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I am writing a non-fiction book, where [for instance] I am talking about the Teacher-Student relationship - and many aspects.

Sometimes the writing is addressing the Teacher and sometimes the Student (one of the reasons both perspectives are in the book is so each group can also understand the issues of the other/counterpart). Sometimes the writing is addressing both groups.

I am not sure of the best way to organize.

Let's say the chapter is on a specific topic, "The First One-on-One Meeting". Right now, I might write a general introduction to the topic, then have a section addressing the teacher, followed by a section addressing the student - then a section addressing both. I might do this a few times within each chapter.

I am not sure - but the reader might find it, well, choppy - or maybe not. There are lots of precedents - certainly in fiction - where you are focusing on one character, then another and back and forth.

Are there any known techniques, tips, guidelines, ideas for this kind of situation?

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  • An essential part of the process of writing non-fiction (possibly fiction too but that's another story (ha-ha)) is market research. That might be as simple as going to your favourite bookshop (online or on the high street) and looking at recent releases of similar books to the one you intend to write. High street bookshops offer the advantage that the books on their shelves are, to some extent, curated, while online it's more difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. Which leads to ... while doing the market research see how your competitors have answered your question and copy them. Commented Jan 27, 2023 at 9:55
  • @Laurel Your edit to the question means my answer now makes no sense, because I was answering the original question on general organisation and specifically pointing out that having two audiences could be a problem. I can't respond to the question as it now is. What's the best way to deal with that? Should I edit my answer to point this out? Delete it? Commented Feb 3, 2023 at 6:48

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In this kind of advice/guidance book, there's nothing inherently wrong with a 'choppy' approach. Students and teachers (to use your example) are busy people, and having bite-size sections that are digestible in between classes or on the daily commute is actually a plus.

The issue I see is that you've got two different audiences, and they might simply skip the sections that aren't addressed to them. Worse, they may not bother to buy/read your book in the first place, because flicking through while they're in the bookshop will tell them that a third of the book isn't aimed at them.

Having said that, I applaud your intention to show each party how it looks from the other side, and there are a couple of other options you could consider:

  • Addressing both parties all the way through with headings such as 'The teacher's perspective', 'The student's perspective'. Whether this will work depends on how different your two target audiences are in terms of the style they are likely to find appealing. In your example, depending on the age of the students, it might be difficult to find a style that both students and teachers would want to read. It could also distance the reader because it's more difficult to get at what matters to them if you're trying to cater for two audiences simultaneously.
  • Writing two companion volumes, where each volume covers both roles but from a single perspective, i.e. in the student volume you include sections on what things are like for the teacher, including why each point is important for the student to know. This would enable you to adapt your writing style and tailor the content to really help them understand the other party.
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  • Thanks ... the "Teacher Student" was just an example to elicit responses without people getting caught up in the subject matter. It's actually about mentors and "mentees" ... there are of course significant differences to the experience, and then areas of overlap, But yes, each side benefits from understanding the perspective of the other - particularly if they are doing it for the first time.
    – CJ Cornell
    Commented Feb 3, 2023 at 21:46
  • "Mentee" is one of those words that's not a real word until so many people use it that it becomes real. I think you'll make a better impression on your readers if you use the real word: "protégé". (You can, of course, acknowledge that some people use "mentee".) Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 18:32
  • 'Mentee' appears in all the main dictionaries so it's certainly a real word now. 'Protégé' sounds old-fashioned to me (and I'm far from youthful). In the world of UK office work, 'mentee' would usually make a better impression than protégé. 'Protégé' can carry the implication of favouritism whereas mentee-mentor simply defines the relationship. As always, it's important to know your audience and what they'll respond to best. Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 19:08

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