Flomu (or whatever he calls himself now) has decreed that today shall be Editorial Day. So I shall oblige and write an editorial. In the spirit of Flomu himself, a self-proclaimed cynical asshole, I’ll write a meta post
explaining how much other bloggers suck and pissing everyone off giving helpful writing advice. This is more intended for other bloggers than for my regular readers, so you might want to skip this, unless you’re interested in improving your own writing.
How to Write Real Good
- Have something to say.
- Say it.
First, let me acknowledge that I am not the world’s best writer. A more accurate title for this post would be “How to Not Write Crap.” Because honestly, that is likely all you will have time for as a blogger, especially as an episodic blogger who publishes at least a post a day.
If I say so myself, I do ok with step three: see two of my favorite posts. Some writers seem to think that length is a good thing: I see them brag about how they wrote a thousand word post on Twitter. Later, I go read the thousand word post, and it manages to say less than my zero word post did. So before you write a thousand word post, make sure you have something to say! And once you say it, stop! It takes your readers time to read your posts. Don’t make that time wasted.
My biggest difficulties are with steps one and two. I don’t always have a lot to say, especially with episodic posts. But that’s where step three comes in, because when I don’t have anything more to say, I stop. I’d much rather read (and write) a ten word post that says very little than a thousand word post that says the same thing.
And when I do have a lot to say, I tend to have a bit of a problem with step two (I think). I write as if I’m talking to myself, and if something is obvious, I skip over it. The problem is that things that seem obvious to me are not necessarily obvious to everyone else, and vice-versa.
But in general, step two is the easy one, although of course you could spend a lifetime improving at it. It’s steps one and three that give people the most difficulty.
Here’s one suggestion for step one: organize your thoughts. Don’t just put everything in a mass of paragraphs. I like to plan out what I’m going to say before I even start writing. I put in the section headers beforehand, and have an outline of what I’m going to say. Before I used section headings, my writing was a rambling mess, and I felt that using sections helped immensely. This will help with step three as well, since once you’ve fleshed out the topics, you’re done.
An essential part of having something to say is limiting what you’re going to say. I could easily write a thousand page book analyzing Mawaru Penguindrum, for example. But I don’t. No one wants to read that. Pick some important points, and say them. Try to say everything and you end up saying nothing at all.
Also, use lists and relevant pictures when necessary! You’re writing something for people to read, not trying to impress your high school English teacher.
How to Make Me Read Your Blog
I subscribe to over eighty blogs, which publish over fifty items per day. Unfortunately, if I would like to do anything besides read blogs all day, I cannot read all of these posts. I’d estimate that I read about 10% of the posts, skim 40%, and skip the rest. How do I decide which to read, skim or skip?
Well, the best way to get all your articles in the read pile is to write interesting posts! Two of my favorite bloggers to read are animekritik and E Minor (E Minor, come back!). They always have something interesting to say, and are masters at step one. They both know how to stop, as well. I’ll read everything they write, even if it’s about a show I haven’t seen. Check out some of their posts for good examples.
But, not everyone will always have the most interesting things to say. Here are some easy steps you can take to move your post up to the skim or read piles:
- Make your post viewable in Google Reader! I am lazy. If I have to open a new tab to read your post, my enthusiasm will wane. There is no excuse for not doing this. Hey, Anya, BeldenOtaku, Justin, Riyoga, AOIA, Nakayo, Glo, feal87, TWWK and Marina, I’m talking to you! On a related note, make sure your pictures work in Google Reader! And create a favicon!
- Give a thoughtful title to your posts. This is the first part of your post I read, and your first chance to catch my attention. And no, “Mirai Nikki 11” is not a thoughtful title.
- A blog post is not a letter! I’ll give a shout out to my friends beldenotaku and feal87! If you haven’t hooked me by your title, I’ll decide whether to read your post or not based on the first sentence. If that sentence begins with “Hey minna” or “Hello everyone” I’ve already lost interest. Just say what you want to say, don’t add pointless fluff!
- Don’t summarize! Perhaps some people read blogs for summaries, but this is how to make me read your blog. I have already watched the episode, and reading a summary is a waste of my time. If I haven’t watched the episode, it’s because I didn’t like the show and am not going to read your post anyway. I will skip anything that smacks of a summary. So if you must summarize, clearly delineate the summary from your own thoughts. I might scroll down to read your thoughts then.
- Talk about anime, not how much you suck (you don’t!), how busy you are, or your lengthy quest to write your blog post. Some personal stuff is fine, but don’t let your blog be about your journey to write a blog.
Doing these things will increase the chances I’ll read your post. But again, the best way is to write interesting posts. The take-away message is:
- Have something to say.
- Say it.
They say one who masters English is to become the Masterof all. Go forth and become the Masterof all!