Revision, Part 1: An Early Fiction Checklist

My backpack-on-wheels travels everywhere with me. In it I schlep my old, heavy laptop, my iPad, if I stack them right quite a few books and my Kindle, at least one three-ring binder and my trusty pencil bag, which includes a highlighter, pencils, erasers and a pencil sharpener; different color pens, a mini-stapler, small post-its for note-taking, a flash drive, and paper clips. I'm ready to work, either electronically or on paper, at the drop of a #2 pencil.

Writing on the Run
Deep in the throes of revision while having to go on a recent short trip, I had to face that writing time would be hit or miss; normally squeezed in whenever there's a free moment. To really dig in, though, I wanted to take more than could possibly fit in my catch-all bag: a dictionary, my thesaurus, reference books, as-of-yet unread writing books, etc., etc. Knowing this was impossible, I took a break to think about what I could realistically get accomplished on the trip, sat back and read an article, "4 Tips for Writing Scenes," by Ingrid Sundberg, http://ingridsnotes.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/4-tips-for-writing-great-scenes/.

Sundberg's article changed everything. Maybe I couldn't have all my tools, but I was at a place in my story where a preliminary check would be helpful. After a cursory look at my WIP with Sundberg's advice in mind, I made a startling discovery. The drama and emotion I thought I'd poured into my draft--heart, gut, and soul--didn't have the impact I'd envisioned. An editor might even call my scenes downright flimsy! I chose three areas that Sundberg suggested need to be present in each scene and decided not to wait until the end of the entire draft to consider them, but to review them early in the draft and see what would happen.

Three Scene Booster Musts
I backtracked to Chapter One and evaluated each scene according to Three Scene Boosters suggested in Sundberg's post. In each scene, I isolated these three areas:
  • Significant Emotional Change: Does your character go through some sort of emotional change?
After a thorough scrubbing this is what my I came up with: In Chapter 1, my character is sleepy and bored after starting out in the wee hours of the morning on a long ride home from a camping trip. Her grandfather's VW Bug starts to pick up speed. She stiffens as his car careens down a narrow mountain road, faster and faster. She is thrown side to side clinging to her stuffed animal, her only comfort.  Her short life flashes before her, like the car's headlights that are sweeping ever faster past a thick forest of trees. These minutes--seconds--could be her last.
Revised emotional change: I needed to show a starker contrast between my character's boredom and fear.
  • Dramatic Action: What action does your character take to get out of the bind she finds herself in?
Her grandfather shouts, "Hold on!" She grabs the door handle. He taps the brake but the wind whistles even louder past her ear. She shouts, "Quick, do something!" He pulls up on the emergency brake--the skinny little lever next to her seat--and the little VW Bug shudders and shakes. Her palms are slippery but she hangs on, with only her stuffed animal for comfort.
Revised dramatic action: As the car picks up speed, I needed to show how frightened she is more clearly, which was to show how helpless she feels. 
  • Scene Summary: What is the main action in the scene? At the end of the scene go back and look at your character's main action(s).
Stuck in the car; realizing it's out of control flying down a narrow mountain road. All she can do is hang on to the door handle, her palms slick, her arms hurting from holding on so tight.
  • What is your character's main emotion(s)? Fearing for her life.
Though likely not my last run-through, these early scene boosters have strengthened my scenes by looking for my character's emotional change, how dramatic her action(s) is, and giving her the maximum emotional punch. This technique has helped make my scenes more exciting and dramatic. The bonus? This effort should save time later during the final editing stage. That will be when most of the polishing is complete and each run-through is to make sure all the other essential story elements are in place.

Just think, if another short trip comes along I won't have to take so many writing tools in my backpack. All I'll need is a pencil, eraser, colored pen, post-its, and extra paper. Oh, and a book to read in my spare time!

See if this plan works for you: In coming months more revision highlights will be explored to help narrow down important areas in your manuscript, one at a time.


 
Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, recently completed Joyce Sweeney's online fiction course. She has published over 40 articles for children and adults, six short stories for children, and is currently developing several works for children. Follow Linda on Facebook.




Gearing Up for September

Around here, September marks a fresh start. After 3 months of fun in the sun, it will feel good to get back into a routine. It's also a good time to review the year, reflect on successes, and make changes if necessary.




Here are some tips that will help you cross the finish line of meeting your goal(s) at the end of the year:
  • Work Space - Do you need to do some filing and organizing? Are there outdated post-it- notes stuck around your space? Is your chair comfortable? Do you have enough room? How is the lighting? I recently moved my desk to another part of the room and it really made a difference.
  • Supplies - School supplies are being sold everywhere at some really good prices. Now is the time to stock up! I like the composition notebooks (used come only in black and white) that now come in lots of colors. I use one for each project I'm doing. Every idea, deadline, contact, etc., goes in the color-designated notebook. I've found this works best for me instead of a file folder for current projects. 
  • Schedule - How is your writing schedule working? Are you taking ground? Even if it feels slow and steady, it counts! Are you trying to work in the morning, when you do your best at night? Have you been able to balance your personal life with your professional life? Take a good look at your writing routine. If you're not producing what you had planned, it's a good indication something needs to change. Don't be afraid to do it.
While practical tips are important for success, are you enjoying the journey? Are you pacing yourself so you don't miss the "little things"? Or are you sprinting to the finish line and the scenery has been a blur?

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Life is a journey, not a destination." Isn't it true we can be so focused on where we need to go that we are not enjoying how we're getting there? 

As summer ends and a new season begins, I hope you'll review your year thus far and be energized in the coming months. But mostly, I hope you're enjoying the process!


~~~
  After raising and homeschooling her 8 children and teaching art classes for 10 years, Kathy has found time to pursue freelance writing. She enjoys writing magazine articles and more recently had her story, "One of a Kind", published in The Kids' ArkYou can find her passion to bring encouragement and hope to people of all ages at When It Hurts http://kathleenmoulton.com



Refocusing after a Vacation from Writing


In my July post, I shared that I was going to give myself a writing vacation.  No writing blog posts, revising manuscripts or developing first drafts.  I have a lot of writing projects at different stages of development, but I was not anxious to work on any of them.   My writing time was going to be reallocated to summertime fun and travel.  I was going to give the written word a rest.

During my writing hiatus, I visited with friends, went to museums, read more and travelled.   I also spent way too many hours stuck in airports—travelling over 15,000 miles in the month. 

In an attempt at full disclosure, I have to admit that I did jot down some notes during the month.   As I traveled the country or roamed my hometown, I jotted down ideas, quotes, and books that piqued my interest.  These ideas may become seeds of a new project or tidbits added to a manuscript I need to finish.  Even my impatience with airport delays was somewhat alleviated by observing fellow travelers whose antics became scribbles in my notebook.
 
As writers, I think it is important to allow the space and time for new ideas to be sprinkled into one’s life.  When dealing with the pressures of deadlines or the struggles of revision an occasional writing vacation can help generate new ideas.

After a writing break, try the following tips to get back on track.
  1. Summarize any notes from the writing vacation and save them in a file
  2. Read your unfinished writing projects
  3. Assess the next step for each project
  4. Prioritize your writing projects
  5. Establish and track your writing goals.
  6. Try using a goal setting/tracking app.
This fall, I’ve decided to try lifetick, a new goal tracking app.  I let you know if it helps me re-focus and stay on track.



Mary Jo Guglielmo is writer and intuitive life coach. For more information check out:

http://facebook.com/DoNorth.biz  

Marketing as a Beginner


The shop of the bookdealer Pieter Meijer Warnars--Johannes  Jelgerhuis (1770-1836)
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

With a new fiction novella out in October, I have been brushing up on marketing techniques. As far as I can see, the only certainty is that there is no certainty. What proves successful for one author may not work for another.

My publisher has listed the need for Facebook and Twitter and I'll set up new accounts for my author persona. But social media is continually evolving and the new algorithms always tend to favor the website creators. FaceBook changes have made it more difficult to spread your news and views to all the friends on your list. And not all authors can afford or wish to afford paid ads.

In a new article suggesting how to stop wasting time with marketing, Tom Buford notes that 90% of his business comes from just two strategies: peer endorsement meaning recommendations from friends--this may perhaps include
affiliates?-- and using education based webinars to sell his products.

With a two step strategy in mind, I am considering slideshare and an infoproduct how-to course as a thankyou gift for purchasers of my book.

To work on my website, I'm following Tiffany Lambert's day by day blog--One Year in a New Niche.

Her blog may not be everyone's cup of tea but she's a great marketer and her openness and techniques are built for selling.

That said, here at Writers on the Move we have some of the best book marketers in the business. I have my copy of Carolyn Howard-Johnson's award-winning Frugal Editor and the Frugal Book Promoter  and a folder of helpful ebooks from Karen Cioffi-Ventrice.

Blogpost of the Month

This one has so much help and information that I'm still dipping into it weeks after publication.  Cynthia Lindeman writing for Boost Blog Traffic lists
101 Writing Resources That'll Take You from Stuck to Unstoppable. I don't know how unstoppable I shall be as I'm still having such fun with the list that I haven't quite got started.

* * * *

Next month I'll report back on my marketing plans and updates.

In the meantime, any help and advice in the comments below on which book promotion strategies  work best for you will be greatly appreciated. :-)




 Anne Duguid is a freelance content editor with MuseItUp Publishing and she passes on helpful writing,editing and publishing tips from time to time at Slow and Steady Writers 


Writing Games

Have you used any of the writing games that are sold by various retailers? I have one of them, The Storymatic®. There are three versions. I have the Classic edition. It’s made in the USA, by The Storymatic Corporation of Vermont and has been around for several years.

My writers group played with The Storymatic recently. The box is filled with cards of two different colors. One color is about characters, the other color is about situations. There are nine suggested games within The Storymatic to choose from, but you do not have to use any of them.

At our meeting we tried “Add to It.” Each person takes turns drawing cards and adding to the story that the first person started. You can go as long as you want. My group took turns telling a story about a couple out on a date. An engagement ring, a paramedic, an ambulance, a Chihuahua, a baby elephant, and a veterinarian hospital were involved. I have forgotten what else was thrown into the story. It was very funny! We were meeting in a public place, so our laughter generated some looks from other customers. We decided to play again sometime, but in the “safety and comfort” of a member’s home!

To generate new ideas and have some fun, I recommend The Storymatic. If you want to learn more about this game, two websites that contain additional information are http://thestorymatic.com/ and http://archive.wired.com/geekdad/2012/02/storymatic/. The latter site includes an interview with the man who created The Storymatic.

Have you tried a game to get new ideas or to break writers block? Please post about your experiences here.

Have fun playing and writing!

Debbie A. Byrne has a B.S. in Mass Communication with a minor in History. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is working on her first children’s book.

There's a Gorilla in the Phone Booth! - The dangers of flashbacks

by Shirley Corder

The fog was closing in. Marsha dashed across the road to the phone booth to call her husband to come and fetch her. With relief, she pulled open the stiff door and slipped inside. She peered towards the phone dial, and instead her eyes focused on a gigantic dark hairy chest. Fearfully she looked up, and up . . . until she made out the terrifying features of an adult gorilla. There was a gorilla in the phone booth! 

His immense mouth opened and she gazed in horror at his vicious-looking teeth. She was about to be devoured by a raging primate. It reminded her of the time when she and her husband had gone to see the film, “Gorillas in the Mist.” It was a beautiful evening, their first real date. They had sat and eaten popcorn and drank soda. When they ran out of popcorn, Robert slipped his hand across and gripped hers. The rest of the film was a blur. All she remembered was what happened on their walk home . . .

Okay, this is a variation of a common theme for writers. You’ve created an exciting scenario. A gorilla is a massive animal, renowned for its phenomenal strength. We can think of the well-known advert of King Kong as he rips apart the jaws of a T-Rex, or of him wreaking havoc in New York City. He is not a creature to tangle with. And he’s certainly not something you want to share a phone booth with.

Why did the author put the gorilla in the phone booth in the first place? Because it’s a tiny enclosure. There’s no way anyone can win a battle with a gorilla in a phone booth. The victim would be ripped apart in no time. The tension is unbearable. The reader holds his breath.

And then he’s transported to the cinema. On a trip down memory lane. What a letdown.

What was the writer thinking? He’s created a breathtaking scene, and then left the reader hanging while he explores another part of the heroine’s life. It’s called a flashback, but it’s a dangerous technique. If the author doesn’t want to lose his reader, a flashback has to be handled wisely.

For writers, the lesson is: Stay with the gorilla in the phone booth! The story needs to keep moving forward. The reader doesn’t want to know about the time at the cinema. He wants to know how Marsha is going to handle her ordeal in the phone booth.

There are times for flashbacks, but less is more. Think twice before you leave your reader stuck indefinitely in a phone booth with a gorilla. It's not a nice place to be.

OVER TO YOU: How do you feel about flashbacks when you're reading? Any authors that do them well? Do you use them in your own writing? Leave a comment below.

FURTHER READING: 

SHIRLEY CORDER lives on the coast in South Africa with her husband, Rob. Her book, Strength Renewed: Meditations for your Journey through Breast Cancer contains 90 meditations based on the time she faced a gorilla in the cancer valley.

Please visit Shirley through ShirleyCorder.com, where she encourages writers, or at  RiseAndSoar.com, where she encourages those in the cancer valley. You can also meet with her on Twitter or FaceBook

Two Things You Must Do if You Want to Make Money Blogging

by Suzanne Lieurance, the Working Writer's Coach


Whether you’re a full time freelance writer or a published author, you probably have at least one blog (or you should have anyway).

You probably have a mailing list, too (or you should have).

But you may not realize how your mailing list affects your blog traffic.
In his e-book, List Building for Bloggers, Phil Hollows includes a short note from Internet guru, Seth Godin. In this note, Godin says "I get ten times more response to my blog from my email subscribers than I do from anyone else."

That just shows how powerful a mailing list can be. It can drive traffic to your blog.

But here's the rub. It's good to have visitors to your blog and people on your mailing list, but in order to make money from your blog, there are two things you need to do: optimize and monetize.

What does that mean?

It means that each and every blog post has a clear call to action for your readers.

It means that most of your blog posts include your affiliate links to relevant products and/or services.

It means each blog post is keyword rich, with the exact keywords people are using to search for the kind of information you're providing in those posts.

It also means your blog content is aimed at your target market, and this is where so many bloggers miss the mark. They either don't have a specific target market in mind or, if they do, their content isn't directed at this target market.

Today, instead of creating new content for your blog, go back to some of the archived content. Make sure it is optimized (keyword rich for starters) and monetized (includes links to affiliate products or at least some clear call to action). Also, be sure the content is directed toward the specific target market you are trying to attract to your blog.

Once you've monetized and optimized your site, you'll be ready to grow your email subscribers - those people who will be most responsive to your blog and purchase the products and services you blog about.

Try it!

Suzanne Lieurance is an author, freelance writer, certified professional life coach and writing coach, speaker and workshop presenter. She has written over two dozen published books and hundreds of articles for newspapers, magazines, and other publications.

For more ways to make money from your blog, download The Freelance Writer's Guide to Affiliate Marketing by Suzanne Lieurance.

A Blank Canvas - Your Characters


The last couple of months have been spent packing and moving from our 'retirement home' in Phoenix to our new 'retirement home' in Minnesota. I'm well aware that's not usually the direction one goes to retire. My parents had left me a home and my husband and I decided that for the next however many years we have, we are going to spend them in the Midwest enjoying a slower pace. 

Moving into one's family home is a bit of a challenge. I remember well how my mother had arranged furniture and art. Each day more memories crop up and distract me. But each day, too, I'm working on creating a new and different home, one that reflects the people my husband and I are. Part of the decisions we've already made are to paint, carpet and change all the window coverings. Think blank canvas. 

A blank canvas allows you to find your own place in the world. 
A blank canvas encourages exploration. 
A blank canvas drives one to a new level of creativity. 

And a blank canvas might be the best place to begin when writing your newest character(s). Part of the enjoyment of writing fiction is the unknowingness of the process. You begin with a character or a scene, or maybe only a setting. Somewhere down the road you may know where you want to eventually end - the statement you wish to make with your story. But everything in between is yours and your characters to create. Allowing your mind to be open to your character's possible reactions and thoughts is one great way to keep your readers engaged. Readers like surprises - and if you are like me - you do as well. Creating characters that, well, act out of character is fun. And just like the blank canvas above, it will drive you to a greater level of creativity, it will push you to explore your options and finally, it will help you to create characters that will find their own place in the world of literature. 
________________________________________
D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and a co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, House of Glass, Book 2 of The Exodus Series was written with coauthor, Austine Etcheverry.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole and, Perception. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at www.djeanquarles.com

You can also follower her at www.djeanquarles.blogspot.com or on Facebook

Where do Characters Come From?



Where do you get your characters? They can come from many sources. Characters can be based on someone you know or a composite of people you know. You write from your experience. You might base a character on a name you’ve picked out or someone you’ve read about in the newspaper. Or you decide on a theme or a situation you want to write about and then decide what kind of characters would fit into that idea.

How do you introduce your characters?

Here’s a great four-sentence exercise:
1.      Introduce a character (age, sex).
2.      Bring character home to dwelling place
3.      Greet someone in the home, tell something about the mood of the character.
4.      Move character out of room (off camera).

You’ll be surprised how much you will learn about your character from such a short exercise! Start out each character like this to find out about him/her. Fill in the information and find the emotional connection.

Some writers like to create an entire character profile even before they start writing. I don’t necessarily recommend that, although some people need a skeleton to flesh out before they can start writing. It’s probably a good idea to at least fill one out as you write (especially if you’re writing a book) just to keep the facts straight. You don’t want your hero to have blue eyes in chapter one and turn up with brown eyes in chapter 20. And you want him to act and re-act consistent with his personality as you write. Or fill in a character sketch if you have a character that seems flat and needs fleshing out.
How do you come up with your characters?

A native Montanan, Heidi M. Thomas now lives in North-central Arizona where she blogs, teaches
writing, and edits. Her first novel, Cowgirl Dreamsis based on her grandmother, and the sequel, Follow the Dream, won the national WILLA Award. The next book in the series, Dare to Dream, has just been released, and her non-fiction book Cowgirl Up: History of Women's Rodeo will be out in September. Heidi has a degree in journalism and a certificate in fiction writing.

Your Main Character's Job Is to Fall to the Bottom of a Deep Pit of TROUBLE


“Your Main Character's Job Is to Fall to the Bottom of a Deep Pit of TROUBLE" by Joan Y. Edwards

When you write your story, is your main character doing his job? You say to me, "What do you mean?" In every story, the main character's job is to fall to the bottom of a deep pit of TROUBLE. He can't go back to what was. He can't get to what he wants. He is clueless and helpless until he CHANGES.

What does the main character do while he's down there? Let's name your main character. What about Jeremy Kidd?
  • He's a 16 year old junior in high school whose parents are moving to New York City and he refuses to go.
  • He's an 81-year-old man whose daughter wants him to go to a rest home and he refuses to go.
  • He's a six-year-old boy whose father tells him he has to play t-ball when he wants to play football.
Suppose your main character is female. Let's call her Sadie Tripp.
  • Sadie is a seventeen year old senior whose parents died in a car wreck three months before graduation. She refuses to go to school because she is so depressed.
  • She's 74 and wants to open her own ice cream parlor and her children try to stop her.
  • She's 5 years old and her parents won't let her have a puppy.

For now your main character's figuring out ways to get out of this pit. Does he spin a web like Spiderman? Fly with a cape like Superman? Crawl around on the floor with a magnifying glass looking for clues like Sherlock Holmes? No, none of those. They've all been done before. Do something different. Put a twist on it.

What does your main character do that causes him to land at the bottom of the pit? Was it pride that he didn’t listen to the wisdom of others in the same position? Was he stubborn and refuse to obey the authority figures? Did he get so angry that he literally drove a car, lost control and landed in a pit? Was it plain stupidity that he didn’t even look where he was going? What does he see? What does he sense? What sounds does he hear? What does his body do? Why does he think this is the end of the world for him?

The pit is dark and deep with no light showing the way out. Your main character is going to have to climb up and feel his way, inch by inch from the bottom all the way to the top. What will he do when he has no hammer and metal spikes to assist him in climbing out? Your main character seems to get himself into predicaments easily and often, but never as bad as this.


As the author, you might hesitate about putting your character into a tough predicament. I am here to tell you to relax. Each character you create is clever and resourceful. He will figure out a fascinating way to get out of this pit in a short amount of time. Why? Because you are the author. You and your main character can do what no one else has ever done before. You are the only ones who can give us your interpretation of this world. We are waiting to hear about how your character survived his "big pit" experience. How does he change? What does he believe now that he didn't believe before? What new skill did he learn? Who did he learn to trust? Don't worry about your character. He can climb out of any deep dark pit you put him into. Believe in you and your characters. You can do it.

It would be great to see how you would write a paragraph or a first page of a story using one of the character descriptions above or your own. Please share your paragraph or first page in the comment area. I'd love to read them. I'll point out a Blue Ribbon Passage - one I especially like in it, if you do.


Celebrate you.
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards


Flip Flap Floodle, the Never Give Up duck - He keeps playing his song even in the darkest pit of ole Mr. Fox's belly.

Joan’s Elder Care Guide, Release December 2014 by 4RV Publishing

For other articles to inspire you and your writing, read Joan's Never Give Up Blog

**********************************************








Avoiding Common Punctuation Errors Part 3: Commas in Participial Phrases

Commas with Participial Phrases

Good writing is about more than grammar and punctuation.  It's about great characters, difficult decisions, high stakes, and insight into the human condition.  But...it's also about good grammar and punctuation.  Sometimes, important marks gets omitted, like the poor little comma in the illustration here.  Perhaps the omission is in the effort to make writing smoother.  Unfortunately, it often has the opposite effect.  Here's one type of common omission..   

When you have an independent clause (“Nathan stumbled along in front of the guard”), followed by a dependent clause starting with an "–ing" verb (“looking for ways to escape”), ask yourself whether you can stick who was/that was in the middle.  Does it still make sense? 

Example 1:
Test:  Nathan shuffled along in front of the guard WHO WAS looking for ways to escape.  Um…the guard was looking for ways to escape?  No, Nathan was looking for ways to escape.  You therefore need a comma in the middle to indicate that the subject of the first clause is also the one doing the second clause. 

Correct:  Nathan shuffled along in front of the guard, looking for ways to escape.
Incorrect:  Nathan shuffled along in front of the guard looking for ways to escape.

Example 2:  I sat on the sofa sagging in the corner.
Test:  I sat on the sofa THAT WAS sagging in the corner.  Makes sense.  No comma.

Example 3:  I sat on the sofa massaging my ankle.
Test:  I sat on the sofa THAT WAS massaging my ankle.  Cool sofa!  I want one.  But really, that’s not what you meant at all. The sofa wasn't massaging your ankle.  You were.  So you need the commas before the –ing.

Correct:  I sat on the sofa, massaging my ankle.

Example 4: “Come pick me up,” Sarah demanded through the phone looking in horror at the fire.
Test:  “Come pick me up,” Sarah demanded through the phone THAT WAS looking in horror at the fire.  Hmm…that's a really smart phone.

Correct:  “Come pick me up,” Sarah demanded through the phone, looking in horror at the fire.

Use the "THAT WAS" test: 
If you can stick that was in the middle and it still makes sense, no comma.
If you stick in that was and it changes the meaning, put a comma between the clauses.

Note:  It works in other situations too.  Other adjective or participial phrases modifying a subject earlier in the sentence have this same comma pattern.

Example 6:  She continued pushing dirt down around the seedlings oblivious to the threat at her front gate. 
Test:  Liz continued pushing dirt down around the seedlings WHO WERE oblivious to the threat at her front gate.  Technically, the plants were oblivious, but you probably mean that Liz was oblivious.

Correct:  Liz continued pushing dirt down around the seedlings, oblivious to the threat at her front gate.  

Often this mistake just requires that your reader pause a moment and re-evaluate, but sometimes it leads to mass confusion.  "John walked up to the man kissing the belly dancer."  Obviously the man was kissing the belly dancer.  If you meant that John was kissing the belly dancer, your readers aren't going to understand, so put in the comma.

NOTE:  If you're a person who doesn't use any commas unless absolutely necessary, you can sometimes omit this comma.  However, if there's any possibility that your reader will misunderstand, it's best to follow the rule and include it.   

Want more punctuation tips?  
Avoiding Incorrect Punctuation Pt 1:  Commas Save Lives; the Vocative Comma
Avoiding Incorrect Punctuation Pt 2:  Commas and Periods in Dialogue

Melinda Brasher writes mainstream short stories, science fiction, fantasy, and travel articles.  To find her work online, in print, or as e-books, explore her website:  melindabrasher.com

Blogging – The 5 Most Popular Blog Post and Article Formats

By Karen Cioffi

It’s a content marketing fact: Blogging is one of the most effective authority building, persuasive, and money-making marketing strategies.

This being the case, it means you need to regularly post content to your blog. It may be multiple times a day, once a day, three-times a week, once a week, or once a month.

No matter what, you need to post to your blog on a regular basis. While I did put ‘once a month’ in the list, to blog effectively you should be blogging more than that. Conservatively speaking, once a week is the minimum.

But, suppose you’re motivated and want to post to your blog three or more times a week. What do you write about? What blog formats can you use? How do you keep it up?

The 5 Most Popular Blog Post Formats

To make life easier, there are certain blog post formats or templates that you can use. Kind of like a fill in the blanks template. These templates will give you quick to follow guidelines and make the writing process quicker and easier. So, let’s get to it. Here are the five most popular blog post formats:

1. The How-to Blog Post

The how-to post is about providing instructions or steps to explain to the reader how to do something and people love them. The post should answer your readers’ question or provide the solution to his problem. In other words, as with all your posts, it should be informative and helpful.

The writing process is standard: address the target audience and note the problem (the introduction); give the solution (this is the body of your post), give the conclusion.

Aside from your post title, the introduction is where you will turn your readers’ attention to interest. This section will motivate the reader to read on.

2. The List-based Blog Post

The list-based format is simply providing a list of things. It may be “10 Steps to a Lighter You”. It may be “5 of the Most Important Opt-in Words There Are.” You get the idea. Choice your topic, create your title, and list the advice or tips.

This post format is another one that people love. It’s easy to read and easy to follow. And, if you scan the articles you read, like me, it’s easy to pick out the information pertinent to you.

When writing in the list-based format strive for organization, sequencing, clarity, and use bullet points or numbered sequencing. Make sure that each step flows into the next logically. You always want to keep it simple for the reader.

Tip: Bullet points should be used when the information within each point has little text. Numbered paragraphs should be used when the points have more text. This article is an example of the need for numbered paragraphs.

3. The Content Curation Blog Post

Before we get into the format, let’s go over what content curation is. In simple terms, it’s using someone else’s content on your site by linking to it. You lead into the source content with your own perspective and ideas. Then add text leading the reader to the original source. You might use: ‘To read more about this, go to . . .’ Or, you might use: To read the original article, go to . . .

The idea is to link to the source article through a ‘more reading’ setup.

The benefit to you is saving time. You don’t have to write a full post, yet you get fresh content that will be helpful to your readers. The fresh content and fresh viewpoint helps increase your authority and helps build you into the ‘go to person’ for your niche.

You do though need to make sure the content is relevant to your site and it’d be a good idea if you leave a comment on the original article’s post.

Another benefit to this blog format is trackbacking. Linking to the original source’s post will bring the attention of the source site to your site. 

4. The Newsjacking Blog Post

The newsjacking blog post format is about making use of headline news within your industry/niche. This type of post is usually timely. It’s very useful if you want to be the one to bring breaking news to your audience.

Another way to use newsjacking is to create an in-depth analysis of the breaking news or simply give your perspective, after the fact. Just be careful not to plagiarize the content. You can reference the news content, but be sure to make the post content your own

You can also use newsjacking with the curation format.

5. The Slideshare or Video Blog Post

This format takes advantage of visual (and audio) content, in place of all text.  This format helps break things up a bit. People love visuals. Adding videos or Slideshare presentations spices your blog up.

Along with adding variety, the visual posts allow you to actually demonstrate tricky topics. For example, when explaining how to use hyperlinks or deep links, it’s much easier for the reader to SEE how to do it, rather than read about it.

Just like the other formats, you do need an introduction explaining the problem and how you can help fix it. Then lead into the video or Slideshare presentation with something like: ‘Watch the video to see how it’s done.’ Or, use ‘Flip through the Slideshare I created to demonstrate just how to do it.’

Here’s an example of a Slideshare post:

Article Marketing – Optimize Your Blogger Blog Posts

Summing it All Up
Blogging is a must if you want to create and increase visibility, readership, leads, and sales. But, simply blogging isn’t enough, you need to know how to blog effectively. Using these five blogging formats will help you keep your blog posts fresh and keep your audience engaged and informed.

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Original article source: http://www.karencioffiwritingandmarketing.com/2014/03/blogging-5-most-popular-blog-post-and.html

Karen Cioffi is an Online Platform and Website Optimization Instructor. You can check out her services at: Build an Online Platform That Works

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I hope you found this information interesting and helpful. Too advanced, not enough, just right? I’d really love to know, so please leave a comment – good or bad.

P.S. If you liked this article, PLEASE SHARE IT!

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