Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Blog Writing 101: How to self-edit
I had two different stories, and should have written it that way. Instead, I threw everything together.
Today I'm posting this meta-post to show others the error of my ways, hopefully so you can avoid the same mistakes.
Here are three links:
Original post: The meandering brain dump
Rewrite #1: The question story
Rewrite #2: The winemaker profile
Now, how did I get from the lousy original post to the rewrites?
It didn't take long -- less than 15 minutes (not counting time needed to write this). I added almost no copy; it's all subtraction.
If you're taking Writing for Social Media or a similar course, and want to delve into it, look at some of the things I took out.
I took out redundancies. Why say the same thing twice? Or again and again?
I took out my pretended fear at the interview subject hitting me. In real life, if an ex-NFL player hit me, I would get back up on my knees and thank God for securing my financial future before shopping around for a lawyer.
Moreover, it undermines my online persona. Am I a coward? Maybe in real life, but I don't usually play one on the Internet.
I wrote a bad lead to the original post; the story is not about Buddy Ryan. Terry Hoage worships him, so he's worth including, but I probably lost half my readers with the first sentence.
I took out NFL minutiae, such as the years Hoage played for each different team. It's visually distracting, particularly that early in the story. And this is not an NFL blog.
One thing I did add was a link to Hoage's website. That should be de rigueur; I just forgot.
Hoage's question was the whole reason I wrote the post, but I took forever to get to it. And then, while I'm happy enough with my own answer to it, I didn't give my readers a real chance to answer it. Ending away from the question is a conversation killer on a post that was supposed to be a conversation starter.
If I had it to do over again, I could run just the question post -- that's the stronger post about wine, and this is a wine blog. I could also run both posts on separate days.
For me, though, the best solution would have been to cross-pollinate on multiple online platforms. I could have offered an expanded football player-turned-winemaker post to Wine Review Online or Palate Press, and used the shorter question post on my own blog as a way to plug the other site.
So I blew a good posting opportunity. At least I've created a teaching opportunity.
Did anyone learn anything from this?
Posted by W. Blake Gray at 8:56 AM