultant, trainer and writer. He has far too many years experience as a trainer and facilitator to willingly admit.

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