You’ve probably heard motivational speakers tell you to keep your eye on the prize, or keep the end in sight, or set your goal and focus on it, blah, blah, blah. They all make the same point. No matter how they say it, what they’re really telling you is to start with the end if you want to succeed.
I’ve mentioned before that a mystery writer friend of mine always writes the last chapter of her book first so she can refer to it and stay focused on getting to that end result.
Nonfiction writers, too, can start at the end by beginning with the table of contents. Granted, the table of contents is an outline of the book, but it’s so much more. It’s also the road map that takes the author to the end destination of covering the book’s purpose.
Once you’ve got the table of contents, I encourage you to list the key points and supporting elements for each chapter.
After you’ve got the “bones” of your book done, go back and write the first sentence of each section within each chapter. Don’t get bogged down writing the entire section. Just write the first sentence in a section (or subsection), and move on to the next section, etc.
Before you know it, you’ll have the essence of your book captured so all that remains is filling in the details, examples, stories, or whatever you need to make sure you’re getting your point(s) across to your reader.
You can do this with fiction writing as well. Instead of titling your chapters the way nonfiction authors do, just use chapter one, chapter two, etc. Then jot a note of what happens in that chapter to move the story closer to the desired ending. Once you know what happens in each chapter, write the opening sentence to each chapter.
When you go back and actually write the book, you’ll know what happens in the next chapter and you can use that to help you write a chapter end that will make your reader want to turn the page and keep reading. One caution: Your characters may nag you to keep writing so they can get on with their parts in the story. (The first time my characters took over my story was surreal, and if you write fiction, you know that can happen.)
If you’re struggling with writing your book, consider starting with the end.