Monday, October 1, 2007

How to write a chapter in 7 days

My first chapter is due October 7th. I know what you're thinking. At least she has the weekend in case she gets behind! I have pulled some late night sessions writing chapters before. Chapter 1 has got to be one of the hardest chapters to write. Ideally, this would be the last chapter I write. Then I could pull on all the information I already wrote and distill it down for Chapter 1.

Instead, I start with my outline and section titles and try to picture the general flow of the book in my head. It helps to think of an example reader, commonly known as a "persona" in the web design industry. A persona is a description of the type of audience you expect to have, detailed as an individual. It could also be called a "profile". Some even include pictures of people to help marketers and designers visualize who they are describing!

Here's a sample persona:
Margaret has used blogger for several months to post examples of her artwork and to display her entries for the Friday competitions on IllustrationFriday. She wants to add a custom header image to her template, add a twitter widget, and figure out how to add a picture gallery to her site. She also wants to learn about using feedburner, and how to add Amazon books to her sidebar.

When the audience is described in a more personal way, it is easier to create sites, books, or cars that serve the user. Ok so how will this help me write the first chapter in seven days? Well the hardest part is the actual writing. Commit to writing at least a page a day, even if it is stream of consciousness, and things will be easier. Editing whatever has been written tricks the brain, since it doesn't realize actual writing is taking place. It's just editing, right? No pressure.

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