Turning 400,000 words of notes into a non-fiction book.

[quote=“Dr Dog”

Scapple is the companion software to Scrivener - basically a digital whiteboard - very simple, very flexible. I use that or an A3 sheet of paper and pencil depending on whether I’m in an analogue or digital mood.

Tinderbox is much more complex and much more expensive and has a pretty steep learning curve. Some here love it, some have taken against it, but it is a way of organising notes which combines outlining with graphical interfaces and a very sophisticated system of linking and use of metadata (which helps enormously in my work with keeping track of conceptual, historical, institutional etc relationships). It can read Scrivener files, and can export its own documents as a Scrivener (readable) file.

Yes: Scrivener 3 - love it: peerless.[/quote]
Great. I will definitely try out Scapple and probably hold off on Tinderbox, even though it sounds great. I am still not utilizing Scrivener to it’s full capacity so adding on an even more complex program would probably not help. And I will upgrade my Scrivener 2 to 3. Thank you for all of your thoughts.

Thank you Jim. I will be working through what you wrote down and use it to guide my brainstorming in the coming days.
I guess one of the challenges included as well, which ties in what several other people said, is I do not plan to do another book after this one, nor any blog posts, articles, etc. I know that can always change, but it seems pretty certain, given my personal goals for the short and long-term future. So, I can’t honestly tell myself, what I cut now will make it into another book or piece of work.
But having said that, your advice, and that of everyone else here, does show me a clear path forward to deal with my circumstance!!

I’m really surprised that nobody seems to have suggested that you seek out some editorial help. [Full disclosure: I am a freelance editor, so I may be biased as to the benefits. :wink: ] Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes can do a world of good when you hit a point with a project that you’re overwhelmed and the logic of the next steps feels elusive. You can easily find help through the Editorial Freelancers Association (the-efa.org).

Both aside from and in addition to getting someone else to take a look at it with you, I’d recommend the same step-back-and-do-some-envisioning approach that others have brought up, including seriously considering whether you don’t have more than one book’s worth of material. Think about what you want the book to be, and write up a quick paragraph about its overall arc. (Yes, even nonfiction books need an arc!) Sketch out a TOC, with a quick paragraph about your vision for each chapter and how it serves that arc. Next, I’d create a new project in Scrivener and populate it with what you just wrote. Set your chapters accordingly, and then search through the original project for bits of text to add to each one, and watch it start to take shape!

Good luck! I hope it comes together for you. That’s a LOT of work you’ve already put in; it’ll be great to get it into shape to share with the world!

I’m a freelance developmental editor too - which is partly why I didn’t mention it. But I actually think that RT would do well first to follow the excellent advice given by experienced Scrivener users and then maybe think about formal editorial help at a later stage.

I’m not necessarily in the “start from scratch” camp as I’ve not seen the quality and structure of your work so far. You might be just a language polish and slight re-order away from perfection for all I know. Certainly, once you’ve decided on the narrative thread for your book, I’d be amazed if you couldn’t pre-populate significant chunks of that with sections of your pre-written material.

I’d still follow the advice of everyone here and take a pause to think about what you want to say and the best structure for getting that across.

This link has some of my previous thoughts on how to go about that structuring exercise which may work for you (or not!):
pigfender.com/index.php/2013 … n-fiction/

Hello everyone, Thanks again for all of the feedback. I have been answering the basic questions about what my goal for writing the book is, and who it is for, as well as, working with a TOC from scratch. I also started using Scapple and find it to be very, very useful for me. So, thank you again for all the suggestions. I am back to enjoying this process and seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. :smiley:

So how’s the light at the end of the tunnel? What do you see now, as you’re coming closer?
Will there be blog posts based on the cutout pieces?
Will the book be fully from scratch?
Did you hire someone to take the whole task off your hands?