Wednesday, March 30, 2016

What Sort of Blog Posts Should I Do?

Hey, so, yep, skipped the blog posts for the last two weeks and now that I have returned I'm putting up this post at like, the extremely last second. Sorry about that.

One of the reasons (besides just being lazy and terrible) that I skip posts is because I am just clueless about what to write. Not that I don't have ideas, but I'm never sure if the ideas are good enough. I know that not too many people read this blog regularly (hi, Mom!) but it would be nice to make sure you guys aren't suffering too badly reading this, and maybe draw in some other readers.

So, I was thinking of making a sort of little catalogue of the different types of posts I do, and it would be great if you guys want to offer some feedback? As in, which ones are your favorites or which ones you want to see less of? (I know the comments section on here isn't easy to operate, so you can tell me in person or comment on Facebook or reply on Twitter if you want). Even if not, I guess this will be a fun sort of housekeeping post.

I suspect that my best-liked posts are the funny listicles that keep it short, and the food ones. I do not have that much humor in me, though, guys. Sometimes I try to be funny and it's a disaster and you don't want to see that.

Anyway. Types of posts I have. Let's go.

Writing Advice Posts
These generally come in the form of lists with big long paragraphs of advice. I draw from my own experience and stuff I've heard online/in my classes, and just preach about writing. Sometimes I have a long rant but it's usually list-form about specific ideas.

Recent examples: How to Write Good Beginnings, Some Actually Useful Character Questions, How to Transition from "I'm Writing a Novel" to "I Wrote a Novel"

Funny Lists
These often take a Buzzfeed listicle format. I present a topic and write sarcastic, exaggerated examples that fit that topic and make some jokes. Occasionally, when possible, I add gifs. Additionally, sometimes these lists are about food.

Recent examples: 14 Minor Differences Between Things in the Life of a Writer, Ten Things That Happen on Young Writers' Forums, Ten Foods I Want to Eat Now

Collections of Fun Links
I present to you the gifts the Internet has given me recently. Often these have a theme of "funny things" or "stuff to calm you down or cheer you up."

Recent examples: Ten Happy Things I Saw Recently on the Internet, The Ultimate List of Ways to Waste Time on the Internet

Scrapbooks in Art
I take a natural phenomenon- wind, rain, etc- and find poems, artworks, music, videos, stories, and other works of art that remind me of it or that fit that topic. I usually include one of my own poems.

Recent examples: Wind: a Little Scrapbook in Art, Autumn: a Little Scrapbook in Art 

Book Reviews
Pretty straightforward. A list of all the books I've read recently with miniature reviews and recommendations underneath.

Recent examples: Book Reviews 2015, Part Four 

Embarrassing Journal Excerpts
One of my personal favorites, I find old journals or notebooks I wrote in during middle or high school and look for the most embarrassingly bad excerpts. Then I share them here so you can all laugh at me together.

Recent examples: My Hilariously Embarrassing Old Journal Excerpts, Amusing Excerpts from My Old Notebooks

Personality Quizzes
I've only done one of these, but I'm planning to do more. Basically just a fun personality quiz.

Recent examples: Which Type of Pizza Are You?

Poetic Reflection Posts
Long-form personal essays about my life or about nature, and other thoughts. Sometimes with poetry interspersed. Very personal and philosophical.

Recent examples: On Change with Poetry, The Essence of Summer, Spring and Other Happy Things

Miscellaneous Life Ideas
Where I take an idea unrelated to writing and talk a bit about it, maybe offering some fun ideas for your own experiences or just talk. Sometimes funny, sometimes semi-serious.

Recent examples: Ultimate Bucket List for Fall, How to Eat Healthy- by Someone Who Has No Knowledge of that Concept

General Talks About My Life and Personality
I talk about myself, but in ways that I hope are maybe relatable to others. This is often (I hope) funny, or touches upon my writing experiences.

Recent examples: If My Life Was a Novel, Rain in My Poetry

Specific Talks About My Recent Life
Usually happens when I don't know what to write about. I just ramble on about my recent life. I suspect these are not the best posts, haha. Although, sometimes it is about a good experience like Ch1Con that I'd hope you'd want to hear about.

Recent examples: Me Complaining, Interspersed with Cute Animals , Ch1Con Recap

Creative Writing Showcases
I often publish poetry I've recently written or show off my recently written short stories. Sometimes with backstories or explanations.

Recent examples: Fall Semester Poetry, Short Story Showcase: "Gone"

Well, I hope that covers everything, because I think I am staying up a bit too late to post this. Sorry again! Please if you can let me know somewhere which of these you'd like to see more of and which less.
Thank you,

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

How to Write Good Beginnings

Hey everyone! I couldn't think of what to write this week but luckily, this morning in creative writing, we discussed how to write good beginnings to books. Which was a surprise, because often in creative writing we just veer off into random topics. It was kind of fun at first, but I sort of wish we would just stay on topic now. Anyway, whatever.

I think a lot about how to write good beginnings, because honestly, a lot of good books have kind of sucky beginnings. There are a lot of reasons for continuing to read a book after the first few pages, and often it's something like, you have to read it for class, or your friend swears it's absolutely amazing and you want to see when it gets good, stuff like that. And sometimes books with bad beginnings that you have to keep reading anyway do come through with a great story. But if you're just at the bookstore or library picking up a book to see if it's good, you're not likely to keep going with something that's "eh" at the beginning (unless the back cover promises something amazing, I guess, but even then, if it's a bookstore, you might not spend money on it). And when it comes time to choose between reading your new book and wasting time on the Internet, you're going to choose the thing that captures you inextricably. Basically, I'm saying that you're fighting against the Internet for attention. It's a tough job.

How does one fight the Internet for attention, you ask? Well, you have to write something that makes a reader both enjoy what's happening right now and be excited for what comes next. There's several parts to this:

-Voice: Your voice has to be charming, delightful, exciting, witty, easy to read, and a good indicator of the voice for the rest of the book. This has to make the reader think, "I want to hear more from this person." If you've established a good voice for the rest of the book, definitely be sure to amp up the best parts of it here. I've noticed that readers (me in particular) get captivated by voices that point out eccentric or obvious things in funny ways, or make unique observations that no one would have thought of. Or you can just say something that sounds like it would be great on a Pinterest board or something. Again, competing with the Internet.

-Concept: What is unique about your story's concept? If you're writing a story about aliens, what sets this alien story apart from all the others? Do the aliens really like fashion design? Highlight the unique and interesting thing about your story right off the bat. For example, the story we were analyzing in class was about a detective. What made this detective unique was that she was the only female detective in Botswana. So the story highlighted this concept right off the bat.

-Something Happens: I don't necessarily mean action, but something "fun" has to be going on. Something that would compete against a Buzzfeed list. So, frankly, it could be a list- of the types of fairies in your fairy kingdom and the fun tasks they do each day, or the objects on the detective's desk. Obviously, don't stick too long with one topic like that, but move around, catch the reader's attention with stuff that's going on. An interesting conversation. A fun anecdote. A humorous talk about the world the book's set in. You can't just convey information, or have some boring Establishing Nonsense happening (like a regular day at lunch at the protagonist's school or something). It has to be either conveying information in a fun way that is constantly moving forward, like a Buzzfeed article or some Tumblr post or something would, or a narrative bit of action that is unique and exciting.

-Clarity: Starting off a story by confusing your reader is an almost guaranteed way to get them to stop reading. Do not just plunge them into an unfamiliar world without any sort of guidance. Even if you are just plunging them into the unfamiliar world, make sure that they have the potential to figure it out without having to stop reading and work it out like a puzzle. Make sure that if there's a new idea introduced, there's a subtle explanation behind it (not an obvious, dictionary-definition one, but a little snippet of conversation or thought that gives away what's going on). And don't have too much rushing around and context-less dialogue and action when you've just started the book. If there is a huge chaotic mess, you need a huge amount of context and explanation to make it work. Make the beginning as clear as you can.

-Plot Establishment: There's some quote by some author that says something like "start the book as close to the end as you can." Basically, don't take too long to get to what we want to hear: the story. (and for THOSE OF YOU who are going to call me a hypocrite for saying this, I KNOW that I am bad at this myself). Even if you're doing some fun irrelevant nonsense at the beginning, it should actually be relevant in some way, if only just to establish character and background. Everything you put down should be leading us constantly to the end of the story. Otherwise, it's bogging us down.

There's definitely more parts to constructing a good beginning, and I probably didn't word these so well with all my Buzzfeed analogies, haha. I know Buzzfeed isn't the height of literary professionalism, but it is great with one thing: never spending too much time on one idea. There's a concrete idea, a cute bit of words, a gif, and we're on our way to item two. If you want readers to keep turning pages, you should strive, as odd as it sounds, to be like a Buzzfeed list in this way.

Thanks for reading! Let me know if you have any other ideas on how to write beginnings, because that would be helpful for all of us.
See you next week,

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Ten Happy Things I Saw Recently on the Internet

Hey, I'm kind of tired, and I think it would be good to just spread some happiness from stuff I've seen on the Internet. So I'm just going to post links, pictures, videos, anything I can find that has some happiness in it.

1. If you have some time, here's one of my favorite webcomics, Always Human. It's a romance story about two girls in a sci-fi world where everyone uses "mods" to change their appearance and mental capacity.

2. This adorable kitty!

she is enlightened, transcending her corporeal kitty cat form and will soon transform into a being of pure fuzzy lil baby kitten light

3. This Superwoman video came out and it's funny and Superwoman always cheers me up!

4. This hilarious Vine:

5. I already shared this poem on Facebook and Twitter, but March just started and I love this poem "Dear March" by Emily Dickinson:

Dear March - Come in - 
How glad I am -
I hoped for you before -
Put down your Hat - 
You must have walked -
How out of Breath you are - 
Dear March, how are you, and the Rest -
Did you leave Nature well - 
Oh March, Come right upstairs with me -
I have so much to tell -

I got your Letter, and the Birds - 
The Maples never knew that you were coming -
I declare - how Red their Faces grew -         
But March, forgive me - 
And all those Hills you left for me to Hue - 
There was no Purple suitable - 
You took it all with you -         
Who knocks? That April -
Lock the Door -
I will not be pursued -
He stayed away a Year to call 
When I am occupied -         
But trifles look so trivial 
As soon as you have come
That blame is just as dear as Praise 
And Praise as mere as Blame -
6. This adorable tweet:
 7. I've been listening nonstop to Bat for Lashes all week, so here's one of her happier songs:

 8. Here's a list of amazing Afro-Latina spoken word poets I came across who are all super talented, if you like poetry or spoken word.

9. This is just a really cool gif of a ice ball cocktail. I don't drink at all (if you want the recipe, it's here) but I think it's just satisfying to watch it break.


This Ice Ball Cocktail Is the Coolest Thing
Really nice recipes. Every hour.
Show me what you cooked!

10. And finally, another cute thing- if you didn't see Google's Leap Day doodle, here it is now because it's adorable:

Can we appreciate how cute Google is today?! 

Thank you for reading! Hope this cheered you up if you had a bad day or made you more cheerful if you had a good or neutral day.
See you next week,