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How I Learned To Write for a General Audience

It is time -- after many fits, starts, and interruptions -- to bring this thread to a close, the thread that started with my saying I wanted to explain why I was in a better position to write trade books (for a general audience) than most of my peers who were with me in my New Testament PhD program and others in the guild of New Testament studies. I won’t re-discuss all the background I gave over a long series of posts, but I do need to summarize the one most important point.  Almost everyone I knew in my PhD program, and most biblical scholars I know today, think (with good reason in many cases) that what they are doing in their work of interpreting the New Testament or explaining its religious significance should be interesting to lots of people.  And in fact it usually is interesting to the (small) groups of people that they typically associate with (for example in church contexts).  I never had that problem. For my PhD I was working on [...]

How Do You Know What To Write About?

I continue here my thread on how I go about writing a trade book for general audiences.  So far I have talked about how I start with reading about the topics of relevance.  When I’ve done a lot of that I eventually get to the point where I realize I’ve read all the major works that I need to have read in order to have a good sense both of what others have said about a topic and about what I have to say myself. Maybe I should pause a bit – for a post or two -- on this question of “what I have to say.”   There are several aspects of this question that are important and fairly interesting.   The first has to do with having an idea about what to write.   I’ll get to the issue in a roundabout way, which is my wont, as you may have noticed… I’ve had graduate students now for twenty-six years, and over the years they have evidenced a wide range of both ability and temperament.  Of [...]

2020-04-03T16:35:40-04:00September 6th, 2014|Bart’s Biography, Book Discussions|

Writing a Trade Book

QUESTION: I am interested in your writing process, and want to know how much planning you do before you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard? Have you planned the whole book? How detailed are the plans for each chapter or do you just work with a thesis for each chapter? I am speaking of the process you go through for a trade book. I assume the process for the scholarly book is a bit different, but if so, how so? RESPONSE: I get asked this question every now and then, and think that maybe I’ll devote a few posts to trying to answer it.  I will focus my response to the question specifically of how I go about writing trade books.  Writing scholarly monographs is a different kettle of fish, and more people are interested, I think, in the books for general audiences, since these are the ones that get read the most.  So how do I go about writing a trade book? As a preliminary I should say that I am on [...]

2020-04-03T16:35:55-04:00September 3rd, 2014|Book Discussions, Reader’s Questions|
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