Sunday, August 20, 2006

How to write a blog post.

Maria keeps yelling at me for yelling at her for the way she blogs, so here's an easy to follow how-to for those of you new to the blogosphere. First, the post in question (font reduced to show you what a chonky block it is, and since you're not going to read it anyway):

So I've been accused by certain MySpace, and real-life, buddies of writing blogs that are too lengthy (a-hem, Lord Boinky, I'm looking at you). Of course, it certainly wouldn't be the first time I've been called overly verbose or wordy. I do tend to ramble on at times and get off-track (in both speaking and writing :). Plus, the English teacher in me tends to obsess over supporting details, description, meticulously spell-checking/editing/proofreading everything (even though I have had a few glaring slip-ups lately......"man cocoa," etc......which was totally a typo, btw, King Boy :) Still, though, if we're going to analyze the entire "blog" genre of writing, are there really standards that dictate length? I'm a bit new to this, I admit; but, I have certainly seen quite a few amusing blog entries that span several pages. And if they're entertaining, well-written entries, who cares about length? I'd rather read a longer entry that details something interesting or is, at the very least, thought-provoking, than a paragraph about someone's monotonous work day, what they picked up at the supermarket, and what leftovers they dug out of the fridge for dinner. Seriously, I DON'T CARE, nor should I. What kind of self-important ego-maniac thinks their friends and loved ones care about the mundane details of their day? I actually read a non-MySpace blog of an acquaintance (who's NOT on here), that talked about the SOUP she ate for dinner. SOUP. It was only a few sentences, but really, if that's all you have to write about, why even bother? I mean, if she was going to go into the significance of the soup, like say, her dead grandmother gave her the family recipe, or how eating soup reminds her of cold winter days when she was a kid, and wasn't life so much easier back? Blah blah blah nostalgia, etc., I could maybe understand, but she didn't. She just talked about the "yummy" soup she heated up from the night before, and that was essentially it. No details, no significance, no anecdotes on soup, nothing. Maybe I'm being too judgemental (which I've also been accused of, perhaps accurately), but to quote Steve Martin in Trains, Planes and Automobiles, "...You know, when you're telling these little stories? Here's a good idea - have a POINT. It makes it SO much more interesting for the listener!" In fact, I've often used that quote with my college and high school students over the years, telling them they should ask themselves if they HAD a point after reading over their work. If they can't find it, methinks they better re-think their purpose, as well as their thesis statement (or if you're using the dumbed-down curriculum in the NYC public schools, your "BIG IDEA"......thesis statement is just too old school and stuffy.....grrrrrrr).

Nobody could follow all of that without groping the screen and needing Visine. That, and just the SIGHT of that much text all at once is the ocular equivalent of trying to swallow a basketball. Without chewing first.

The major offender here is that it's just too much all at once, a common mistake to anyone not accustomed to writing for the Web. Actually, I'm not really gonna write out a whole step-by-step. Just look at the finished product and use your intuition to see the diff.

So I've been accused by certain MySpace, and real-life, buddies of writing blogs that are too lengthy (a-hem, Lord Boinky, I'm looking at you).

Of course, it certainly wouldn't be the first time I've been called overly verbose or wordy. I do tend to ramble on at times and get off-track (in both speaking and writing :). Plus, the English teacher in me tends to obsess over supporting details, description, meticulously spell-checking/editing/proofreading everything (even though I have had a few glaring slip-ups lately......"man cocoa," etc......which was totally a typo, btw, King Boy :)

Still, though, if we're going to analyze the entire "blog" genre of writing, are there really standards that dictate length? I'm a bit new to this, I admit; but, I have certainly seen quite a few amusing blog entries that span several pages. And if they're entertaining, well-written entries, who cares about length?

I'd rather read a longer entry that details something interesting or is, at the very least, thought-provoking, than a paragraph about someone's monotonous work day, what they picked up at the supermarket, and what leftovers they dug out of the fridge for dinner. Seriously, I DON'T CARE, nor should I.

What kind of self-important ego-maniac thinks their friends and loved ones care about the mundane details of their day? I actually read a non-MySpace blog of an acquaintance (who's NOT on here), that talked about the SOUP she ate for dinner. SOUP. It was only a few sentences, but really, if that's all you have to write about, why even bother?

I mean, if she was going to go into the significance of the soup, like say, her dead grandmother gave her the family recipe, or how eating soup reminds her of cold winter days when she was a kid, and wasn't life so much easier back? Blah blah blah nostalgia, etc., I could maybe understand, but she didn't. She just talked about the "yummy" soup she heated up from the night before, and that was essentially it. No details, no significance, no anecdotes on soup, nothing.

Maybe I'm being too judgemental (which I've also been accused of, perhaps accurately), but to quote Steve Martin in Trains, Planes and Automobiles, "...You know, when you're telling these little stories? Here's a good idea - have a POINT. It makes it SO much more interesting for the listener!"

In fact, I've often used that quote with my college and high school students over the years, telling them they should ask themselves if they HAD a point after reading over their work. If they can't find it, methinks they better re-think their purpose, as well as their thesis statement (or if you're using the dumbed-down curriculum in the NYC public schools, your "BIG IDEA"......thesis statement is just too old school and stuffy.....grrrrrrr).

Now I'd actually READ that. Same content, but MUCH easier to digest, from an internet-reader perspective. It's not "traditional" writing, but it's not a traditional medium either. People who read stuff on the web need it to look snappy and keep their eyes moving, not getting lost in a sea of verbage.

It's also worth noting that blogging spawned from the keeping of personal online journals. They're written for the AUTHOR, not so much for YOU (except this particular post, of course). Blogs have such random audiences, maybe someone really needs the bright spot that IS someone's yummy bowl of soup in their day.

Still, at the end of the day, I'll say the same thing I'd say to people who want to ban prayer in school and take God off our money: If you don't like it, ignore it and look the other way. Hell, I'm an agnostic and I support people praying or putting God on money or whatever. Does it affect me? Not till they start burning crosses on my lawn.

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