A common problem in the manuscripts I look at is the author moving too fast through the opening section. Like screenplays for movies, business books should have three distinct acts.
Authors too often want to go running through the opening of the book. They assume the reader is with them based on the fact they opened the cover. Authors forget that no one will be there is explain why this book is important. The reader only has what is written on the page.
I like how Michael Arndt, the screenwriter behind Little Miss Sunshine and Toy Story 3, describes what the beginning of a film needs to do. He says writers should:
- Show the main character
- Show them in their environment
- Show them doing what they love
- Then show them their biggest flaw based on their love
If we translate Arndt’s ideas to business books, the author needs to throughly describe the world the reader lives in. What sort of problems are they working with? What is the reader afraid of? What do they want more than anything? And finally, what does the author believe is keeping the reader from their goal?
Readers are coming to your book already with the sense that they have a problem and are not sure how to solve it.
Make sure you are clear about the problem and they will trust you to lead them to a solution.