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BlogHer '12: Turning Your Blog into Publishable Essays
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BlogHer '12: Turning Your Blog into Publishable Essays


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Turning Your Blog into Publishable Essays at BlogHer '12

Turning Your Blog into Publishable Essays at BlogHer '12

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  • 1. From Blog Post to Published EssayPowerpoint author: Susan Goldberg / @mamanongrataAdditional input from:• Jennifer Armstrong / @sexyfeminist• Rita Arens /@ritaarens Session hashtag: #BH12Post2Essay: Conference hashtag: #BlogHer12:
  • 2. ―Good writing isn’t written – it’s rewritten.‖ – Ralph Milton founder of Wood Lake Books Session hashtag: #BH12Post2Essay: Conference hashtag: #BlogHer12:
  • 3. What anthology editors arelooking forIndividual essays• Good writing• Compelling stories• Diversity• Breadth of experience• Big namesOverall• A collection of pieces that work well together Session hashtag: #BH12Post2Essay: Conference hashtag: #BlogHer12:
  • 4. Find and mime your niche• If you have no specific ―niche,‖ your writing may have to work harder.• Read the call carefully and submit in the correct format • Query if you’re uncertain! Session hashtag: #BH12Post2Essay: Conference hashtag: #BlogHer12:
  • 5. Tips (continued)• Go as personal and juicy as you can.• ―… 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‖ Session hashtag: #BH12Post2Essay: Conference hashtag: #BlogHer12:
  • 6. But …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 dont know you. • Dont confuse being confessional or exhibitionistic with being a good essayist; good essayists make the personal universal and meaningful. Session hashtag: #BH12Post2Essay: Conference hashtag: #BlogHer12:
  • 7. (Continued) • Choose details wisely; be aware of the larger point youre making, and stay focused on it throughout the piece. Session hashtag: #BH12Post2Essay: Conference hashtag: #BlogHer12:
  • 8. Don’t confuse free writing withyour final draft."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. Is 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 Session hashtag: #BH12Post2Essay: Conference hashtag: #BlogHer12:
  • 9. The “pre/-down” draft• For your eyes only. Hint: Write it in longhand, on paper.• Brain dump: Anecdotes, memories, insights, ideas• ―Anecdote map‖: Most good essay writing is a sequence of anecdotes that relate to a larger theme -- write these down in detail. Session hashtag: #BH12Post2Essay: Conference hashtag: #BlogHer12:
  • 10. StructureIntroduction/lead (lede) • [reflection]• Thesis• Anecdote/reflection [X 2, 3, 4…]• Ending Session hashtag: #BH12Post2Essay: Conference hashtag: #BlogHer12:
  • 11. First things first: the introduction• 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 Session hashtag: #BH12Post2Essay: Conference hashtag: #BlogHer12:
  • 12. Possible hooks• Anecdote or incident • Provocative statement• Background • Paint a word picture• Character sketch • Promise of benefits to the reader• Conflict (explicit or implicit) • Startling fact• Puzzle/question • Well-known quotation or• Gripping metaphor or image maxim (turned on its head) Session hashtag: #BH12Post2Essay: Conference hashtag: #BlogHer12:
  • 13. Thesis: 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 Session hashtag: #BH12Post2Essay: Conference hashtag: #BlogHer12:
  • 14. In between …• Layers of anecdote/reflection• Building toward conclusion• Moving into deeper emotional territory Session hashtag: #BH12Post2Essay: Conference hashtag: #BlogHer12:
  • 15. Context/reflection/analysis• 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? Session hashtag: #BH12Post2Essay: Conference hashtag: #BlogHer12:
  • 16. Conclusion• 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? Session hashtag: #BH12Post2Essay: Conference hashtag: #BlogHer12:
  • 17. Conclusion techniques• A vividly drawn scene• A memorable anecdote that clarifies the main point of the story• Telling detail that symbolizes something larger than itself or suggests how the story might move forward into the future• Direct address to the reader where the writer says, ―this is my point‖• Ominous glimpse into the future Session hashtag: #BH12Post2Essay: Conference hashtag: #BlogHer12:
  • 18. Style• What’s at stake?• Honesty and reflection• Show, don’t tell • Active versus passive language • Specificity, detail• Language considerations • Shorter sentences/clearer language • Sentence and paragraph variation Session hashtag: #BH12Post2Essay: Conference hashtag: #BlogHer12:
  • 19. What’s at stake?• You need tension or conflict: unresolved desire• What is it? • Look back to your thesis Session hashtag: #BH12Post2Essay: Conference hashtag: #BlogHer12:
  • 20. Honesty/reflection• 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? Session hashtag: #BH12Post2Essay: Conference hashtag: #BlogHer12:
  • 21. Tips: honesty/reflection• 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 Session hashtag: #BH12Post2Essay: Conference hashtag: #BlogHer12:
  • 22. Show, don’t tell• Eliminate ―to be‖• Watch for ―I felt, I thought‖• Watch for adverbs• Use dialogue Session hashtag: #BH12Post2Essay: Conference hashtag: #BlogHer12:
  • 23. Eliminate “to be”• I am/was, you are/were, s/he is/was, etc.• Instead of: • I was nervous … ―I felt like I was riding in a car with all the doors open.‖ • I was embarrassed … ―I turned red.‖ • I was angry … • I was hungry… Session hashtag: #BH12Post2Essay: Conference hashtag: #BlogHer12:
  • 24. Other passives• Watch for ―I felt, I thought … ‖• Adverbs: can you show ―angrily, nervously, heatedly, quickly, happily, repeatedly … ‖ Etc. • Can they be replaced with more vivid nouns and verbs? Session hashtag: #BH12Post2Essay: Conference hashtag: #BlogHer12:
  • 25. Use dialogue• Replace some instances of ―s/he said‖ and ―s/he told me,‖ with the actual dialogue.• Much more immediate: brings us into the scene• Too much is overkill Session hashtag: #BH12Post2Essay: Conference hashtag: #BlogHer12:
  • 26. Specificity―Write an I.O.U. to your soul to capture something that only you could have noticed about a story.‖ —Robert Krulwich, NPR Session hashtag: #BH12Post2Essay: Conference hashtag: #BlogHer12:
  • 27. Meaningless phrases• On the basis of • With a view to• To a large extent • In the event that• In the neighborhood of • In terms of• For the reason that • On the grounds of• Subject to • Provided that• Along the lines of • In accordance with• For the purpose of • To conclude• At this point in time • On a daily basis• With respect to Session hashtag: #BH12Post2Essay: Conference hashtag: #BlogHer12:
  • 28. Deflate words• Rationalization • Reason, excuse• Implementation • Do, use• Imagination • Imagine, think• Superficiality • Shallow, fake• Declination • Go down, diminish• Accomplishment • Make, realize• Prioritization • Choose, rank• Termination • End, stop, fire Session hashtag: #BH12Post2Essay: Conference hashtag: #BlogHer12:
  • 29. How do you know you’re done?―You just do. … you’ve gone over something so many times, and you deleted and pruned and rewritten, and the person who reads your work for you has given you great suggestions that you have mostly taken — and then finally something inside you just says it’s time to get onto the next thing. Of course there will always be more you can do, you have to remind yourself that perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.‖– Anne Lamott Session hashtag: #BH12Post2Essay: Conference hashtag: #BlogHer12: