Ending Your Blog With a Question?

There’s a blog I follow that ends each post with a question. At first, I enjoyed just reading the question. But as I keep following, I realized how much fun it is to think about the question and post a response. And if I don’t have enough time to respond, I at least think about the question.

The writer of the blog is a  fellow mom-blogger, Lauren.  She relates a circumstance in her life to research she finds then posts about it.  Given she’s a mom of a young child, there are plenty of studies out there for her to read. Why do I find this compelling? Why am I drawn to reading her blog?

Partly, because I’m also the mom of young children so it’s interesting to read about  situations I’ve been through, am currently in, or might be in some day. But it’s also that question she always asks at the end of each blog post. She words it in a friendly tone and then responds to my answers.

How can this help you with your blog?

  •  As you write your posts, think about your topic and the takeaway.
  • Next, picture your readers as friends chatting together at a coffee shop.
  • Then, ask a question to the group;   A question that leads to more than just a yes-no answer and one that invites readers to respond in the comments.
  • Finally, respond to each comment and check out your reader’s blog just as your reader checked out yours.

Do you end your blog with a question? If so, how do you choose it?

5 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Categories

Who’s Your Audience? Hints for Bloggers

You’ve probably heard it before: Know your audience.

You might think it’s obvious.   Your readers are moms, bloggers,  or fill-in-the-blank. How much more do you need to know about them?

Being a busy mom, you may not have time to research and learn a lot about your audience. So instead, you just write for everyone.  But if you want to maintain and grow your readership, you might consider knowing even more about them.

One way to think of blogging is picturing it like a book store. Each book has a genre it fits into. As you walk into the store, you head to the mysteries, non-fiction or self help because that’s what interests you.  You assume a book you choose will be about a particular subject, from start to finish.  After all,  you’d be confused if a writer, who normally writes mystery, threw in a chapter about self help.  The authors know their audiences and write directly to them.

How can you take this same idea and put it to use in your blog?

  • If you already have a blog, look through your posts. Who do you tend to address when writing? Moms of babies?  Moms of preschoolers? People looking for humorous  anecdotes? These are the people who return to your blog each week in hopes of finding new and fresh ideas. Fine tune your  ideas to keep current readers coming and future ones signing up.   By fine tuning one subject, your readers will know what to expect. Those who like your blog will keep coming back and even refer you to others.  If your blog is scattered with topics ranging from parenting, to going out, to vacationing to clipping coupons, your readers won’t know what to expect.  You don’t want to  confuse your reader.
  • If you’re just starting out blogging, great! It’s a fun, social activity. Write down at least 10 ideas for possible blog posts. Now look at those ideas and try using the previous bullet as an exercise to help you fine tune your writing and your readership.
  • Your posting title should attract your reader and say, “Read Me”. It should state what that post’s topic is about.  And your posting should fulfill that promise.  If your blog is for moms of preschoolers looking for rainy day activities, it’s your job to know that.  Title your blog so they understand what to expect in your post.
  • Do you have a variety of topics you want to write about? No reason why you can’t start more than one blog. By having more than one, you’ll attract readers who are interested in each topic. Some readers might enjoy reading both blogs, but some might feel connected to just one. A good example of this is fellow mom blogger, Janice. She has a witty mom’s blog, I Cannot Be the Only One, and also a wine lovers blog,  A Middle Class Mama’s Wine Review. Two separate ideas, two separate blogs.

By keeping a person in mind and fine tuning your writing to that person, you’ll soon  see your readership grow.

Care to share your blog? Leave a comment with a link to your site. I look forward to visiting. And follow BusyMomsWrite to receive weekly hints on blogging and writing.

Happy Writing,

Marcia Fowler

3 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Categories, Writing Tips

Online Writing Services and Classes

Thinking of improving your writing with an online class or critique services?

Within the past year, I’ve enrolled in two separate classes and recently used a critique service. Two of the three services were well worth the cost. The other, was not.

I felt the first class I took, writing non-fiction,  wasn’t worth the $175.00. I know, I was crazy to pay the price but when you’re a mom stuck at home and can’t get out to take a class, you’ll pay almost anything.

I took the class through University of Wisconsin Continuing Education. I was looking forward to was unique lessons and thorough critiques which were advertised in the description of the class.  Unfortunately,  many of  the lessons were directly out of a book I already owned. I was also disappointed in the critiques, which included comments like, Great. Looks good. Those types of comments aren’t for me. I want the ones that say, “This doesn’t work because…” or “I’m confused here because.” That’s the only way to become a better writer.

The second online class I took was worth the cost of  $99.00. It was Advanced Fiction through Ed2Go. The instructor, Steve Alcorn, wrote an interesting, funny, easy to understand curriculum. He did not critique or give much feedback, but there was a good discussion board and if I had a question, it was answered within a day. I couldn’t wait for each lesson and was sad when the class was over.

The third online service I used as an online critique service by C. S. Lakin. She gave a thorough critique of my first 10 pages, which ended up being two chapters of my chapter book. I felt her price, $45.00, was worth it. She gave honest comments about confusing parts, parts that she felt worked, and suggestions.  She wrote in such a friendly manner it was like having a friend talk to me.  I recommend her services.

Have you taken an online writing course? If so, tell us about your experience.

Happy Writing!

Marcia

7 Comments

Filed under Categories, Online writing services, Writing Tips

Create Tension in your Writing

Having trouble creating tension between your characters? I am. Thankfully,  Linda Crotta-Brennan, a friend of mine who also happens to be an awarding winning author, suggested I read Frog and Toad are Friends, by Arnold Lobel, as an example.

Frog and Toad are best friends, yet they are opposites in many ways.  These  differences create the perfect tension for a book. Lobel shows us how Frog is much happier than Toad. On the first day of spring, Frog is excited and runs to his friend’s house.

Frog yells, Wake up, It’s Spring.”

“Blah” said a voice from inside the house.

Isn’t that great? In only fourteen words Lobel had shown us the personalities of his characters.

Frog goes on to say how they will skip through meadows, run through the woods, and swim in the river. Can’t you just picture Frog’s happiness? Haven’t you felt the same on the first warm day of spring?

But Toad says,” I will be too tired. I’m going back to bed.”

I can feel the tension already. One character is pulling one way while the other is pulling the opposite way.
Now I need to start working on my characters and figure out ways for them to pull in opposite directions, yet keep their love for each other.

How do you create tension in your writing?

Check out the Frog and Toad series for more examples.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Books I Read, Writing Tips

Finished a Rough Draft?

Have you finished a rough draft of a book?

I recently finished a rough draft of chapter book for children. What a relief I felt. I finally know where the story is going, who’s in it and what happens. At least I thought I did.

But now I’m on the second draft. Working on this draft is like rearranging furniture in your house; Furniture that doesn’t all match. Maybe some is left over from your single days, some is handed down from ancestors and some acquired from marriage. At times you wish you could sell all of the furniture at a yard sale and just start over with an empty room. But you can’t afford to, especially since you haven’t made a dime from the book you haven’t yet finished.

So you arrange and rearrange your room with what you do have. You take a break and look around during the morning light. Then you look during the afternoon light and the evening light. You look at it from the front doorway, from the hall and kitchen. You move a couch from one wall to another. You move a table to the basement. You move pictures and rugs. You finally break out a glass of wine, sit, sip and just close your eyes and say, why am I doing this when I could be, exercising, planting spring bulbs in the garden, or doing anything other than dealing with this confusing mess?

But you go back to rearranging furniture. And if you’re lucky enough, you have friends who come over to see that crazy mess and help you rearrange. They’re honest friends who tell you to throw out old Auntie Gertrude’s disgusting braided rug and just shine the hardwood floors you already have. Friends who tell you that the purple throw pillows are working perfectly and don’t toss them. Friends who will break out the champagne and celebrate with you once you have it the way you want it.

As you edit your rough draft, think back to where you were when you had a folder of empty pages. That folder is no longer empty. Yes, it has some files that need tossing, like the old braided carpet, but your rough draft has a lot more that needs to stay. Pat yourself on the back. Invite the friends over who know how hard it is to finish not only a first draft but to rewrite that story until it’s ready to submit. It will happen and then you’ll be able to celebrate with friends and champagne.

Share your writing endeavors in the comments below. I love hearing from you.

4 Comments

Filed under Categories

Choosing a Name for your Character

Looking for just the right  name for your character?

Choosing names can be difficult. Your first or second choice may not fit your characters.  Or, if you’re like me, you don’t even bother choosing a name until  you’re well into your story. Mr. X or Mrs. Y just takes the place of a real name.

But at some point, you’ll need to name those nameless characters. After all, you’ve written and re-written sections with these characters. You’ve worked  on their personalities, their dialogue, and their problems. Now it’s time to find the perfect name.  Here are two helpful sites.

For first names, try Behindthenamefirstname. This site gives the etymology and history of first names.

For last names, try this site, BehindtheNameSurnames.

One of my characters was name simply Mrs. S, until I stumbled upon this site. Now she has a name that suits her character.  Behind the Name is  a fun site to use. But beware: It’s easy to spend most of your writing time  searching through these sites even after you’ve already found the right name for your characters.

1 Comment

Filed under Categories, Writing Tips

February Writing Challenge: Touch and Sight

This week I’m combining seeing and touching as the last challenge of February.

It’s easy to fall back on describing someone by simply saying, he looks ___.  But why not try to expand on that description? If you want to say he’s happy try,  his smile stayed with him as he glided on skates around the rink. By expanding on a simple, he looks ___ sentence, you can help your readers visualize your characters.

What about using sight to describe objects? Well, what if you want to describe your couch. You can say, it’s brown. Or you can describe how it really looks. A kernel of popcorn peeps out from under the cranberry colored pillow. One couch cushion sits zipper side out after my four year old used it on the floor as a trampoline.

The first description,  my couch is brown, only told you the color. The second description lets you know I’m not the best housekeeper and I have a child who is active.

Try doing the same for touch.  If you closed your eyes and a family member or friend put his or her hand in yours, would you know f it was your son’s, your daughter’s or a friend’s? How would you know?

What about clothes? How do your jeans feel different from your bathrobe? Your sneakers from your heels? Show your reader through using the sense of touch.

This week, watch your children, your spouse, your coworker or even mailman. Write down what you see them doing.  How do you know they’re happy, frustrated, tired or hungry? How are they showing it?

Also, think about the feel of people and objects. Try touching a variety of objects from the bristly vegetable brush to your child’s soft hair. Write what you see and feel in your journal, blogs or chapter of your novel.

Feel free to share your descriptions in the comments.

Happy Writing,

Marcia

2 Comments

Filed under Categories, Monthly Challenges, Writing Tips