Monday, January 19, 2009

FriedOkra's Simple Tips for Blog Writing, Numbers 4 & 5


I'm back with count 'em, not one but TWO blog-writin' tips today, because these two go together like biscuits and gravy. Or biscuits and honey.

Or biscuits and more biscuits.


Gosh I love biscuits.


Now where was I?

Oh yes. The blog-writing tips.

They're a nice pair, these two. You really can't much have one without the other, which explains why I fell victim to the biscuits-n-gravy metaphor.

It was completely unavoidable.

4. Vary your sentence structures*.

Now look. If you're riding along on the flat, monotonous highway, tires bumping over crack after evenly-spaced crack, your eyelids eventually start to droop sleepily right?

Kathunk. Kathunk. Kathunk. ZZZZZZZZZZ.

But winding and twisting and joggling over varied terrain, curve, bump, peak, valley, gas, brake, gas, brake, gas, brake, you stay awake and alert, because you don't know what's around the next bend, right?

It's the same with writing. Construct your paragraphs so the meter doesn't go all kathunky on your reader.

Let's consider a paragraph of sentences all written in a plain old Subject-Verb construction:

New-fallen snow outside the window glistens brightly. It casts a clean fresh glow over the folds of a nubby blanket. My daughter sleeps beside me on the sofa. I drink in her sweet softness with my eyes and inhale her warm scent. She stirs quietly, smiles and brushes a hand lightly over her cheek. I watch and wonder what she's dreaming.

Here's that same paragraph, jazzed-up with a variety of constructions:

Outside the window, new-fallen snow glistens brightly, casting a clean, fresh glow over the folds of a nubby blanket that covers my daughter, asleep beside me on the sofa. Quietly she stirs, smiles and brushes a hand across her cheek and I watch, wondering what she's dreaming as I drink in her sweet softness and inhale her warm scent.

The same meaning's conveyed, right? But the first version plods, while the second version dances.

Tip Number Four is Vary your sentence structures. No kathunking.

You're better than that, people.

5. Choose good words*.

Grab the dictionary and thesaurus and find just the right words to convey your meanings.

Pack your writing with vivid, nuance-filled action verbs (VERB! THAT'S WHAT'S HAPPENIN'!) instead of the lazy ones like do, does, did, is, am, are, was, were etc.

Grab your readers’ attention by fueling your writing with evocative nouns of precise meaning.

(And please y'all. Don't EVEN get me started on adverbs and adjectives, because you KNOW how I feel about me some adverbs and adjectives: Yes, yes and MORE YES.)

Did you just throw a rock? Or did you {toss, chuck, hurl, fling, lob, cast, bean, hoist, flip or heave} a {boulder, stone, pebble, chard or chip?}

Did the baby walk across the room carrying a blanket, or did she teeter-totter unsteadily over the faded rag-rug, dragging her threadbare, tattered blue wooby behind her?

See? NUANCE, people. NUANCE makes your writing go from flat to fluffy.

I will even add that in certain types of writing, like my type, for example, I'M NOT AGAINST MAKIN' UP A WORD OR TWO HERE OR THERE WHEN NECESSITY DEMANDS IT OF ME.

Case in point: How the heck would I have conveyed my meaning in Tip Number Four above without the word kathunk?

Tip Number Five is Choose Good Words. Don't settle for just A Word. Look for The Word. It's out there (even if it's just in your own head) and when you find it, it'll make you, and your reader, very, very happy.

*I will add a teensy-tinsy little caveat here and say that if you're writing an article, how-to guide or other just-convey-the-facts piece, you'll probably want to leave out the funkiest of sentence constructions and stick to using actual dictionary-writer-approved words.

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  1. Awesome tips, Megan. Took me back to Mrs. Burk, it did! Maybe even some LO, but Linbaugh, not so much. Hee, hee.

  2. Coming from Twitter. Great writing tips. I can use all you have!

  3. NUANCE, people! I love it! Great tips!

  4. Lovin' this series. I feel like I'm back in English 101 - wonder if I could retake the SAT when it's over?

  5. Um, are you sure you were in finance before mommyhood? 'Cause this sounds an awful lot like what my Writing Teacher Self tried so desperately to impart to students when I was teaching . . . except you say it so much better. Too bad I didn't have Fried Okra to tutor me in my teaching back then!

    More great tips!

  6. I have been thinking about your tips and trying to conscientiously use them while I am writing in my blog.
    Thank you so much!

  7. These are the same concepts I teach my kiddos in 4th and 5th grade! Good writing doesn't change with the age of the author!

  8. Biscuits? Did you say biscuits?


    Mary, hungry for lunch

    PS-- will leave window open and read rest of post later.

  9. Thanks for this post! It was really good and I am so glad that you posted that link to the Youtube video. They are so catchy and cheesy, yet perfect to show to my junior high kids. :)

  10. As someone who just re-started my blog because I didn't have the right agenda, I truly appreciate your post.

    Delurking to say hello - and I love biscuits too BTW. Plus fried okra - lol.


  11. Excellent tips Megan, I tend to be a rather dull writer but will try harder.

  12. thank you, thank you, thank you! I love and need these tips.

  13. Wonderful! I love your made-up-Fried-Okraisims. They always make my day.

  14. love it so very much!


    My tender loving heart is thumpin' a tad bit faster having consumed this piece of fabulously penned advice.

    either way......THANKS!

  15. Great tips! :-) thanks for sharing them!

  16. OH! Good stuff.
    I love how you write. And now you're sharing your secrets. yummy!!

  17. I completely loved this series. =) You have the ability to write poignantly and with humor at the same time. It's a gift.

    And I'm pretty sure 'kathunk' might be in Batman comic books...does that make it a real word?

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