Details & Structure  Kathleen Flinn
In this session, we‟ll           discuss               The “Who Cares Test” Focus, Theme and POV Service vs. Story Le...
“Sure, it‟s interesting.  But who cares?” Dr. James J. Nyka, journalism professor
Why do you care?              The competition is stiff in food blogging. You build readership when you engage readers ...
“Crutches”                     It takes a lot to pass the Who Cares Test when you rely onfood blogging‟s overused composi...
Focus, theme and POV             What is your focus?  Is your entire point really about getting peaches from the  farmer...
The Power of        Opening Lines             You get one chance to make a good impression
Do these pass          “The Who Cares Test?”                           “Strawberries are in season.” “I saw (berries, s...
…and then what happened?                             “When I heard a knock on my apartmentdoor a couple of weeks ago, I d...
Humor always works            “There are more recipes for biscuits and gravy in the world than there are boob jobs in Be...
Moments & Metaphors                                 “Last night as I was cleaning up after dinner Ifound a piece of basil...
A bit of Mystery                   “We met over plastic tubs of chickpeas, carrotcoins, and croutons.Even if I„d wanted t...
Writing Exercise – “The Postcard Turn”You have three lines to pique the interest of someone about one of your favorite pla...
The Magic Middle                  Keep it moving and keep readers interested
“The middle starts when the beginning starts to       wear off.”   –John Rezek, former articles         editor, Playboy
Pitfalls of the Middle                Cliffs: Drop-offs in the story. “Hey, what happened to  the person in the second s...
Mediocre Middles                “You can‟t let good (peaches, strawberries, etc.) go to  waste, so I decide to make (a p...
Insight/Admission                               “It was a delightful surprise. It also made me realizethat I had been act...
Layer in detail                        “This week I read that there is a heart-shaped meadowin England. A man there mourn...
Add in “gold coins”                   “Don‟t skip steps! Good biscuits and gravy cannot be  whipped up as quickly as the...
Toss in a great quote              “Cheryl Sternman tonged a tomato at me.”http://5secondrule.typepad.com/my_weblog/2012/...
Reinforce the title                “Strangely, I rarely cook for my parents. It isn‟t  because I am afraid to, feel that...
Writing Exercise: Halfway through a letterYou have two lines to set up a second beginning – something fun, a new metaphor,...
Ending Elegantly          People remember what they read last
Most people don‟t close it at all.   “They just sort of let their post endabruptly or trail off into the abyss.”          ...
Can it end better than this?                         “Enjoy!”“I hope you like it.”“I thought this was great, but tell me ...
What did you learn?                “Perhaps they‟ve knocked again when I was away atwork, or perhaps not. Two things are ...
Bring it full circle                     “…We will need to be together, doing little beautifulthings that will eventually...
Clarify the metaphor                “…Maybe I loved him already, way down in my tippytoes, in a place so hidden it was re...
Shock & Awe                          “I‟m going to spare you the sausage making and  gravy coaxing for Part Two, which y...
- The Hunger Games
Writing Exercises                 Tell the same story starting in at least two to three  different places Go to the sup...
Posts from this session            Howdy Neighborhttp://foodforthethoughtless.com/2012/07/blueberry-oatmeal-cookie-recipe...
And more…                 The Greatest Food Blog Giveaway Ever!  http://www.saltyseattle.com/2012/05/win-it-the-  bigges...
Enjoy!
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Hungry for Words: The Devil is in the Details, God is in the Framework -KFlinn

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Hungry for Words: The Devil is in the Details, God is in the Framework -KFlinn

  1. 1. Details & Structure Kathleen Flinn
  2. 2. In this session, we‟ll discuss  The “Who Cares Test” Focus, Theme and POV Service vs. Story Leads that make people read Supporting Details The “Magic” Middle – keep people reading Cliffs, slopes and speed bumps Why you want a memorable ending
  3. 3. “Sure, it‟s interesting. But who cares?” Dr. James J. Nyka, journalism professor
  4. 4. Why do you care?  The competition is stiff in food blogging. You build readership when you engage readers Most people write food blogs because they have something to say/share – I believe you can push yourself and say it better.
  5. 5. “Crutches” It takes a lot to pass the Who Cares Test when you rely onfood blogging‟s overused compositional crutches: The Grandmother/mother post The Weather report post(“It‟s (spring, summer) so it‟s time for (asparagus, peaches)” The farmer‟s market post(“I went to the farmer‟s market and got some peaches..”) The photo “dump” post (photos and a bit of text)
  6. 6. Focus, theme and POV  What is your focus? Is your entire point really about getting peaches from the farmer‟s market? Or getting out of the house? What is your theme? Food writing can be about more than a pie, consider a largerstory: about friendship, loneliness, the hassles of motherhood, thefleeting nature of summer… Consider changing your point of view What is it like to sell peaches at a farmer‟s market? What is theseller‟s point of view? The millions of question, people touchingfood they intend to buy… ?
  7. 7. The Power of Opening Lines You get one chance to make a good impression
  8. 8. Do these pass “The Who Cares Test?”  “Strawberries are in season.” “I saw (berries, squash, etc.) at the farmer‟s market and decided to bring some home…” “I made this dish a few weeks ago, but my mouth is still drooling looking at the photos.” “Did you know… ?” (Odds are the readers knows, and that it‟s also an uncreative lead)
  9. 9. …and then what happened? “When I heard a knock on my apartmentdoor a couple of weeks ago, I did what anynormal person would do. I hid.”http://foodforthethoughtless.com/2012/07/blueberry-oatmeal-cookie-recipe/A classic “…and then what happened” lead propels people to findout what’s coming next.
  10. 10. Humor always works “There are more recipes for biscuits and gravy in the world than there are boob jobs in Beverly Hills. Many of them are passable, at best.”http://www.saltyseattle.com/2012/04/make-perfect-biscuits-and-gravy-part-one-the-biscuit/
  11. 11. Moments & Metaphors “Last night as I was cleaning up after dinner Ifound a piece of basil on the keyboard, stuckbetween the Z and the X key.It was tricky to fish it out with a fingernail withoutholding down one of the keys, a good visual for whatit‟s like when I‟m sitting down to write sometimes.Stuck right there, at the end of the alphabet.”http://theplumpalate.com/2012/07/26/black-rice-salad-with-shelling-peas/
  12. 12. A bit of Mystery “We met over plastic tubs of chickpeas, carrotcoins, and croutons.Even if I„d wanted to look at him, I couldn‟t have. The saladbar‟s sneeze guard obscured my view, and Colin‟s face wasrefracted through its surface. But believe me when I tellyou, I wasn‟t looking at him. I was focused squarely on thetask at hand -- spooning kidney beans into my bowl andsearching for the freshest clumps of blue cheese…”http://5secondrule.typepad.com/my_weblog/2012/08/love-at-the-salad-bar.html
  13. 13. Writing Exercise – “The Postcard Turn”You have three lines to pique the interest of someone about one of your favorite places so they turn the postcard over, hoping for more words
  14. 14. The Magic Middle Keep it moving and keep readers interested
  15. 15. “The middle starts when the beginning starts to wear off.” –John Rezek, former articles editor, Playboy
  16. 16. Pitfalls of the Middle  Cliffs: Drop-offs in the story. “Hey, what happened to the person in the second sentence?” Slopes: The story goes on too long with a lack of focus, detail or interesting elements (“The Chatty Neighbor” effect) Speed bumps: Your story gets confusing, brings up points or facts that make the reader pause, includes dropping in foreign words, references to the obscure
  17. 17. Mediocre Middles  “You can‟t let good (peaches, strawberries, etc.) go to waste, so I decide to make (a pie, a tart, etc.)” “But first, let me tell you the story of Aunt Rose…” (unrelated to this story, but you go on for 200 words…) “The good folks at (company name) called and asked if I would make a dish based on this product. I‟d never used it, but I did see a recipe for it in a magazine once…” (Disclosure is important, but uninteresting; consider a standardmethod of disclosure that doesn’t introduce a speed bump )
  18. 18. Insight/Admission “It was a delightful surprise. It also made me realizethat I had been acting like a cynical shut-in…”http://foodforthethoughtless.com/2012/07/blueberry-oatmeal-cookie-recipe/
  19. 19. Layer in detail “This week I read that there is a heart-shaped meadowin England. A man there mourned and celebrated thelife of his late wife by planting thousands of oak treeson his farm.”http://theplumpalate.com/2012/07/26/black-rice-salad-with-shelling-peas/
  20. 20. Add in “gold coins”  “Don‟t skip steps! Good biscuits and gravy cannot be whipped up as quickly as the frothy libido of a teenager.”“…I set out to make a biscuit flakier than Paris Hilton’sdriver’s ed attendance record, not just one as fluffy as herego…”http://www.saltyseattle.com/2012/04/make-perfect-biscuits-and-gravy-part-one-the-biscuit/
  21. 21. Toss in a great quote “Cheryl Sternman tonged a tomato at me.”http://5secondrule.typepad.com/my_weblog/2012/08/love-at-the-salad-bar.html
  22. 22. Reinforce the title  “Strangely, I rarely cook for my parents. It isn‟t because I am afraid to, feel that they won‟t like my dishes, that they will complain or that my dishes won‟t be up to their standards. That isn‟t it at all.”http://www.monicabhide.com/2012/08/why-i-dont-cook-for-my-parents.html
  23. 23. Writing Exercise: Halfway through a letterYou have two lines to set up a second beginning – something fun, a new metaphor, a great quote
  24. 24. Ending Elegantly People remember what they read last
  25. 25. Most people don‟t close it at all. “They just sort of let their post endabruptly or trail off into the abyss.” - Marianne Hale, a novice food blog reader
  26. 26. Can it end better than this? “Enjoy!”“I hope you like it.”“I thought this was great, but tell me what you think!”“Here‟s to you, grandma!”“I‟m going to go eat now!”
  27. 27. What did you learn? “Perhaps they‟ve knocked again when I was away atwork, or perhaps not. Two things are certain, however:1.) People who bake cookies and leave nice notes for anentire apartment building are not by nature anti-social,so our eventual meeting is an inevitability and 2.) Thenext time I hear someone knock on my door, I‟manswering it. There might be more food involved.”http://foodforthethoughtless.com/2012/07/blueberry-oatmeal-cookie-recipe/
  28. 28. Bring it full circle “…We will need to be together, doing little beautifulthings that will eventually grow into somethingbigger, something that will someday look like thepicture we have in mind. We‟ll need to work togetherand eat together. To eat comfort food together. Toclimb out of our rut at the end of the alphabet, draw amap of the big picture, take a few bites and startplanting.”http://theplumpalate.com/2012/07/26/black-rice-salad-with-shelling-peas/
  29. 29. Clarify the metaphor “…Maybe I loved him already, way down in my tippytoes, in a place so hidden it was reachable only by apair of nondescript, plastic, salad bar tongs, a pair oftongs that knew me better than I knew myself.”http://5secondrule.typepad.com/my_weblog/2012/08/love-at-the-salad-bar.html
  30. 30. Shock & Awe  “I‟m going to spare you the sausage making and gravy coaxing for Part Two, which you can read here. I promise it‟s not quite as long, but you will need it if you want to nail biscuits and gravy the way my daddy nailed your mama last night.”http://www.saltyseattle.com/2012/04/make-perfect-biscuits-and-gravy-part-one-the-biscuit/
  31. 31. - The Hunger Games
  32. 32. Writing Exercises  Tell the same story starting in at least two to three different places Go to the supermarket instead of the farmer‟s market Write a post using verbs and descriptive words you‟ve never used before Change the point of view on a story – instead of being you, what does another person in the story see?
  33. 33. Posts from this session Howdy Neighborhttp://foodforthethoughtless.com/2012/07/blueberry-oatmeal-cookie-recipe/Black rice salad with shelling peashttp://theplumpalate.com/2012/07/26/black-rice-salad-with-shelling-peas/We met over the salad barhttp://5secondrule.typepad.com/my_weblog/2012/08/love-at-the-salad-bar.html
  34. 34. And more…  The Greatest Food Blog Giveaway Ever! http://www.saltyseattle.com/2012/05/win-it-the- biggest-giveaway-a-food-blogger-has-ever-given- away/ Why I Don‟t Cook for My Parents http://www.monicabhide.com/2012/08/why-i- dont-cook-for-my-parents.html Biscuits & Gravy: Part I http://www.saltyseattle.com/2012/04/make-perfect-biscuits-and-gravy-part-one-the-biscuit/
  35. 35. Enjoy!

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