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20 Tips to Crafting a Brilliant Blog Piece: Part 2

You can read the first 10 tips here.

#11. “Simplify, simplify, …”

“Simplify, simplify. Thoreau said it, as we are so often reminded, and no American writer more consistently practiced what he preached. Open Walden on any page and you will find a man saying in a plain and orderly way what is on his mind.”  

As mentioned in #3, write as plainly as possible. Minus all jargon, that is. “Clutter is the disease of American writing” says Zinsser.  Get over it as quickly as possible, if you really want to make a career out of writing.

Key takeaway: Use plain and simple English, especially when you are writing web copy.

20 Tips to Crafting a Brilliant Blog Piece: Part 2

#12. “If you want to write long sentences …”  

“If you want to write long sentences, be a genius. Or at least make sure that the sentence is under control from beginning to end, in syntax and punctuation, so that the reader knows where he is at every step of the winding trail.”

For some, long words, long sentences, and long paragraphs define their writing process. Turns out, you are allowed to write in longer sentence forms as long as you get them right.

But then, getting them right is not an easy thing because chances of punctuation and syntax errors are a lot more common in longer sentences than shorter ones.

Key takeaway:  Choose short words, short sentences and short paragraphs over long words, long sentences and long paragraphs.

#13. “Your only contest is with yourself.”  

“I ‘ve often found that the hares who write for the paper are overtaken by the tortoises who move studiously toward the goal of mastering the craft. The same fear hobbles freelance writers, who see the work of other writers appearing in magazines while their own keeps returning in the mail. Forget the competition and go at your own pace. Your only contest is with yourself.”

Mozart was a master musician. Thanks to his father, by the age of four he started playing musical instruments. By five, he he was adept at playing complicated pieces. By seven, he started travelling along with his father and sister for concerts.

Now, we cannot compare an ordinary child with musical inclination, with young Mozart’s genuineness. The ordinary child has to put in the required years and hours, just like Mozart did. So, initially his competition would be with himself. If he starts comparing his works with others, he will only get disappointed.

Same thing applies to writers as well. Your contest is with yourself. You have to go through the grind before you could gain mastery and make a mark for yourself in your chosen niche.

Key takeaway: Practice, Practice and Practice reading and writing. Strengthen your reading and writing muscles first. Comparisons can wait.    

#14. “Always start with too much material …”

“Always start with too much material. Then give your reader just enough.”  

Research enough and more and then present only those facts that could likely impress your readers. Presenting anything and everything, so as to justify your research work, may simply bore the reader.  It’s because your post would resemble yet another run-of-the-mill, recycled stuff.

The only way to get your post more eyeballs and shares is to stick to those things that make your post unique. Then leave out the rest. If possible, add some interesting anecdotes and case studies to add more depth to your post.

Key takeaway: Choose the best out of the rest.

#15. “You will be nervous when you go forth into unfamiliar terrain …” 

“As a non fiction writer you will be thrown again and again into specialized worlds, and you will worry that you are not qualified to bring the story back. I feel that anxiety every time I embark on a new project. Remember this when you enter a new territory and need a shot of confidence. Your best credential is yourself. “

As a technical writer, I always felt unqualified for my job, because I’ve no engineering back ground per se. But then, William Zinsser says, even in the case of technical copies, sounding right is more important that coming up with copies riddled with technical jargon.

Focus on short words, short sentences and short paras if you want your technical copies to be widely read. Too many technical jargon might put off your non technical audience.

Key takeaway: Give your best shot when you are writing about things that you are not much aware of.

#16. “Push the boundaries of your subject …” 

“Push the boundaries of your subject and see where it takes you. Bring some part of your own life to it; it’s not your version of the story until you write it.”

No matter how many times the story has been done and how many people have done it, do it as if you are the first and only one to witness it. Add your thoughts and color to it. Make it your version of the story. Nope, it won’t look like a rehashed stuff provided you have added your own spin to the copy.

Key takeaway: Every topic is worth writing about, if it’s written one thousand times. The only thing that you need to keep in mind is to add your own 2 cents to the copy. Give it a unique spin.

#17. “The relationship between the editor and the reader …” 

“The relationship between the editor and the reader should be negotiation and trust. Frequently an editor will make a change to clarify a muddy sentence and will inadvertently lose an important point – a fact or nuance that the writer included for reasons the editor didn’t know about. In such cases the writer should ask to have his point back. The editor, if he agrees, should oblige. But he should also insist on his right to fix whatever had been unclear.”

Editors are writer’s natural enemy, says George RR Martin of Game of Thrones fame.

I don’t know what it’s like in the blogging world, but in the newspaper settings, I have seen senior writers losing their cool over sub-editors because they dared to make changes in the copy.

But then, editors are required enemies.  Don’t you think so?  As Toni Morrison rightly says, “Part of the business of editing is telling people to shut up.” And authors do tend to create all sorts of crap that needs to get edited or else the online world would resemble a junkyard.

Key takeaway:  Help the editor do his job. If possible, the writer and the editor should come together to fix any problem that may cause confusion in the reader’s mind.  

#18. “When I tell aspiring writers that they should think of themselves as part entertainer …” 

“When I tell aspiring writers that they should think of themselves as part entertainer, they don’t like to hear it – the word smacks of carnivals and jugglers and clowns.  But to succeed you need to make your piece jump out of a newspaper or a magazine by being more diverting than anyone else’s piece. You must find some way to elevate your act of writing into an entertainment.”  

A prose should have preciseness and panache both, says Constance Hale says in her book “Sin and Syntax.” Grammar and all is fine. But if your copy fails to charm your readers, then all you’re Grammar rigidness counts for nothing.  Build a fan following by writing entertaining pieces.  Almost 2 million blog posts flood the online space every day.  And the only way to make your piece to stand out is to come up with a piece that not only educational in nature but entertaining too.

Key takeaway: Humor hooks the reader, regardless of the subject you are dealing with.

#19. “ Keep your paragraphs short …”

“Keep your paragraphs short. Writing is visual – it catches the eye before it has a chance to catch the brain. Short paragraphs put air around what you write and make it look inviting, whereas a long chunk of type can discourage a reader from even starting out.”

Neil Patel is known for coming up with bite-sized paras.  His paras are one-line-long. That’s the new gold standard in paragraph writing.  Anything long, and be assured, the readers won’t stay long.

Key takeaway: Keep your paras short and sweet. Coming up with scanable stuff is the order of the day.

#20. “Surprisingly often a difficult problem in a sentence can be solved by simply getting rid of it.”

“Surprisingly often a difficult problem in a sentence can be solved by simply getting rid of it. Unfortunately, this solution is usually the last one that occurs to writers in a jam.”   

Why bog your brains trying to get that sentence right, when all that you need to do is to remove that glitch that’s causing so much of a hassle in the first place. Yes, simply delete the problematic word or phrase that’s not sounding right, rather than spending countless hours trying to write it right.

Key takeaway: Chuck out that part that doesn’t seem to fit-in. Even if you do your best to fit-in, it would appear to be a misfit, eventually.

Conclusion:

There you go! Hope you have gone through all the 20 tips, which could help you sharpen your blog pieces. The book has got many other tips as well that could help strengthen your piece. Read it a couple of times, to say the least, to get a better hang on your writing skills.


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Jini Maxin blogs for OpenXcell – an app development company with 7 years and 700 apps to its credit. A crazy geek, a pseudo tech lover, an insane-wimpy mom, and last but far from least, a die-hard bibliophile, who intends to turn over, no fewer than 1000 books, before hammering out her first-class novel. She has been blogging for the tech world for at least 8 years now, after experimenting with the newspaper and advertising medium. If you are interested in reading her, you could check out her blog posts on www.openxcell.com. http://www.openxcell.com

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