#AuthorToolboxBlogHop

The five whys. Why.

The Secret of the Five Whys

The secret of the five whys is known to a few writers, but it’s such an awesome way to know your characters and thus make plotting easier, that we had to share. Feel free to pass it on.

The five whys

A long time ago, when I started writing, a friend (hey, Lisa!) would grill me on my character’s motivation. One answer was never enough for her, she had to ask and ask and ask until the character was stripped bare. Only then would she relent and let me continue telling the rest of the story.

I named her method “The Five Whys” because that was the average number of times she asked me “Why?” about the character.

Let me give you an example.

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dreaded passive voice. www.cherylsterlingbooks.com

The Dreaded Passive Voice

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m a low-life snob when it comes to using passive voice in writing. I’m better than that. I know enough not to let the dreaded passive voice into my sentences. When I critique someone else’s work, you can bet I’ve commented on the number of times they used “was”.

Imagine my chagrin/humiliation/embarrassment as I edited one of my own manuscripts and found not just a few instances of the dreaded passive voice, but many, many sentences. Oh, the indignity. Oh, the horror.

What is Passive Voice?

For all the new writers out there (and, apparently, me), a definition of passive voice:

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Old Airport Beach, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Blog to Book

How AtoZ makes it easy to write a book

Blog to book is a marketing tool I’m using due to my participation in April’s AtoZChallenge. 26 blogs in 26 days. For the second year in a row, I’m taking part with an amazing group of people at BlogChatter, which supports bloggers based in India. This year, they asked me to be a mentor for their ebook Carnival, a project that assists bloggers into turning their posts into an ebook. Me! A mentor! In India!

Sunday, April 15th, blogchatter held an Ask Me Anything all-day chat on Twitter (#AMACarnival). Anyone could post writing and marketing questions, and any of the mentors could jump in with advice. As there’s a twelve-hour time difference, I participated in the early morning and evening shifts, getting about five hours of sleep on Saturday. All well worth it.

Last year, I shared writing and marketing tips, posted my ebook on blogchatter’s website for two months, where I received lots of downloads and free publicity. After the two-month exclusionary period expired, I published it on Amazon. This year, I wrote 26 short stories, set in a fictional Arizona retirement community (similar to where I live) where odd and unexplained events occur. I’m forgoing the ebook carnival and have collected and published them on Amazon, some of them prior to publication on my blog. (Exclusive! Read them before my blog peeps do! 99¢) <–the previous was a blatant marketing ploy.

Twilight, Arizona, a blog to book supernatual short story collection

The AtoZChallenge and the ebook Carnival have convinced me of the benefits of the blog to book concept. It’s an easy way to recycle content. One stone, two birds. Win-win, and all that stuff.

There are two ways to blog to book, and I’ll cover each.

Blog to book from Scratch

This is the method I used for my short story collection, Twilight, Arizona. As AtoZ is an alphabetical challenge, I took a common belief or fallacy (ie, anything can be bartered or traded at a thrift store) and created a story around it. Because I’m anal, er, organized, I started writing in January, five stories every two weeks, with the last two Saturdays in March reserved for proofreading, adding images, SEO, and giving them the same format. (Last year I scrambled to get them written and posted in time. It was not pretty)

If you’re blogging a fiction book, your process will be similar to what you’d use if you’re writing a book—picking an idea, deciding on your characters, researching, outlining then writing. Break the book into manageable parts, whether scenes or chapters, and upload them to your blog.

You can publish them on the fly or after the book is written.

If you’re blogging a non-fiction book, the process is about the same. Pick your subject, organize the subject into similar ideas, add details, research then write.

Blog to Book from Existing Posts

Look through your existing posts. Is there a common theme? At the time, the post might have been an observation of your life, but in context with other posts, you might have a memoir. Or a travelogue. Or a group of essays.

Can you add more content to what you have? Expand on the hurricane warning when you lived on Big Island, Hawaii? Does the material need updating? Can you customize the content for different audiences?

Old Airport Beach, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

This chair is waiting for me.

Hawaiian tourists should be warned of undertows, sharks, and there are no plastic bags in the state (a few in the ABC Stores, but the first time I went to Target and the cashier asked if I wanted a bag, I went Huh? Of course I want a bag. Then got charged for a cloth bag.)

Hawaiian locals might want to know the location of the best transfer station (garbage dump where you can buy another man’s junk for cheap). Or alternate routes during Ironman (there aren’t many).

Can I supplement the content with videos, links, and resource material?

But Cheryl, I don’t want to put my book out for free or do research on a non-fiction book.

Okay, I get it. Writing time is precious. Think outside the box. Why not take the stuff you’re doing anyway and turn it into a companion piece for your book? You’re throwing your research links into a bookmark or file anyway, why not turn them into a resource chapter? Why not recycle your character worksheets? Did you blog about that huge error neither you, your editor, nor your beta readers caught? Include it. Who online helped you, encouraged you? Give them a shout out. Who left a bad review or halted your progress? Write about your feelings when it happened.

Assemble all the bits and pieces of what went on behind the scenes of Your BestSeller #1 and publish them on Amazon as a permafree book. Or offer it to someone signing up for your newsletter. Behind the scenes material makes you more human to your readers and helps build your brand.

Nowadays, writing includes more than sitting down and pounding out 80-100K. Marketing is part of the package. Blog to book is a way you can do one by doing the other.

Happy blogging! Happy blog-to-book!

This post is part of the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop, a monthly hop where authors can share tips and tricks about writing and marketing. Follow the hashtag on Twitter to read more blogs.

The #AuthorToolboxBlogHop is a monthly event on the topic of resources and learning for authors. Feel free to hop around to the various blogs and see what you learn!

Blessings to you,

Cheryl

 

 

 

 

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