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  • Writer's pictureJohn Lim

MF 228 : Mapping out your book

Updated: Jun 22, 2022

On this episode, I cover how to map out your first draft recordings and shape them into a three-act structure (beginning-middle-end). More at

Moving Forward is also available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Amazon Music.

Part 1: Cobra Kai season 2 shows no mercy!

If you follow me on social media, you’ll know I’m a huge, gushing fan of the series Cobra Kai. I even talked about one of their twitter events a month ago and I wrote a LinkedIn article about the show, which to date, is my most read piece.

Cobra Kai recently released its second season on YouTube Premium, a subscription-based service. It’s fantastic and a worthy follow-up to its first season. On the heels of the success of the second season, YouTube announced it was not only renewing it for a third but changing its business model. Until recently, YouTube Premium was attempting to compete with Netflix, Hulu, and Prime for a slice of the subscription, streaming market; a billion dollar industry. As I wrote in the LinkedIn article, Cobra Kai was a huge step forward but by itself, is not enough to sustain a long-term subscriber base. In order to compete, YouTube Premium would have to continue developing IP of the same or similar quality to make it sustainable.

Now, it appears that YouTube has decided to change its model slightly, moving premium content like Cobra Kai outside of the paywall and monetizing with ad revenue. The benefit is that everyone will get to enjoy these shows and YouTube will generate significant revenue from sponsors as the major TV networks have done for ages. In exchange, viewers will subsidize the cost by watching ads interspersed throughout the episodes.

This presents an interesting question and food for thought. Streaming is big business but the barriers to entry are extremely high. One show alone, even a great one, cannot carry a streaming network. As I wrote in 2018, YouTube had the potential to become a Netflix but it wouldn’t be easy. Now, it seems they’re embracing what they are: a freemium platform that generates revenue through ads.

With DisneyPlus on the horizon, we’re seeing that streaming is a viable but expensive industry. It’s a disruptive delivery system driven by IP and content. Netflix has been a juggernaut because it owns so much IP. If it only had one great show, it wouldn’t succeed. We’ve seen other streaming networks, smaller ones, like FilmWise, Sony’s Crackle and Pluto TV (which was recently acquired by Viacom) attempt to break into this market, some with more success than others. We’re now seeing how some of these players, such as YouTube Premium, pivot and differentiate themselves when trying to become another Netflix doesn’t quite pan out. It will be interesting to see how this plays out next year when Cobra Kai returns for its third season, as it shifts to a format that we’re as familiar with as the 1984 film it’s based on.

For now, I recommend trying out YouTube Premium for a free trial or shell out the one-month fee, which is about the price of a movie ticket, to binge the goodness that is Cobra Kai’s second season. You can also purchase Cobra Kai’s first season on iTunes or Amazon Prime streaming.

Part 2: Mapping out your book

[NOTE: the books mentioned in this episode are out of print. For more, check out episode 388.]

Over the past few weeks, we’ve talked about picking an idea, iterating it, and as we covered last week with Alissa Carpenter and the week before on talking out your first draft.

You should continue on with recording your first draft whenever you find the time. Remember, the point of this is to get your ideas out without editing. Don’t worry if you feel like you’re rambling or the ideas aren’t gelling yet.

Today, I want to cover some of the writing tools you can use to adapt your oral draft into a written one.

On Friday’s bonus episode, I shared two ways you can use your recordings: literal transcriptions or as the basis to form a book outline.

If you go with the later, I recommend labeling the individual files and storing them into a cloud folder such as Dropbox or Google Drive. Make sure to label each one with a succinct, clear title so you know immediately what it’s about.

Next, list all of the topics out on a whiteboard or a document. You can also do this on notecards. Organize them accordingly and group them into categories.

From there, start looking at your categories and start organizing these into a logical progression.

The basic arc of any book, fiction or non-fiction, should be beginning-middle-end. Start grouping your groups according to BME.

From there, you’ll start to get a big picture of how your book should be organized. This will be your roadmap for the next stage which is writing the second draft.

Next week, we’ll cover strategies for writing – the kind where you sit at a keyboard and type. Don’t be scared. We’re going to take this step-by-step and use a method that will make it more a marathon than a sprint.


Continue recording your first draft. This may continue on to the end of this series and beyond. If you have recorded most or all of your first draft, start grouping your recordings and collating them. From there, use the BME formation to create a broader collection out of those groupings.

[NOTE: the books mentioned in this episode and in the book writing series are out of print. I am leaving these episodes mostly as is and strictly for informational and instructional purposes only. I have retracted my story from the book discussed in this episode and its sequel with full reservation of my copyright. For more, check out episode 388.]

Part 3: What I’m reading / read

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (*****). I found this book completely by chance at the library. The title grabbed me and the insert description piqued my interest. The story is about an eccentric, socially inept Australian genetics professor who goes about trying to find a wife via a scientific method. He meets a Ph.D. student in a graduate program who doesn’t fit any of his criteria and is herself, trying to find out who her real father is. It’s a classic “boy meets girl” story but written in a very entertaining, sweet, charming fashion with a sharp, edgy sense of humor. Interestingly, Graeme Simsion is a former IT professional who wrote this first novel at age 50 and it became a smash hit. Highly recommend.


Scrivener (available for Mac, Win, IOS) is a book writing program that auto formats for self-publishing on Amazon’s KDP and other platforms. It’s a great tool with rich features that allow co-writers to collaborate through Dropbox. Scrivener has a bit of a learning curve but I’ve been a fan since 2017 and have talked to many authors who use it as their go-to. If you’re interested in Scrivener, you can use the coupon code MOVINGFORWARD to get 20% off your purchase (for Mac or Win). It’s a one-time license fee and available for Mac, Win, IOS.

Note: this section contains affiliate links and coupon codes for which the author may receive some compensation.

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