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How to Write a Nonfiction Book Readers Can’t Put Down (Easy!)

Are you ready to write a nonfiction book that inspires, motivates, and activates your readers? One that they can’t seem to put down?

You’re in the right place.

As an author and coach who has helped dozens of writers craft impactful nonfiction books, I’ve developed a simple framework that makes the writing process easier and helps to make sure you create a captivating reading experience for your favorite people (your readers!).

It’s called the Purpose Points, and because it’s naturally aligned to the powerful Heroine’s Journey narrative structure, when you apply it to your book writing process, it’s practically impossible to fail.

In this post, I’ll walk you through how to use these two powerful tools to write a nonfiction book that will outshine your competitors and leave a lasting impression on your readers.

Why Purpose Points + the Heroine’s Journey?

Writing a nonfiction book that truly engages readers is no easy feat. You need to strike the perfect balance between providing valuable information and crafting a compelling narrative. Because nonfiction, like fiction, must entertain your reader.

If you bore ’em, you lose ’em.

That’s where Purpose Points combined with the Heroine’s Journey come in.

Purpose Points give you a roadmap for structuring your book in a way that hooks readers from the very first page and keeps them turning those pages until the end. Think of them like landmarks, or waypoints, along the book journey.

And when you overlay the Heroine’s Journey narrative arc, you create a transformative reading experience that your readers can deeply relate to and feel inspired by.

It naturally builds know-like-and-trust, and it naturally creates an entertaining reading structure. Ta da!

Together, these two frameworks give you a powerful one-two punch for writing a nonfiction book that stands out from the crowd, which you obviously want to do. Otherwise, why write the book?

Let’s dive into how to use them.

The 9 Purpose Points for Writing a Nonfiction Book

Purpose Points are a series of 9 key moments (“waypoints” or “landmarks”) that you’ll weave throughout your nonfiction book to guide both your writing journey and the reader’s reading journey.

They create a reading experience that’s hard for readers to put down when they’re done right because they push the reader down the road, re-engaging them again and again at pivotal moments in the book.

Here’s a quick overview of the 9 Purpose Points:

  1. The Hook: This is where you introduce your reader’s problem and show them how your book is the solution. It’s basically your subtitle, or your Promise.
  2. The Inciting Incident: This is the moment that kicks off the reader’s transformation journey. It “starts the fire.” It’s the invitation to change that you, as the author, ignored the first time before you learned your lesson, so to speak.
  3. The 1st Turning Point: This is where the reader fully commits to change, even if it’s scary. And it’s where you show your reader how you committed to changing when you were where they are.
  4. The 1st Pinch Point: This is where you faced your first major obstacle or challenge during your own transformation. Pinch points, when done well, create a LOT of know-like-and-trust because they make you relatable.
  5. The Transformation: This is the big “aha” moment where the reader has a revelation about themselves by seeing how you had your own “aha” moment before.
  6. The 2nd Pinch Point: This is where you faced another major obstacle, testing your commitment to change and helping your reader relate to you even more. The world isn’t a vacuum and it hits back when you least expect it.
  7. The 2nd Turning Point: This is where the reader gains the final piece of wisdom they need to achieve their goal. They get this wisdom by seeing how you got the final piece you needed when you were transforming yourself.
  8. The Triumph: This is the moment of greatest growth and empowerment for the reader. This is what we’ve all been waiting for—you included!
  9. The Resolution: This is the powerful dénouement that leaves your reader feeling inspired and ready to take action. They see what life looks like after you achieved your goal and they want this life, too.

Remember, when they first start this journey, all they want is the destination. You’ve got to show them the journey is just as exciting.

By structuring your nonfiction book around these 9 Purpose Points, you’ll create a reading experience that is both informative and transformative for your reader because the stepped journey allows them to acclimate as they grow. It’s a little bit of psychology. 😉

But to truly make your book unputdownable, you’ll want to make sure you overlay the Heroine’s Journey.

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What is the Heroine’s Journey?

The Heroine’s Journey is a narrative structure that mirrors the classic Hero’s Journey, but with a twist that suits our overworked, overwhelmed modern lives more than a Hero’s Journey does.

Rather than the sad, bitter hero embarking on a quest all alone, suffering trials all alone, and then probably dying (all alone) even while he saves the world, the Heroine’s Journey is more rational.

It follows a person (non-gendered!) who is forced to adapt to a problem in their life because they had no other choice at the time, or didn’t know what else to do. We all have times that we just have to survive and that happens more often than you’d think. It happens with family, work, school, passion projects, neighbors, health, spirituality, and anything else you can think of. We all go through moments where we were forced to adapt.

It’s getting through these moments where the Heroine’s Journey comes in.

And your reader is always in a Forced Adaption moment when they pick up a book to learn something new.

So that’s where we start.

The 9 Stages of the Heroine’s Journey

  1. Forced Adaption: We’re introduced to the Heroine and the problem she’s facing, even if she doesn’t recognize it yet.
  2. Too Much: The Heroine gets an invitation to try something new, but she’s hesitant because change is hard and she’s just dealing with too much.
  3. Shattered Glass: The Heroine reaches a breaking point and decides (or is forced) to step into a new journey of change.
  4. Cut Fingers: The Heroine faces her first major obstacle and has to figure out how to overcome it.
  5. Who Am I?: The Heroine has a big revelation about herself and her situation, which forces her to re-evaluate everything.
  6. The Underworld: The Heroine faces another major challenge, which tests her commitment to change.
  7. I Understand: The Heroine gains the final piece of wisdom she needs to achieve her goal.
  8. Balanced Adaption: The Heroine successfully integrates her newfound wisdom and emerges as a powerful, balanced leader.
  9. The Heroine: The Heroine has completed her transformation and is now ready to create change in the world.

This is just a brief overview of the Heroine’s Journey and if you want to read more, check out my full post on the Heroine’s Journey.

By overlaying the 9 stages of the Heroine’s Journey narrative into your nonfiction book, you’ll create a reading experience that your readers will connect with on a deep level.

Check Out: Heroine’s Journey? It’ll Help You Write a Book that Readers Love or How to Finally Write a Nonfiction Book (NY Times)


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How to Put it All Together to Write a Nonfiction Book

Now that you understand the Purpose Points and the Heroine’s Journey, let’s look at how you can put them together to write a nonfiction book readers talk about for years to come. We want page-turners, here!

1. The Hook

Heroine’s Journey Stage: Forced Adaption

Start by introducing your reader’s problem and showing them how your book is the solution. This is your chance to really grab their attention and make them eager to keep reading.

For example, if you’re writing a book on how to start an online business, your Hook might be: “Are you tired of the 9-to-5 grind and dreaming of starting your own online business, but don’t know where to start? In this book, you’ll discover a simple, step-by-step process for launching a profitable online business in just 90 days.”

Next, set the stage for your reader’s transformation journey by introducing them to their current “ordinary world” – the problem they’re facing and the challenges they’re up against.

For instance, you might share a personal story about your own struggles with starting an online business, or a client case study that illustrates the common pain points your readers are experiencing.

2. The Inciting Incident

Heroine’s Journey Stage: Too Much

Now it’s time to kick off the transformation. This is where you’ll present your reader with an invitation to try something new — whether it’s a new approach, a new mindset, or a new strategy.

Here you could share a story about the moment you decided to finally take the plunge and start your own online business, or how a client had a breakthrough after trying a strange or unexpected strategy you shared with them.

3. The 1st Turning Point

Heroine’s Journey Stage: Shattered Glass

At this stage, your reader has accepted the invitation to change, but they’re still hesitant and unsure because they don’t really know what they’re doing you. This is where you need to show yourself taking the first big step forward, even if was scary, so they can see how you did it.

You might share a story about overcoming your own fears and doubts, or a client who pushed past their comfort zone to achieve a major milestone.

4. The 1st Pinch Point

Heroine’s Journey Stage: Cut Fingers

Now it’s time for your reader to face their first major obstacle. This is where you’ll need to show yourself (or your past client) struggling and maybe even wanting to give up, but ultimately finding a way to overcome whatever the challenge was.

Perhaps you’ll share a time when you hit a roadblock in your online business journey, or a client who had to pivot their strategy when things didn’t go as planned.

Pinch points are often external obstacles. Things like pandemics, economic downturns, health issues, or family troubles (rather than internal obstacles like a fear of public speaking).

One of the things I love about teaching clients how to write a nonfiction book is that they get so excited when they realize that these Purpose Points are so similar to fiction plot points! It’s usually here at the first pinch point that it all clicks for them.

5. The Transformation

Heroine’s Journey Stage: Who Am I?

At the midpoint of your reader’s journey, they’ll face a major revelation or “aha” moment as you share your own major revelation. This is the “Who Am I?” stage of the Heroine’s Journey, where they’re forced to confront the truth about themselves and their situation.

Perhaps this is the point where you or a client realized that the original goal you were working towards wasn’t actually what you needed. Or maybe it’s where you had a reversal of fortune that completely flipped your perspective.

Sharing this kind of vulnerable, transformative moment will create a deep connection with your reader and prepare them for the next stage of their journey.

This is really the whole moment you’ve been working towards when you decided to write a nonfiction book—your end-point is exciting, yes, but it’s here, at this Transformation, that we really connect with our readers.

I hope you can see how overlaying this structure also makes writing the book so freaking easy!

6. The 2nd Pinch Point

Heroine’s Journey Stage: The Underworld

Just when your reader thinks they’re on the right track, they’ll face another major obstacle or challenge. This is the “Underworld” stage of the Heroine’s Journey, where the stakes are raised and they’re tested on their commitment to change.

You might share a time when you or a client hit a roadblock that threatened to derail your progress, but you found a way to push through. This is where your reader will really start to see the true difficulty of the journey, but also your unwavering determination.

7. The 2nd Turning Point

Heroine’s Journey Stage: I Understand

After overcoming the 2nd Pinch Point, your reader will reach a pivotal moment of clarity. This is the “I Understand” stage of the Heroine’s Journey, where they gain the final piece of wisdom they need to achieve their goal.

Perhaps this is the point where you or a client finally cracked the code on a key strategy, or had a breakthrough insight that changed everything. Sharing this “aha” moment will get your reader excited and energized for the final stages of their journey.

8. The Triumph

Heroine’s Journey Stage: Balanced Adaption

This is the climactic “Balanced Adaption” stage of the Heroine’s Journey, where your reader sees the full results of their transformation. They’ve integrated the wisdom they’ve gained and are now empowered to achieve their goals.

You might share a story about hitting a major milestone in your online business, or a client who completely transformed their life and career. This is where you’ll really want to paint a vivid picture of the incredible outcomes that are possible.

9. The Resolution

Heroine’s Journey Stage: The Heroine

Finally, you’ll bring your reader’s journey to a close with a powerful conclusion that leaves them feeling inspired and ready to take action. This is the “The Heroine” stage of the Heroine’s Journey.

The end of their journey is the beginning of their next one, and they now have everything they need to take on whatever new challenges life throws their way. This is your chance to reinforce the key lessons they’ve learned, and to invite them to continue their transformation journey with you.

This is “life after” and it’s the destination we all want after we apply the lessons learned from your book.

Write a Nonfiction Book Readers Talk About for Years

By weaving these Purpose Points and Heroine’s Journey stages together throughout your nonfiction book, you’ll create a truly captivating and transformative reading experience that will leave a lasting impression on your readers.

Remember, the key is to make it personal and relatable. Share your own stories and experiences, as well as those of your clients, to really connect with your reader on an emotional level.

Ready to write a nonfiction book readers can’t put down? Grab a pen and paper and start mapping out your Purpose Points and Heroine’s Journey. And if you need a little help, I’m here for ya.

By using this framework, you’ll not only write a nonfiction book that’s engaging and informative, but one that inspires your readers to take action and achieve their own goals. And the best readers are the ones who put what you teach into practice… because they are the ones who will send your next reader to you!

Let’s change some lives,

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Holly

PS — 🩵 When it feels right, here are 3 ways I can help you turn the page:

  1. The Book Map. Imagine having a GPS for your book-writing journey, guiding you from “I think I have an idea!” all the way to “OMG, I did it! I wrote a book!” That’s what the Book Map can do for you. It’s a supercharged roadmap for your writing journey. It’s not just about outlining chapters; it’s about diving deep into what you want to say and the best way to say it, ensuring every word pulls its weight. You’re not just writing a book; you’re crafting a masterpiece that feels as if it almost writes itself. Ready to make your book dream a reality? Let’s Book Map it!
  2. One-to-One Book Coaching. I have a vision of changing the world one book at a time, by teaching world-changers to create a book in a gentler, more effective way. A way that takes both you and your reader on a profound journey. I see a future where we build trust in our words, worlds, and work with our books, and where the world becomes a better place because of the books we write. My commitment is to bring to life books—fiction and nonfiction—founded on integrity. I’ll bring the map, and you’ll take us on the journey. If you’re ready to change the world with your book, your quest awaits. Apply for a free discovery call here. It takes 3 minutes.
  3. Listen to the Podcast. The Book Coach Chronicles: A podcast for writers of books, people who want to be writers of books, and y’all in the back who’ve been thinking about it but don’t yet consider yourself a writer. Listen on AppleSpotify, or Everywhere Else.

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Holly Ostrout is a book coach with a vision of changing the world one book at a time, by teaching big-idea entrepreneurs, coaches, speakers, and authors to create a book in a gentler, more effective way. A way that takes both you and your reader on a profound journey.
Holly Ostrout

Hi I’m Holly. If you’re going to change the world with your book, fiction or nonfiction, I can help you do it.

I'm a book coach for high-achieving, creative coaches, consultants, service providers, speakers, and authors who want to build a sustainable business around their book—whether that’s fiction or nonfiction.

I help you share your wisdom, ideas, and gifts by writing & publishing a life-changing book that helps you streamline your business, bring in more money, and change more lives.

I believe books are the most important human invention. And yours can change the world.

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Joyful, Easy Writing Can Be Yours​

Find that magical zone when the words flow like honey + everything you want to say comes across in perfect harmony. Write your book joyfully + easily with this Writing Ritual Tracker & keep the flow with my helpful newsletter.

Mockup of The Writing Ritual Creator from Holly Ostrout

Joyful, Easy Writing Can Be Yours

Writing Ritual Tracker from Books & Alchemy

Find that magical zone when the words flow like honey + everything you want to say comes across in perfect harmony. Write your book joyfully + easily with this Writing Ritual Tracker & keep the flow with my helpful newsletter.

Mockup of The Writing Ritual Creator from Holly Ostrout
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If You Want to Change the World with Your Book, You've Got to Write It.

Find that magical zone when the words flow like honey + everything you want to say comes across in perfect harmony. Write your book joyfully + easily with this Writing Ritual Creator & keep the flow with my helpful newsletter.