Writing a Book, the Master Outline

When I announced the new book, I promised I wouldn’t torture MacSparky.com readers with the tedious (and often) boring details of writing a book. I have, however, received several e-mails asking me to share some of the workflows so I will make occasional post about what I’m up to.

Writing a tech book is fairly straightforward. There are no plot twists, things usually move linearly, and the butler never did it. So outlining such a book is not that difficult. I started in iThoughts HD with a single entry in the middle, “iPad at Work.” Then I started adding branches. Most of the rough work was done at Peet’s over tea.

When things started shaping up, I synced the file (as OPML) over Dropbox to my Mac and looked at it in OmniOutliner Then I sent it back to the iPad and iThoughts HD. With Mac at Work, this work was about 90% OmniOutliner and 10% mind map (MindNode Pro is my favorite mind mapping app on Mac OS X). With this new book, those numbers reversed. I attribute this to the iPad (which didn’t exist when I outlined Mac at Work), which makes mind mapping more intuitive (for me). Either way, the big outline is done and looks great. Here it is from MindNode Pro on the Mac.

Once I was happy with the outline, I saved the OPML file on Dropbox and imported it into Scrivener, which built the book file. I’ll write more about those steps in a future post. The word count is now 10,000 and I’m having fun.

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