How to write a fantastic book in four months, Part III




In the third post of this series about Relational Thinking: from abstractions to applications, we look at the story-telling approach that we took in writing the book.

This is the final post of our three-posts series! This is going to be a short one focusing on the non-obvious story-telling features of the Relational Thinking book supported by the JupyterBook technology, and how these features are used to guide the readers’ thinking.

While illustrations, videos and animations are obvious visual elements of story-telling, there are a few not-so-obvious ones as well. We heavily used the special content blocks, funnily named as “admonitions” for guiding the readers thought process along the learning. We created a few templates to help switch between different modes of learning:

  1. Pause and Ponder. This is the place in the book where the reader is called to take a step back and reflect on a question, like the one below.

  2. Key points. These blocks bring attention to the reader the most important take-aways or key concepts of a content block.

  3. Puzzles. These are the blocks where the reader is called to verify their understanding of the content by solving a puzzle. The puzzle is made to stand-out from the rest of the content in an admonition block. For every puzzle, the answer is presented within a collapsible block.

  4. Attention. Even though it sounds scary, this is a fun-block that we used occasionally at the beginning of a chapter. We used this block to give the reader a sense of what to expect in the chapter and to prepare oneself for the journey. The following attention block appears in the beginning of Chapter 6.

Another major story-telling feature of this book are the live-coding blocks. In Chapter 6 and Chapter 7, the reader first solves a puzzle by hand. Later in these chapters, coding solutions are provided for those manual solutions. In the live coding, readers can modify the inputs and view the results right away without having to go through the process of setting up the programming environment. The versatility of code solutions are experienced first-hand by the reader in these parts.

Well, that’s about it!

We will appreciate your feedback on the book, which you can give by following the link at the beginning of each chapter. This is an experiment of writing creative non-fiction in formal mathematics.