How to structure your book chapters

Create a rhythm in your chapter structure

It is nice for both a reader and for you as a writer if there is some kind of rhythm in a book. If the structure of your book and chapters has something recognizable, then the reader does not have to search for it again and again with each chapter and can focus completely on the content. Such a structure also immediately gives you a handy outline when writing your book.

In this blog, I will explain you how – like a conductor – you can bring an appropriate rhythm to your chapters.

How to structure your book chapters

Start building your chapter with storytelling

What you often see with management books is that each chapter starts with a piece of storytelling, for example, an experience of the author himself, or of someone else. This story is a good introduction to the theme of that chapter. It also ensures that a connection is made with the reader and that they are involved in the story in a natural way.

Dose your theory

Make sure your book doesn’t become a dry textbook, with only theory. Alternate bits of information and advice with examples and applications to help your reader absorb the important message. For example, you can always explain a piece of theory based on the story you just told. In combination with that practical example, your tips will stick much better.

Provide experiences/exercises

After the example and explanation, it often works well to give the reader the opportunity to work on the subject themselves. For example with a question, visualization, exercise, or assignment. This can be a nice ending to any chapter.

Choose your chapter elements

You can vary with different elements to build your chapter. For the sake of recognisability, I would advise you to keep repeating the same elements in the same order in every chapter.

Examples of recurring elements you could use:

  • Interviews (for example with a customer, an expert, or an expert by experience)
  • a box with tips, background information, or explanation from an expert;
  • a test that the reader can complete or take;
  • a link to your website or blog or other places where people can read more;
  • Frequently asked questions and answers; storytelling;
  • own experiences, experiences of clients or fictitious persons;
  • impeding factors, objections, or stumbling blocks;
  • a diagram, cartoon, photo, or other visual that explains your story;
  • meditations or affirmations;
  • A summary, enumeration, or conclusion;
  • quotes.

Which structure of your book suits you?

Choose the structure of your chapters in such a way that it fits your story and that it feels right for you. Once you’ve created an outline, it’s very easy to outline the chapters of your book and the elements of each chapter.

You can then slide the various elements, such as examples, stories, visuals, quotes, theories, and exercises until you have the right combination per chapter and the right flow between the chapters. Below is an example of a fictional book about entrepreneurship:

How to structure your book chapters

Structure first. Then write

Only when everything is in its place – and correct – do you start writing. Believe me, it’s really much easier to move ideas now than later with whole chunks of text, which might not turn out to be the right text yet.

This is one of the advantages of my ‘Reverse Writing’ method: we will first structure and set up everything in bullet points and only write real at the end. That is a much better experience for you as a writer now, and for your readers later.

Are you serious about writing your book?

Don’t reinvent the wheel, like I did. As the author and co-author of more than 30 books, writing coach for hundreds of people and organizer of 20 writing retreats, I have finally found the best system for writing a good book: the ‘Reverse Writing’ method. If you begin at the end and create a good structure before you start writing, you will be able to follow your energy, instead of the page numbers.

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