Back in September 2009, I wrote two posts about structure. The first was called Building a Book and the second was called Turning Structure on It Head. I still like those posts, but now I have more to say on the topic.
I’ve been continuing to think about structure. A lot. A whole lot. The truth is that until you have a structure, you don’t have a book. As nonfiction becomes more visually sophisticated, the way authors present the material is just as important as the information itself.
Structuring a book—making decisions about organization, format, design, and art is a highly creative process. And while editors and art directors and photographers and illustrators all play a role in making the final choices about how the book will look, the process starts with the author.
In the last few years, I find that publishers want me to provide much more than just the words. They wan tto understand my complete vision for the book. That’s a lot of responsibility. And that’s why I’ve been thinking about structure so much lately.
Because I’m a writer, writing is the best way for me to solidify my ideas. So I’ve decided to take you along on my journey as I think deeply about structuring nonfiction.
In my Turning Nonfiction on Its Head post, I said that I often begin writing using a traditional structure. But that as I wrote, I was struck by inspiration and then started approaching the material from a different angle.
That’s no longer true. Now I begin thinking about structure from the moment the idea strikes me. I think about it the whole time I’m doing research too.
As I gather information, I’m searching for a unique way to present it to kids. I’m looking for something that is fresh and fun. If the same old same old bores me, I know it will bore kids too. They deserve better than that. Actually, they demand better than that.
I want to surprise kids in some way and make them think and wonder as they read. I want to make them say, “Oh, wow!” How do I do that? You’ll find out in a series of posts that begin next week. In the mean time, why don’t you start thinking about how you make decisions about structure. I’d love to hear your thoughts.