Janet Kobobel Grant
Publishers remain eager to connect with blog writers who have amassed faithful readers. Therefore, an agent’s interest in a potential client is piqued at the mention of a strong blog readership.
Because blogging can leapfrog a writer into a book contract, we agents look at a ton of proposals by such writers. One thing we regularly observe is how blog writing has ruined some potentially eloquent authors
Here are the ways I’ve observed this ruination
Most blog writers want to convey they really mean what they are saying! And what better–and easier–way to do that than by using lots of exclamation marks!?
Of course, after awhile, the surplus of exclamation marks leaves the reader weary of being exclaimed at. Used judiciously, exclamation marks do emphasize points you want to make or heighten the emotion the writer wants to convey. But a blog writer often becomes reliant on that punctuation mark rather than adequately communicating that emotion through words. When he or she writes a manuscript, the exclamation marks pop up in the place of strong writing.
Put your writing discourse on an exclamation diet. Your readers will thank you.
Blog writing results in word or phrase repetition to increase the SEO score
Maybe, like me, you were trained by your high school English teachers not to repeat words or phrases but to find several words to express a theme. The same word used twice in a paragraph showcased poor writing skills.
SEO pulls us in the opposite direction, teaching us to repeat key words or phrases in titles and throughout a blog.
This results in lackadaisical word choice when writing a manuscript. Our working vocabulary has been reduced to choices that SEO “approves” of rather than moving us to greater erudition. Reading letters average American citizens wrote in the 19th century reminds us how bereft we are of adequate words to express what we’re thinking and feeling. OMG and LOL turn lackluster in comparison.
I used to buy vocabulary-building flip calendars to begin each new year. But now I’m busy trying to keep up with the latest social media platform or new electronic device. My Fitbit does not make me a better writer, but a more extensive vocabulary certainly would.
Social media’s influence on writing
We’ve also learned to use “punctuation” developed for social media. This type of communication works with blog writing but for creating a manuscript…not so much.
Take, for example, our use of asterisks to indicate action. I could write on Facebook: “It’s bloomin’ spring; have you noticed? *sneezes loudly*”
That works, right?
But we remove ourselves from the art of writing when we use that same technique in creating our book manuscript. A 50,000-word manuscript fairly cries out for you spend enough time with your narrative scene to actually write it out rather than using this “shorthand” way of describing action. Let your writing be languid enough to put us in the moment.
The same goes for hashtags. Sure, it’s cute to write on Twitter “#World’sWorstMom” accompanied with a photo of your toddler’s face and clothes smeared with spaghetti sauce. But please ban this method of writing when you want to convey how you feel about your mommy skills in your manuscript. I can see a hashtag phrase as a book title, but not employed in the book’s copy.
Blog writing results in short snippets and thinking about brevity
Writing a blog teaches us to think about a subject in 300- to 800-word segments. When you’re writing a minimum of two blogs a week, you’re developing a rhythm. Then, when faced with a 2,500-word chapter–and 12 chapters of at least that length–you find yourself responding like a sprinter who has ended up in a marathon.
Let’s be realistic and accept that a blog cannot do what a book can. A book conveys the depth and layers of a subject; a blog hopes to leave us with one thought, maybe two. This also means that collecting your blogs into a downloadable book is not the same as actually writing a book. A blog-book skims over the surface of a topic like a cigar boat at top speed. A book manuscript sinks into the water like a submarine.
Call me out of step with the times; call me old-fashioned. But, also, please call me an appreciator of the fine art of writing.
In what ways do you see blog writing–or social media posts–ruining our ability to write well? In what ways do you think online writing helps us to communicate better?
How writers are ruined by blogging. Click to tweet.
Does blogging ruin writing skills? Click to tweet.