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Ideas and encouragement for writers.



Blogging Fiction

I hang out at bookshops and libraries a lot. New books, used books – it doesn’t matter to me. I’m always looking for something delightful.

In each shop or library I know my favorite shelves; the places where I’m most likely to find the books I’ll enjoy.

Do you do that? Are you pulled inevitably to your favorite genre? I think most people are. We might look elsewhere (bargain bin?) to a certain extent, but we know which genre and what kind of reading gives us most pleasure.

So when bloggers that I follow blog a piece of their fiction I’m hoping that it will be in my genre. Often it is not, and that’s fine. I start to read it anyway. Maybe this will open up a new genre to me.

Fantasy seems to be the genre of choice for many bloggers. It means that the reader is pitched into a different world with creatures who may or may not humanoid. They have a whole new dimension of crises and issues. On top of that have names that are difficult to relate to.

It seems to me that the blogger/writer has given him/herself a really tough assignment here. Unless they are blogging to other fantasy aficionados exclusively they are asking a lot of the average blog reader.

If you’re writing a novel you don’t  explain a million background details  right off – you build them in  gradually later. But if you are showcasing your fantasy fiction extract in a blog, perhaps as a teaser, how are we going to know all the necessary background information?

You may have created a complex civilization in a distant and well-defined galaxy with incredible perils but how are you going to pull your other-genre reader into it in the short space of a blog?

You have set yourself a task that is more intense and trickier than sitting down to write the novel. You have to make it so magical that you pull in your other-genre readers within a few hundred words and keep them reading. Bear in mind that many are out of their comfort zone in this genre.

If I read a novel and come across a character called Pamela or Tiffany or Bubba I pretty well know what kind of person I’m meeting. Like them or not, I connect. If they’re called Brunk or Armith I have no idea. If they hail from Strabling I’m not much wiser. Does this make them friend or enemy?

If I have no connection with them lose interest pretty fast. Perhaps I should try harder. With a little more work maybe I would get it. That’s not the point. To me reading is about pleasure, engagement, increasing my emotional understanding.

It isn’t about working and trying harder, virtuous as those things are.

Blogging fiction showcases your work but it requires extra skill to draw in other-genre readers. They have stopped by to read hoping for delight. Have you welcomed them?


Simple Blogging

Blogging is a really useful answer for people who like to write, but who perhaps are not getting published as often as they would like.

So, if blogging is the answer, what are the questions? The questions, some of them, are:

How can I get other people to read my work?

Whatever you write – fiction, non-fiction, memoir, poetry, kid-lit – it isn’t going to reach anyone if it is in a file folder in your desk or on your computer. Blogging gets it out there.

But isn’t it difficult?

(Pardon me while I laugh. If I’m doing it, it isn’t difficult, trust me on that one.) You go to WordPress (my favorite, and the one I’m using here) or Blogger, pick a title, pick a theme – which is the visual layout of your blog, and start writing. It’s that easy. you don’t have to pay anything, although WordPress does have a more complex version that costs a small amount.

But maybe my writing isn’t that good yet, and I’m no good at grammar.

Writing, and knowing other people will be reading your writing, is great motivation to improve. If it’s just grammar, do some research and write yourself a few simple rules covering basic mistakes like their/there and its/it’s. And if your writing isn’t ‘that good’, believe me, writing regularly will improve it.

Can I make my fortune putting ads on there?

It’s called ‘monetizing’ and I’ve heard that some people have earned money that way. Personally, to me, it looks  like a lot of work for not much reward. In the beginning just concentrating on writing. Focus on making your work high quality so people will return time after time for more.

What if people steal my work?

It’s unlikely, but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Unless they are re-publishing blog after whole blog of yours under their own name I’d just take it as a compliment. (I’ve written books that were plagiarized big time on two occasions. Having an occasional blog sentence stolen is not going to get me excited.)

What should I blog about?

What are you interested in? What can you talk for hours about? What do you believe in? What do you wish other people know more about, or wish they would do differently? What is your ‘thing’? What turns your crank? That’s what you should blog about.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a popular topic like cooking pasta or something unusual like shoeing Icelandic ponies. You’ll find people who are interested and who want to read your thoughts on it. Your take on it is unique.

But what if I don’t really know much about anything?

Can you write in an amusing way? Can you inspire people with ideas. Can you motivate people? Have you overcome an illness or personal tragedy so you can guide others through that? Do you want to share your faith or a way of life you have discovered?

Blogging is a direct route to readers. It removes the gatekeepers – the publishers who must publish what sells most or what the advertisers want. This is just you and the reader. No gatekeeper.

What a marvellous opportunity. Take it.

Versatile Blogger

This is a fairly new blog – maybe six weeks old. I’m enjoying writing it – it’s fun to share ideas and connect with people. Still, I’m at the point where I know I have to write lots of high quality content to attract and keep readers.

So, imagine my surprise – and my huge pleasure – last night when a fellow blogger passed along a Versatile Blogger award to me. to me! Yay! Maybe not quite the Pulitzer prize, but hey, I get to brag and put a cute little image on my site.

Now, with most awards you earn it first, then you celebrate. This is different. I’ve done my dance of joy, and had a glass of wine. Now I have to earn the award. I have to share seven things about myself and list 15 of my favourite blogs. So, here goes.

About me:

– I’m nuts about animals. When I go for a walk, dog walkers grab on to their dogs, afraid I might kidnap them. So far I have restrained myself.

– I have two cats who have extra toes. Clipping their claws takes a whole morning.

– I have two grown kids, two grandkids, a granddog and five grandcats.

– I plan to kidnap my granddog, Buddy, but my daughter checks my pockets before I leave her house. (He’s a small dog.)

– I started writing, in pencil in a lined exercise book, when I was ten years old.

– That was 15 years ago (Well, nobody said I had to tell the truth.)

– I’m happy. (That’s the truth.)

I’ll tell you about some interesting and favourite blogs next time.

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