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Blog Post to Essay at BlogHer '13
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Blog Post to Essay at BlogHer '13

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Blog Post to Essay at BlogHer '13

Blog Post to Essay at BlogHer '13


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  • 1. Turning Blog Posts into Published Essays
  • 2. #BH13Essay INTERNET SSID: BlogHer | No Password Required Turning Blog Posts into Published Essays RITA ARENS BlogHer.com, @ritaarens INSTRUCTOR
  • 3. #BH13Essay INTERNET SSID: BlogHer | No Password Required Before You Write Anything: Define Success for You • Featured on a national media website (ex: BlogHer) • National magazine/newspaper essay • Local newspaper op ed/magazine essay • Anthology essay • Viral online • Writing something you know is good/peer respect  START HERE
  • 4. #BH13Essay INTERNET SSID: BlogHer | No Password Required Before You Start, Know You’re Going to Have to Revise Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something – anything – down on paper. A friend of mine says that the first draft is the down draft – you just get it down. The second draft is the up draft – you fix it up. You try to say what you have to say more accurately. And the third draft is the dental draft, where you check every tooth, to see if it’s loose or cramped or decayed or even, God help us, healthy.― – Anne Lamott
  • 5. #BH13Essay INTERNET SSID: BlogHer | No Password Required The First Draft • You’re not creating the sculpture, you’re making the clay. • Don’t focus on making the first draft good, just get it out. • Let it sit before you go back to revise.
  • 6. #BH13Essay INTERNET SSID: BlogHer | No Password Required Get Personal Why do you care about this topic? ―… part of our trust in good personal essayists issues, paradoxically, from their exposure of their own betrayals, uncertainties, and self- mistrust.‖ -- Phillip Lopate, ―The art of the personal essay‖
  • 7. #BH13Essay INTERNET SSID: BlogHer | No Password Required You Can Take It Too Far Don’t overshare for its own sake: • You also need to bring greater meaning to your own story, a larger point that will make it interesting to people who don't know you. • Don't confuse being confessional or exhibitionistic with being a good essayist; good essayists make the personal universal and meaningful.
  • 8. #BH13Essay INTERNET SSID: BlogHer | No Password Required The Hook Begin at the beginning: With a point of conflict, desire, change, crisis or questioning for the author • Get rid of the ―verbal throat clearing‖ Draw us in from the opening line: • Anecdote or an image • Dialogue or a direct quote • Create a scene
  • 9. #BH13Essay INTERNET SSID: BlogHer | No Password Required Possible Opening Hooks • Anecdote or incident • Background • Character sketch • Conflict (explicit or implicit) • Puzzle/question • Gripping metaphor or image • Provocative statement • Paint a word picture • Promise of benefits to the reader • Startling fact • Well-known quotation or maxim (turned on its head)
  • 10. #BH13Essay INTERNET SSID: BlogHer | No Password Required You Need to Have a Thesis to Make a Point • Otherwise, it’s not an essay • Not just for academic papers! • Shows what this piece of writing will be about • Connects introduction to the other anecdotes to come • Will be what the conclusion addresses
  • 11. #BH13Essay INTERNET SSID: BlogHer | No Password Required Separating the Merely Entertaining from the Essay • Does the author give the necessary background context the reader will need to make sense of the story? • Does this information come soon enough that we are not confused or frustrated? • Is there too much background information — does background threaten to overwhelm the main story?
  • 12. #BH13Essay INTERNET SSID: BlogHer | No Password Required How to End • Whatever comes up in your introduction and your thesis should be addressed in the conclusion • Does the conclusion actually conclude or resolve the writer’s goal? • Is it clear that the writer has explored the topic thoroughly and discovered something or somehow changed in the process? • Does the conclusion relate to issues and images raised in the introduction and throughout? • Does the conclusion resist the urge to tidy things up nicely?
  • 13. #BH13Essay INTERNET SSID: BlogHer | No Password Required What Kills a Stand-Alone Essay • Carryover from the post the day before tacked on the beginning or end • Mention of bloggy names of characters with no explanation • Verbal throat-clearing • Length • Lack of focus/loose angle • Burying the lede
  • 14. #BH13Essay INTERNET SSID: BlogHer | No Password Required What to Look for in Structural Revisions How honestly and thoroughly do you explore the tension? • Do you explore/allow for the points that are different than yours? • Do you gloss over the difficult parts? • Or do you write them, even if they don’t present you in the best possible light? • Do you simply complain, or do you try to find deeper meaning?
  • 15. #BH13Essay INTERNET SSID: BlogHer | No Password Required What to Look for in Structural Revisions ―Write an I.O.U. to your soul to capture something that only you could have noticed about a story.‖ —Robert Krulwich, NPR
  • 16. #BH13Essay INTERNET SSID: BlogHer | No Password Required What to Look for in Editorial Revisions • Look through your draft for hints that you are backing off (―I don’t know why‖; ―that’s just the way things are … ‖) • Take your emotional temperature as you read • Don’t let outward intimacy masquerade as honesty (sex, confessional, nudity, etc.) • Watch for passive language
  • 17. #BH13Essay INTERNET SSID: BlogHer | No Password Required What to Look for in Editorial Revisions • Eliminate ―to be‖ • Watch for ―I felt, I thought‖ • Watch for adverbs – use better verbs • Replace some instances of ―s/he said‖ and ―s/he told me,‖ with the actual dialogue.
  • 18. #BH13Essay INTERNET SSID: BlogHer | No Password Required What to Look for in Editorial Revisions • Cut every sentence that doesn’t relate to your thesis in some way. • Cut every word that doesn’t need to be in the sentence to convey the meaning.
  • 19. #BH13Essay INTERNET SSID: BlogHer | No Password Required Just Delete These • On the basis of • To a large extent • In the neighborhood of • For the reason that • Subject to • Along the lines of • For the purpose of • At this point in time • With respect to • With a view to • In the event that • In terms of • On the grounds of • Provided that • In accordance with • To conclude • On a daily basis
  • 20. #BH13Essay INTERNET SSID: BlogHer | No Password Required Turning Blog Posts into Published Essays RITA ARENS BlogHer.com, @ritaarens INSTRUCTOR
  • 21. ―BlogHer is a snake meal of ideas in a wonton wrapper of love. Afterwards you need a 2- day nap, then it nourishes you for a year.‖ – @debontherocks