Posts tagged organization
So over the last two weeks I’ve talked about the four types of books and why the Content Mapping System works for them – or doesn’t.
While the system isn’t a panacea and it doesn’t work for all books, it does work in most cases for how to books and why to books. In short, most non-fiction.
This is true because most non-fiction books are fact based regardless of their organization. Even if they are a simple collection, they still need to be organized. If they are a how to, they still need to be organized. So it doesn’t matter if they are sequential, fact-based or collections, they are still a set of facts that need to be organized. And the best system to do that is the Content Mapping System you can find here in video form (for free) or here in book form (not free).
A minor exception to the above rule is sequential based books. With sequential or process based books you need to add pretty pictures. In other words, flow or process diagrams. But the basic Content Map system works quite well and does allow for adding this type of information. (Yes, believe it or not it is a function of the tool. We don’t talk about it very much but it is part of the proper use of the tool.)
The major exception to the above are time based books. These are histories, (auto-)biographies and fiction. Because they are time based they need a tool which is time based … in other words a time chart based system. Sorry but the Content Mapping system just isn’t the right system for those books.
A couple of final comments.
First, an historical analysis is not a time based book. It is primarily a fact based book. Having said that you may want to use a time chart to help document the occurence of the actions which you are analysing. This leads to the second comment.
The system allows you to use pictures and diagrams when they communicate the information better than words. Don’t be afraid to use them! After all a picture is worth a thousand words. This also applies within your book. Sometimes words are not the best tools to communicate with. Sometimes pictures are. Never be afraid of diagrams. And don’t forget to use boxes … those little quick fact summary boxes you see in some books or at the side of articles. They help to seperate the book and to emphasize key facts.
So enjoy the Content Mapping System and learn to write books in less than 24 hours. Just remember that the system doesn’t work for all books, just non-fiction. It works great for how to books!
Enjoy, learn & get earning.
& the LearningCreators team
So far we’ve talked about two types of books – fact and time based. Our system works for one but not for the other. Well, actually yes it will work for both — but it’s not the best technique for the other and I only want you to use the best system!
Now, when I first thought about creating a system I believed there were only those two types.
I was wrong!
Yup, I admit it. There are two types that I don’t usually write.
Today I’m going to discuss sequence based books and tomorrow I’ll talk about collections.
So what is a sequence based book? Well, first of all, it probably doesn’t really exist in it’s pure state. It is a presentation, however, which appears frequently in technical writing.
So what is it already?
It’s a process based presentation; in other words, a how to book dealing with details. Which is why it seldom exists in pure form. Why? Because even technical manuals need to deal with summaries and explanations. It’s a book which is organized to presentt:
- Step One – do this
- Step Two – do this other thing
- Step Three – when you finish do another bit
- Step Four – if you haven’t finished go back and repeat step one.
- and so on and so on and so on.
Quite frankly, words are seldom the best way to present process or sequential based information. Flow diagrams are a much better way of describing that information and should be included whenever you are describing a sequence.
So obviously the Content Mapping system isn ‘t the best way to design this type of book right? Wrong!
Remember my comment on sequential books not existing in pure form? Typically you find a sequential sausage being buried (literally) in a fact based corn roll. Can you tell I haven’t had supper yet? Ah, corn dogs … oops back to books.
The trick is that the majority of the book’s organization is argument or fact based with sections being sequential based. Therefore the Content Map system is the best way to design the whole book. Where sequential elements appear they can be documented either on a seperate sheet or in a spare blank part of the map sheet. The sequence diagram can then be referenced within the content map.
This is the same technique I used when writing How To Write Your Own How To Book in 24 Hours or Less. I sketched the process in one corner of the map and then used a topic tag (actually a group of them) which referenced the sketch.
So is the Content Map the best method for sequential books? Yes, because most sequential books are actually fact based books with sequential pieces.
However, the sequential pieces are best described using a flow diagram. And that applies to both designing and in presenting within the book.
After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Have you wondered why we constantly repeat variations on the phrase
Writing How To Books
when we refer to our system?
There really is a reason.
When I originally looked at the different types of books, I categorized them into two types – fact & time. As you can tell from the first post in this series there are more. But fact & time are the two major breakdowns.
Most non-fiction books are fact based.
Fiction, on the other hand, is time based.
If you tell a story, which is what fiction purports to do, then you are describing something that takes place over and through time. This happened then, this happened now and this will happen.
Much of which is causally interrelated. (Hey, I like that phrase … one thing leads to another is SO overused don’t you think?)
Most non-fiction but not all. Histories and biographies (including auto-) are time based. They take place over time and while you may need to link the parts or explain the pieces or even make an argument, the defining characteristic is time.
Because fiction, histories and biographies are not a collection of facts but rather time based they require the use of a different tool.
Yes, the same issues exist. Information comes out of your brain in a disorganized fashion. It needs to be organized. The best way is with a structured brainstorming tool. So far cool. Exactly the same as fact based.
The difference is that the tool needed is a form of timeline (rather than Semantic Network Diagram). Why? Because you need to organize around the timeline and it’s interrelationships. Think of it as a Timeline Network Diagram with a few added bits. Why added bits? Because you still need to organize the facts you’ll state, and the arguments you’ll make.
That’s why we try to be so clear around our system. While the process itself is the same, the tool used is not. The tool we used is based around fact organization not time and facts.
So the question often asked is “Can you use the Content Map to design a fiction book and a biography?”. Surprisingly enough the answer is YES … Are you confused yet????
You see, the content map only works for part of the job (remember the added bits?). It isn’t the best tool for the job. A timeline based tool is.
That’s why we constantly say for Writing How To Books.
It’s not that the system doesn’t work for others … it’s just not the best system available. So why use it? Wouldn’t you rather use the best system for what you are doing? We would rather you did!