You Can’t Include Everything

One of the mistakes new writers make is thinking they have to include all their research and everything they know in their books.

Perhaps they think they need to show their expertise, but they’re really showing their ignorance. Why? Because all subjects are inexhaustible if you spend a little time thinking of the different angles you can use. Trying to cover them all in one piece of work  leads to rambling.

You’re much better off to focus on one specific aspect or idea about your topic so you can keep your content manageable.

I happen to like history, and I like the Civil War era. I just finished reading a book called The Last Lincolns.  Can you imagine a topic that’s been covered more than Abraham Lincoln (well, besides baseball that is)? Yet, someone found another angle on the subject of Lincoln and wrote a book.

If you research your topic thoroughly, you’ll find several angles to write from. Choose which angle interests you the most and go for it.

Save the rest of your research for your second book or for those articles you’re going to write to get your name out there as an expert on your topic.

When I teach my “writing for periodicals” class, I tell my students they should get three different viewpoints out of every topic they research. For example, I interviewed a woman who owned an antiquarian bookstore once and sold her four times–once was about her bookstore as a destination, once was about what she looks for in buying antiquarian books, once was about a Victorian event she was holding at her store, and once was a profile about her! And all those sales to well-paying magazines came from one one-hour interview (of course, I asked open-ended questions to get that much good stuff).

So, go ahead and do your complete research. Then realize you can’t include everything in one book or one article. Create your various slants and get going!

Happy writing!


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