The recent buzz among some of the denizens of the blogosphere has been centered around writing tips. There has been an on-going comments conversation by Scnoodlepooh, Duke of Earl, Old Hoss, and others. There were some excellent tips suggested. Well, I guess I should chime in too.
Rather than offer some tips, I'll just throw out some of the things to which I try to adhere. I would be remiss if I didn't say that some of their suggestions are usually in play in my postings. Taken one way, that suggestion might suggest that I subscribe to the obvious. However, taken as it was intended, those suggestions should be used depending on the style of the author and not as iron-clad rules. That they are usually in play in my postings, it should be noted that usually is an operative word here, folks.
Title: I too, like to come up with catchy titles. I then try to keep the posting to the theme promised by the title. For me, this is not always easy. Which came first, the title or the blog? Now, that is an interesting question, to which I am wont to answer with a less than interesting response. In a word, I haven't the foggiest idea! This is because I have posted under both scenarios. I have a large list of potential titles, which I have harvested from newspaper headlines, book titles, movies, conversations, other blogs, etc. One source of titles comes from incorporating the word blog and making up words; an example of this is the recent post, Discomblogulated.
....Tonight I found myself in a quandary. I had the idea for the blog, but instead of having no working title, I had several. These were: Write or Wrong, It's My Write!, It's Your Write!, Rites of Writage, Righting The Writing, and the onerous Wright's Rite: Write Right. As my intent was not for myself but for any who read this, I feel the one used was appropriate.
Posting: Assuming a topic has been chosen, I like to first sit down with pen and legal pad. I gather my thoughts and jot them down usually in a rough draft or outline. Most of the time I have a completed draft, spelling and punctuation checked, before I even sit down at the computer. It is rare that I sit down and compose directly from my thoughts to the screen. I find this difficult. I admire those of you who can post in this manner.
Grammar: Obviously grammar includes not only spelling and punctuation, but verb tenses and complete sentences. I try not to end sentences with prepositions. I often find my self correcting plural and singular verbs as well as direct and indirect objects. I try not to dangle a participle, not only in my writing but in public too. It could be considered indecent if your participles are exposed. I shall have not mixed present, past, and future tenses.
Structure: When a thought changes, it is wise to start new sentences and of course paragraphs. It is here that John's advice to show plenty of white works well. The typical reader can lose interest rather quickly if he/she has to plow through long sentences and paragraphs. I have been taking this piece of advice to another level by inserting visuals to break up a long page of text. I feel it gives the reader some eye candy to digest while reading my ramblings. Initially I just threw in pictures that I liked, usually cartoon characters from my youth-wasting hours in front of the TV set. Lately, I have tried to choose images that reflected the theme of the blog.
I try to use figures of speech as much as possible. The ones I tend to use the most are: metaphors, personification, irony, hyperbole, onomatopoeia, alliteration,allusion, and John, of course assonance. I'm sure I have used other figures of speech but didn't realize it, such as euphemisms, euphony, synecdoche, etc. I do tend to avoid similes, I think they are over used.
I tend to agree with Old Hoss that writing in third person is refreshing. The Pointmeister likes to use third person writing from time to time. I like to use quotes and whether used as originally quoted or paraphrased, the person should be identified. The same goes for copied material, and as Schnoodlepooh mentioned, not only should the source be named, but a link to their site is especially respectful.
I feel that a writer can never have enough source and reference material. Besides the obvious dictionary, a Thesaurus is a must. I also use a Dictionary of Synonyms and Antonyms, a book of quotations, a rhyming Dictionary, a Medical Dictionary, an Encylopedia, and an Atlas. Of course, the internet has many sites covering those mentioned as well as many not mentioned.
In the end, advice or no, it is your blog and you must first satisfy yourself with what you write and how you write it. No matter how well or poorly written, art, and writing is an art, is ultimately in the eye of the beholder. None of the advice and methods cited here are absolute, but taking some of them into account can only improve and enhance your writing. You read me, I read you, and to what end? We read to be entertained and perchance, to learn. Besides, if they don't like what you write, then our friend Bart Simpson says it best! After all, It's Your Write!