Saturday, November 11, 2017
I was an enthusiastic blogger right from the very beginning. I have always encouraged my writing friends to blog.
I have four blogs now Red State Blue Collar (politics), God Loves Circles Best (Nascar), RafeVincennes (writing), My Cancer Journey - (cancer). I've used Blogspot.com for my blogs since I started, not because I did research and decided they were the best but because they were the first blog host I heard of. That's been years ago now and I've been well-satisfied with their service.
Blogspot provides you with all kinds of fascinating statistics to track your blogs, like how many read it yesterday, today and last month and how many have read it since it started. They have graphs and charts to see when readership spikes, which is usually shortly after you add a post.
They give you the details of where your audience is located.
Red State Blue Collar, the political blog, is the one I've been writing the longest. The number of hits it's had over its lifetime is well over 100,000. It has had 151 visitors today and 1941 last month. The countries that most often read it are, as you'd expect, the U.S. and Canada but I also have readers in the Ukraine, Singapore, France and Ghana (seriously, Ghana?), among others.
My Cancer Journey is my newest blog. It had 71 visitors today and 433 last month. The U.S. and Canada read it most but after them, my largest readership is in Poland.
I originally created Rafe Vincennes to promote my book, Sociopath?, and the whole book is there but it gradually morphed into a general blog about writing. It has had four readers today and 1217 last month. Oddly enough, I have more readers for Rafe in China than any other country, including the U.S. The next two countries that read it are Japan and Russia.
Lastly, the NASCAR blog, God Loves Circles Best, had 93 hits yesterday and 667 this month. The top two countries to read it are the U.S. and Russia. Who knew Russia was so interested in NASCAR?
None of these makes me an especially popular blogger. Some well-known writers have thousands of readers for every post but I have my niche and I'm happy with it. I find it enthralling to think someone in Singapore or Ghana or Poland or China is interested enough to read what I write.
The main element of blogging is dedication. You must be willing to keep it updated without fail or your readers will give up just as you have. I have friends who started blogs and petered out after only two or three. It takes a while to build a significant audience and most bloggers can stand the loneliness they feel at first when it seems like they are writing into a void. But if you hang with it, the payoff eventually comes. .
Wednesday, November 01, 2017
The worst mistake a beginning writer can make, in my humble opinion, is to be repetitious. I always knew when I had a group of new students who were just starting out, the girls would be beautiful, the men would be handsome, their hair would be blonde or black or red, their eyes would be blue or brown or green.
Usually, with the first group of manuscripts I critiqued, I would circle all these over-used words and ask them to find a more creative replacement.
A beautiful woman can be stunning or gorgeous or radiant or lovely. A handsome man can be striking or good looking.
Blond hair can be wheaten or flaxen. It can be a palomino mane or a waterfall of butterscotch. It can be the color of honey or butter or daffodils.
Black hair can be lustrous sable curls It can be onyx or ebony or raven.
Red hair can be ginger or rust or marigold.
Try to use more than one word to in your descriptions. Not green eyes but green the color of moss or seafoam or emerald or sage.
Blue as in cobalt, azure, sapphire or cerulean.
Brown as in hazelnut, latte, sand or fawn.
Complexion can be tan, tawny, ivory, cream or toasted.
It is exactly the same when you're describing places. Grass isn't always green. The sky isn't always blue. The dress isn't always red - maybe its flame or rose or garnet or scarlet or crimson.
I always told my students to play with their thesaurus (or, of course, now I suppose you can use Google instead). . Find words that appeal to you, that you think have a ring to them. Words that sound joyful or somber or whatever mood you want them to convey.
Another quibble I always had with new students was too many "ands". Rather have several shorter sentences than a great long string of ands. I usually went through and struck most of the ands out of manuscripts to show students how much more dynamic sentences sound without them.
Of course, in the end, it is your own style that counts. Perhaps description just isn't your cup of tea. You spend all your creativity on action. This bothers me as a reader. I want the author to tell me who his or her characters are. I don't want to have to figure it out for myself.