Organizing the Book, Round 2

My first cut at organizing the content did not go as well as I’d hoped. As I feared, some sections had too much content, others practically none. So I’m trying a different approach and am getting a better distribution of content. Progress!

New structure

In my last attempt to organize the content, I was just going through the different parts of the job cycle, from choosing a career to hunting for a job, doing the job, leaving a job, and hunting for the next job. This flow wasn’t working because, as my buddy discovered, there was practically no content in a couple of those buckets.

Instead, I decided to borrow a page from my own blog and sort out my content the way I take on a new job or customer: the four Ps…

  1. Process
  2. Product
  3. People
  4. Politics

All of these factors affect how the technical communicator does his or her work. However, given all the emphasis I put here on attitude and behavior, I added a fifth item:

5.  Professionalism

This section covers both behaviors that help make life in the workplace smoother; it also addresses the care and feeding of the self. Items 1-4 are the context within which you work and are beyond your control, for the most part. Section 5 covers the things you can do to make your life at and outside work happier and more productive.

New structure, revisited

This five-part layout satisfied me with regard to structure, but the lengths were still off. Politics didn’t have much, and since politics are mostly the result of how people interact, I combined the two to make a new flow:

  1. Process
  2. Product
  3. People & Politics
  4. Professionalism

Problem solved, right? Not so fast. Now that I had my buckets in order, I started writing introductions to explain what will be found in each section. However, as I wrote those little intros, the content wasn’t flowing properly. I didn’t like putting process first, for example, so I have settled on the following progression:

  1. Product (what you are writing about)
  2. People & Politics (who you are writing with and for)
  3. Process (how you will actually write)
  4. Professionalism (how you will handle yourself in the midst of all of the above)

This could change again. Beneath each of those sections, I have multiple chapters addressing subtopics. Those, too, will undergo reclassifying, reorganizing, and perhaps even removal. Still, progress is being made!

About Bart Leahy

Freelance Technical Writer, Science Cheerleader Event & Membership Director, and an all-around nice guy. Here to help.
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3 Responses to Organizing the Book, Round 2

  1. I can relate to each of the four sections. I think you’re on to something! Have you thought about tools? I know they change quickly, but technical writers are first judged by their skillset (when looking for a job).

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