Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I want to write a book--but how?

You're rocking back and forth in your desk chair, thinking, "I should do it. I should just do it." You swivel to face your computer screen and let your fingers hover over the keyboard for about ten seconds, then you roll back the chair, stand up, and go to the kitchen to stare inside the refrigerator because it's a lot easier than trying to figure out how to write a book.

Writing a book is less daunting once you figure out the basics can actually be quite simple. Continue reading for 5 easy steps.



5 Easy Steps

*Note: This set of instructions is for a straightforward nonfiction book. 

STEP ONE: Answer some getting-started questions just to define your focus and make the writing a lot easier:

1. What do you want to write about?__Cat care____________

2. Why do you want to write about it?_Because cats should be well cared for.__

3. Who are you writing it for? (That is, who is your intended audience? Single fathers? Teenagers? Adults between the ages of 35 and 50? Senior citizens? Military personnel? Etc.)_Anyone who has a cat___

STEP TWO: Create a working title ("working title" just means it's something that may or may not change during the course of your writing or upon publication, but it's one that, to you, identifies the work and makes it real). If you don't have a title idea, don't worry--it's not essential. However, many people find it easier to stay focused on the book if the book feels real, and a book feels much more real when there's a title.

Title:___You and Your Cat_______________________________

STEP THREE: Create a chapter outline with at least ten chapters, and make sure each chapter is relevant to your focus. (Know that your chapter order may shuffle around at any time - for now, just focus on getting down your ideas.)

CHAPTER 1: No, a Cat Is Not Just a Boring Dog

CHAPTER 2: Cats: They Live a Long Time, So be Prepared for the Commitment

CHAPTER 3: What to Buy for Your Kitten's First Day

CHAPTER 4: Declawing: Cruel and Unusual? Alternative Furniture Care

CHAPTER 5: Spaying or Neutering Your Cat: Why and When You Should

CHAPTER 6: Cat Language: What They Mean When They Do That Thing


CHAPTER 7: Is My Cat Sick?

CHAPTER 8: Poisons: What Your Cat Should Not Eat or Get Into

CHAPTER 9: Integrating a New Cat into a Cat Household

CHAPTER 10: Cats in History: Myths and Legends

STEP FOUR: Expand your outline with some chapter details.

CHAPTER 1: No, a Cat Is Not Just a Boring Dog Why cats are a good pet choice, how cats are different from dogs, why cats aren't boring, examples of personality traits

CHAPTER 2: Cats: They Live a Long Time, So be Prepared for the Commitment Cats vs. plants vs. children re: commitment. Personal responsibility, likely expenses, possible expenses, big decisions, problems when moving, know what you're getting into before taking home that cute, fluffy, big-eyed kitten, "the trouble with a kitten is that / eventually it becomes a cat" [Ogden Nash]

CHAPTER 3: What to Buy for Your Kitten's First Day Necessities (litter, scratching toy, food, litter boxes, food dish), toys (buy or make? a cat's favorite toys), squirt bottle (explanation in chapter 4), tape roller to remove cat hair from clothes and furniture, training to use litter box (easy) & find food (easy)

CHAPTER 4: Declawing: Cruel and Unusual? Alternative Furniture Care What declawing is, pros and cons of declawing - cite veterinarians, cats can be trained, how to train (firm "no!" and squirt water-bottle - NOT to the face), what to use as scratching alternatives (cat tree, cardboard square for floor, scratching post that hangs from door, etc.)

CHAPTER 5: Spaying or Neutering Your Cat: Why and When You Should Why to spay/neuter, what age to do it, why, what it is, who should do it, how to care for cat/what to look for immediately afterward, consequences of not spaying/neutering.


CHAPTER 6: Cat Language: What They Mean When They Do That Thing Cat behaviors: yowling, kneading, purring, fur puff, back arch, hissing, tail up, tail down, tail flipping, etc.


CHAPTER 7: Is My Cat Sick? How to tell when cat is sick, different signs & symptoms, choosing a vet, second opinions, when your cat is dying (& how best to determine when or whether to euthenize), etc.


CHAPTER 8: Poisons: What Your Cat Should Not Eat or Get Into Descriptions of various expected and unexpected poisons, what they look like, what about it is poisonous, in what way, what to do if cat ingests it


CHAPTER 9: Integrating a New Cat into a Cat Household Day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (separation from other cat & what to leave in the room, how to let them meet, how long to them them mingle, what to do if they fight, etc.)

CHAPTER 10: Cat History, Myths, & Legends First domesticated cats, cats in Egypt, revered cats / myths surrounding cats (evil, suck your breath, are mean, are scary, are bad luck, etc.) / Legends about cats (folklore and urban legends)

STEP FIVE: In any order that suits you, start writing your chapters and set a goal of about 3,000-4,000 words per chapter. Don't worry about grammar, proper word choice, perfect sentence construction, or anything else you can worry about later. For now, just get the words down. 

Finessing comes later.

Have a question?

 - Lyla P., Cat Owner

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