As an aspiring novelist I’ve read a lot of books regarding novel-writing and memoirs on the craft of writing. It struck me the other day that bloggers could learn a lot from novelists despite being greatly different types of writing (in general). I’ve composed a list of five questions that a blogger should ask his or her self prior to publishing a blog entry. These points are all based on the advice many successful writers have recommended to me as a novel writer (through thier books).
Have you chosen the right title?
There are no laws in place to stop two novelists giving their novel the same title – it’s a bad idea to do so though. If I named my novel Crime and Punishment, for example, I could never hope it would be known as the Crime and Punishment as it would be competing with Dostoyevsky’s masterpiece. Similarly, although two bloggers can have posts with identical titles it is not a good idea.
Would I have written this blog even if I knew no one else would read it?
Any good writer will tell you they write not for the money or the admiration (in fact many good writers get neither) but they write because they have a desire to do so, a thirst that cannot be quenched. As a blogger, do you blog because you want to make a six-figure annual sum through Google AdSense? Or do you blog simply because you have to? Ironically, it’s the bloggers who never intended to make the money who earn a good living from it.
Can the blog entry be summed up in a single sentence?
In his book Writing a Novel and getting Published by Nigel Watts, Nigel says that the thesis (or main theme) of a novel should be “what the author is saying about the thread summed up in a single sentence”. In other words, if you can’t describe a work of writing in one sentence the message you are putting across may be too garbled or perplexing to the reader. If a novel can be summed up in once sentence then is it not reasonable to expect you can do the same for your blogs?
Can I make the blog any simpler / shorter?
A painful part of writing is when the novelist’s agent asks them to cut large chunks out of their novel (it’s not uncommon for a writer to remove a third of his / her book at their agent’s request). The agent (usually) knows best, however, because if a piece of writing can be expressed in less words it can have more of an impact. Can you make your blog entry any shorter without altering the message?
Have I written sufficent drafts of my blog entry?
A novelist will usually write a minimum of two to three drafts before passing it onto their agent. In the first draft the writer will write loosly and without creative limits; the second draft will rework the first draft into a more level and consistant piece of work; the third draft will polish it so it is suitable to pass on to the agent. Try this approach on your blogs for a more professional finish.