Politics are on the nation’s mind these days, and many people wish to weigh in by writing a political book.
But how do you go about structuring a political book? How much political theory and practice should you put in, and how many notable people, laws, and arguments should be included? Should you focus on individuals or movements, on concepts or political parties? In short, how do you make your book as well-organized and informative as it is interesting and persuasive?
There is no single best approach to writing a political book. Instead, there are numerous ways to craft a book about politics. The trick is to find the approach that presents your message in the most interesting and effective manner. Let’s look at 14 of these approaches.
1 – Lay Out the Principles One by One
When dealing with complex concepts, issues, or a series of events, it may be necessary to arrange them one after the other, explaining each item as you go. You might offer up quotes, statistics, excerpts from court decisions or other information to properly explain and illustrate each item. This approach can be useful, for example, when writing about the history of a political party, or comparing one political philosophy to another.
Example: Is Democracy Possible Here? Principles for a New Political Debate by Ronald Dworkin
2 – Focus on a Single Event
Some events or ideas are so rich in detail, and have had such a powerful impact on the nation, that they deserve an in-depth examination. Think, for example, of 9/11 or the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. You might present your deep dive into this single event from a neutral perspective, laying out the facts and quoting from people across the political spectrum to give your readers multiple ways of understanding and interpreting the event. You could also look at the event through your personal partisan lens.
Example: On That Day: The Definitive Timeline of 9/11 by William M. Arkin
3 – Look at the Burning Issues of the Day
Instead of writing about a single event, you might focus on some of the important issues which are currently roiling political waters and explain how they relate to each other. You might take a neutral point of view, explaining the history of the issues, why they became important, how they interact with each other, and so on. You might also look at these issues from your political point of view, explaining how each one fits into your personal philosophy, and why this particular approach will yield superior results for the whole nation.
Example: Commonsense Guide to Current Affairs by Vincent Frank Bedogne and Marcy Jean Everest
4 – Trace the Course of an Issue Over Time
Many of the issues we argue about today have been debated for decades, even centuries, without any sort of clear, definitive resolution. You might choose a contentious issue such as federal control vs. states’ rights, or socio-political topics like homelessness, abortion, or gun control. Then trace an issue’s history—or at least relevant portions of its history—to show how it has affected the nation. You may conclude by presenting your solution to the issue.
Example: When Abortion Was a Crime by Leslie Reagan
5 – Write a Biography of Someone Who Shares Your Views
Writing the life story of a prominent or intriguing person who shares your perspectives on political topics can add credence to your arguments, since you can imbue your views with the prestige of your chosen subject. Your biography will by definition cover the subject’s entire life, but you can spend extra time sharing her political views, explaining how she developed, understood, and expressed these positions.
Example: Reagan: The Life by H. W. Brands
6 – Write About How a Person Acted Upon Your Philosophy
Instead of covering a person’s entire life, you might write about how he demonstrated your philosophy at certain critical points in his life and political career. For example, a narrow focus on Franklin D. Roosevelt’s response to the economic crisis of the Great Depression of the 1930s, or Janet Yellen’s actions as Federal Reserve Chair, can both be useful vehicles for presenting a stance on government involvement in the economy.
Example: George Washington, Dealmaker-In-Chief by Cyrus Ansary
7 – Mock the Other Side
Humor can be a powerful approach to discussing politics. After all, we enjoy seeing people and political parties skewered by satire, wicked or gentle humor—and if the humor is not too wicked, it can usually be appreciated even by those being poked fun at. If you want to take a partisan tack, you might share jokes about the “other side,” offer a collection of silly statements made by members of the opposition, or write a satire that exaggerates the other side’s ideas and actions.
Example: Donald Trump Jokes by Josh Hugh and Emma Kidder
8 – Launch a Scorched-Earth Attack
A fair number of today’s political books take a scythe – or maybe a massive weed eater – to the other side, laying everything about them to waste. The scorched-earth approach presents opposing forces as being irremediably awful and evil as it dismisses and dismantles their beliefs while arguing with their understanding of the facts. This approach can make for a shocking, but riveting, read that will be strongly embraced by those who agree with you, and just as strongly dismissed by those who do not.
Example: Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History by Kurt Andersen
9 – Unleash an Exposé of Your Opponents
Political figures and their parties work hard to control information and image, which means that the public is often ignorant of their misdoings taking place behind the scenes. If you have inside information, or have managed to connect damaging dots on your own, you can expose wrongdoings and point out how miscreant politicians and parties are deceiving us with misinformation and sugared words—or perhaps show that they are covertly plotting to do something dastardly.
Example: Unaccountable: Truth and Life on Parliament Hill by Kevin Page
10 – Look into the Future, Whether Utopian or Dystopian
A creative way to present your political philosophy is to paint a picture of a world made wonderful because your ideas have been adopted. Describe this wonderful future, making it clear that all is well here specifically because your philosophy works so well.
Or you can focus on the horrors that will strike if your approach is not used, and instead, the “other side” wins out. You can warn us of the dangers of ignoring your political opinion by imagining an unbearable future where your philosophy has been sidelined or crushed, and the country or world is in a mess because of this.
11 – Use a Fable
Step into the realm of fiction by creating an entirely make-believe world to illustrate your philosophy. You might use animals on a farm, or creatures from outer space, to interact and argue your case. Writing a political fable gives you a lot of freedom to explore and illuminate your ideas, since you aren’t limited by the reality of what actual individuals – or even humans – would say and do.
Example: Animal Farm by George Orwell
12 – Write a Historical Survey
Although we tend to believe that modern politics and political stances are concrete and timeless, the ideas about how to govern a nation have evolved greatly over time. A historical survey allows you to present the evolution of political ideas over time, and then discuss their relationship with larger economic, social, demographic, agricultural and other forces.
Example: The Decline and Rise of Democracy by David Stasavage
13 – Create a Collection of Articles or Essays
Rather than presenting your political arguments in long form, you may prefer to write a series of short articles or essays examining various aspects of your political philosophy. Each item may be just a few pages long and can stand on its own. Each may be only lightly connected to the next, or one may build upon another. This “short and sweet” approach is preferred by many readers who prefer to imbibe information in bite-sized bits.
Example: AM I CRAZY?: An Unapologetic Patriot Takes on the Insanity of Today’s Woke World by Chad Prather
14 – Take Your Readers on a Journey Through the Other Side
Rather than you writing about what the other side is thinking and doing, take your readers along with you as you meet and interact with “the others.” Let your readers see and hear what the opposing side is doing and saying, raw and unfiltered. Relaying your experiences and conversations with members of the other side can illuminate their thought processes and help readers better understand what these opinions are, and where they’re coming from.
Example: Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War by Tony Horwitz
These 14 ways to write a political book are not the only approaches you can take to sharing your views with your audience. Rather, they’re to be thought of as ideas to prime you to begin organizing and structuring your own book. If you develop your own path while writing your book, so much the better!
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