Getting Started with Your Book Writing Vision

By: Mary Anna Rodabaugh in Book Writing
on July 1st, 2021
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You’ve probably heard of the term “vision board.” Some people create these by cutting out images and words from publications and pasting them onto a piece of paper or posterboard. The end result is a visual manifestation of the creator’s goals. Others may do this virtually in an online journal or Pinterest board.

But vision boards aren’t just for people chasing life goals. They can also be an incredibly helpful tool for the book writing process. At Round Table Companies, we guide clients through the full manuscript book development journey. Part of this journey is helping clients create a book vision. It may not live on a physical board, but it sure is a great starting point when writing a book.

Curious? Let’s take a sneak peek of the book writing vision and explore a few exercises to help you get started.

Book Writing Vision Steps:

Begin with Key Questions

The first thing you should do is ask yourself, what is the premise of my book? There is probably going to be a singular theme that runs from start to finish, coupled with secondary and tertiary themes as well. Make a list of commonalities within these themes. Just indulge in a brain dump and list all the possible themes your story has.

Next, who are the key players in this book? If you’re writing a memoir, you are most likely the star of the show, but who are the other “characters” we need to meet? If you’re writing a thought leadership manuscript, is it going to come from your perspective or are you going to lean on other thought leaders to articulate your main points? Just like your themes, make a list of “characters” for your book so you can see what (or who, rather) you are working with.

The third element of this part of your vision is to ask yourself, who is my target audience? This is really critical to nail down before you start writing. A book tailored to Gen Z digital nomads is going to be structured a lot differently than a book for parents who have suffered the loss of a child. The language, the storytelling, the tone, even the word choice will vary based on your audience.

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Illustrate Your Why

Ask yourself why you need to write this book. Why does this story need to be told? Why are you the one to tell it? This is the part where you can get a little crafty if you want to. Open up a Pinterest board or grab some magazines, scissors, and glue. Put together a vision board that illustrates your why. When you get stuck during the book writing process, you’re going to want something tangible to refer back to for motivation and inspiration. Your why will help you keep going.

Give yourself permission to have any reason at all to write a book. There is no wrong answer! Just listen to your gut and write it down. If the thought of creating a vision board seems a bit unnatural for your working style, write down your why on a note card and stick it near your computer.

Tap into Target Audience Emotions

Just as the target audience will dictate the language, tone, pacing, and stylistic elements of your book, they will also inspire you to evoke specific emotions. Take a few moments to consider your target audience. Visualize them reading the final page of your book. As they close it and hold it in their hands for a moment, what are they feeling? How do you want your target audience to feel?

On your themes and characters brain dump sheet, write down a few key emotions you want your target audience to feel as they read your book. Circle the ones that resonate with you. How do you feel about your own story?

Know that readers are going to interpret aspects of your book based on their own experiences. What may deliver a gut punch of feelings to one reader could make another reader laugh or simply ignore. So while you aren’t trying to make your target audience feel a certain way, you sure can be mindful of how you hope to make them feel. This will come in handy when you start crafting specific scenes throughout your book.

“Vision boards aren’t just for people chasing life goals. They can also be an incredibly helpful tool for the book writing process.”

Explore Sample Narratives

Take a story from your book, it could be the opening paragraph or a detailed segment of a pivotal event somewhere in the middle. With that scene in mind, write a paragraph. Read it over. Now, write the same paragraph but in a different style. Perhaps use more dialogue or sensory details about what is occurring. Tap into smell, taste, sight, sound, and touch. Maybe write the paragraph in short punchy sentences. Or you can write the paragraph in long flowery language.

Repeat three times. You should have three paragraphs, all detailing the same story or event, but written in a different narrative style. Now you have some sample styles to play with. Which feels most authentic to your story?

Play with Organization

The final piece of this vision puzzle is to play around with the organization of your book. You will most likely create a detailed outline later on, which will break down your chapters, main themes, main characters, and more. But for now, in this exploratory stage, take a few moments to write down the big pieces of your story. Move them around. What goes where?

If you’re a visual person, consider writing down the big events on index cards. Now you can physically move them in different orders to see what makes sense. Know that chronological is always natural and sometimes the safest manner to tell a story, but that doesn’t mean it is the only manner. There are plenty of captivating books out there that tell a story from multiple points of view, flash back and forward, or treat each chapter like a standalone essay. There are so many fun choices to explore and the vision is a great and safe space to do so.

Putting Your Book Writing Vision All Together

Take all of this work you’ve done and look over it. Keep it tucked safely in a digital or physical folder. One of the hardest parts of writing a book is knowing where to start. If you’ve played around with any of these vision components, you are already past the hard part, because now, you have a few good ideas.