Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Are You a Better Blogger Than a 4th Grader?

My youngest son is in 4th grade and he has a national writing test coming up at the end of the month.  His school is preparing for it by doing several writing assignments. The great thing is, they're teaching the kids how to structure stories creatively.  The bad thing is, they're pushing the kids to write to the test and limit the creativity to what the test is. 

Some kids, like my son, are stressed a bit because they are super creative writers by heart and this test killing their creativity with strict structure. These NESA (I have no idea what it stands for.  National Educational Sucks Assessments?) tests are built to see where America stands in the fight against stupidness, but constricting free will of a teacher makes the students suffer creatively. My son gets so excited to show his creative side and when he finds out he has to drum up a boring paper,  he get noticeably upset.

After hours of discussing the possibilities of things my son could write,  it was a let down to both of us when he had to stick to the checklist.  It made me think of how I blog and how other bloggers blog.  I went down the checklist and discovered blogging wasn't about being creative,  it was about filling in tick boxes on a checklist to get readers.  What happened to the good old days of creative blogging? Why do most bloggers feel the need to be so dry just to act like journalists? Has blogging become a NESA test to gain approval? I hope not or we're all doomed to become extinct to social media outlets that drive regurgitated memes down our that's until we throw up bile.  Then we give up...

As you all know or don't know because you are a new reader, I've been a blogger for a long time. Over the years I've changed my blog address like a babies diaper. I get so emotionally involved in my writing I get pissed off at how lazy most bloggers are with their writing.  I know, I shouldn't and what others do is their prerogative, but dangnabit,  blogging should be about the writing and the interactions. Blogging is losing its foundation and it's pushing the real writers away and the audience to Facebook or Google Plus. I want to do my part to bring blogging back.

Fortunately for all my blogger buddies, I stole my son's checklist to help us be more dynamic bloggers.  Here are 5 things we all should be doing in our blog posts:

1. Catchy Lead:

What that means is: the first paragraph should POP! You should feel like a fisherman thing to reel in Moby Dick. You need to get your best whaling boats on to help grip the poop deck so you can hold on with dear life as the big Dick thrashes around.  Your reader is deciding if they want to read the rest or swim away to another post.  You want that first paragraph to grab them in the cheek so hard they bleed with excitement.

After you've hooked them with the Catchy Lead,  you can beat their brains in with a small hammer on the deck. As they lie there bleeding out their ears and mouth,  you can slowly flay them spilling their guts out through the rest of your post.  Just when you think they're truly dead,  they start convulsing away from your post back to the open sea.  QUICK, get the hatchet out of the tackle box and lop their head off with an exciting transition.

2. Transitions:

Some call them seagways,  but in the 4th grade we call them transitions.  I know I'm guilty of getting bored with a paragraph and for no reason starting another one. The transition keep the whole post linked together nicely.  I have a hard time remembering to do transitions. I get so distracted by myself.

I'll be strolling down a post minding my own business,  when a man jumps out of a dark ally flashing me his hotdog. Next thing I know,  I'm now walking down a different street with 2 hotdogs with chilli and cheese.  Oh man,  I could really go for a nice hot weiner smothered in chilli and cheese.  It just makes my mouth water. My taste buds are *DRIP*... 

3. Onomatopoeia:

Ok,  This one shouldn't be used too much,  but it's nice once and awhile to throw one or two in a post to keep your reader on their toes.  I'm not saying you should write like 1960's Batman fight scene, but adding a little *POW* right in the kisser,  to a post couldn't hurt. I'll give you a quick example for a gaming post:

Last night I was raiding the Tome of King Something Nuts and my epic ring dropped *chaaaaching*! I nearly crapped my pants *plop*. I screamed so loud my wife got scared and slapped me in the back of the head *CRACK*.  I was like,  crying *sob*, so she kissed my boo-boo *slobber*.  I knew then we were getting a divorce.

That was over doing it,  but it helps you get the point.  I'd say one onomatopoeia every once and awhile is fun to have. It adds *pizzazz* to an otherwise azz post. There is something about spicing up a post with little changes that makes you engaged in the story itself.  You can almost see the story take shape.  Like a fat man leaving the gym drenched in musty,  hot sweat.  You can feel his body heat pressing against you from 10 feet away and the smell threatens to excavate your lunch from deep in the put of your stomach... *wrech*!

4. Senses, Adjectives, and Show Not Tell:

Oh so many blog posts that, blah blah blah with their monotone, narrative posts.  Where the hell are your adjectives?  Is your mind as dull as your posts? Wake up and smell the morning breath! Just because you're trying to persuade readers into seeing your point of view,  you don't have to write like you're a rotting corpse.  Tell me how rancid you smell.  Add some color to your bloated posts. 

The key to really getting your readers involved in what you have to say is in your 5 senses and showing people what you see.  Don't just write words on the Internet,  slap them up with pride and feel the words reverberate into your computer. let those passionate words pierce your readers in their eyes.  You want their hot, red blood bursting out of their pupils squirting all over their crumb infested keyboards. I know,  this type of writing might make some of your readers go into shock and sloppily, moisten their cotton undies with fresh nuggets of excitement. In the end your reader will be begging for more or a used air sickness bag.

5. Ending Formula:

The end is just about as important as your Catchy Lead. You want to wrap up everything you said nicely so your readers come back. Even if you switch blog URLs as much as I do.

The ending I hate most on blogs is TL:DR. To me that means: sorry my content lacks a catchy lead, good transitions, onomatopoeias, and adjectives. Instead of adding flavor and pride to my post, I'm going to end this by impaling myself on a samurai sword. Sorry TL:D... *gurgle*

Might as well not write the post at all and go on Twitter. 

The ending to a post is like watching two lovers kiss naked or a little girl watching her whole family get blown up,  then the credits roll at the end of the movie.  You either sit their wiping your tears away thinking, what the Hell or man, THAT'S just blew me away! You can make or break a post with the end. What if I wrote all this and just ended right now...


  1. Creativity is easy when given free reign to write about anything and everything, but there's a few things to keep in mind.

    1. There are rules for writing well. Proper spelling is one. Proper use of punctuation is another.
    2. There are agreed-upon guidelines for writing that we as readers understand when we see them, but don't necessarily know how to enact ourselves. That "transition" element is key to making a smooth read, and if you can't pull it off, it's like riding down a bumpy road on a bike with no seat.
    3. The true test of a person's creativity is doing what they can with what they are given. The "rules" of assignments may seem too constraining, but that's the challenge.
    4. I once read some author (I want to say it was Stephen King) who said that it's OK to break the rules in writing, but first you need to KNOW the rules of writing. Or something like that.

    And keep in mind that in fourth grade, kids are learning these rules so that later on in life, they can break them. And if your son ends up writing as well as his father, I don't think he'll have anything to worry about.

    1. You bring the logic hammer and make me want to fist bump you! Thanks for the great comment. You're right of course. His checklist did have the structure points you mentioned but I left out due to word count. He had: punctuation, capitalization, paragraphs, tense, and other guides for the test. I agree they need to know word for word what they're building before they can design their own artistic masterpiece.

      I wish I learned half the stuff he is learning about writing, I would be dangerous. Unfortunately I was horrible at English and it's been a struggle my whole life. I hope encouraging my kids will give them the tools to succeed in anything they do before it's too late.

  2. Why do most bloggers feel the need to be so dry just to act like journalists?

    I think it has to do with the likely response you'll get for your blogging. If you say what you really think, it is likely that your real thoughts are not "politically correct", and you'll be bombarded with a shitstorm of hate comments.

    I recently got into a huge argument on a gaming blog where I was commenting on a post about gender roles in games. My argument was that we can't have a real discussion about that subject, because we aren't allowed to have an opinion that diverges from the ultra-feminist line. Just saying that I thought it was okay that the "Warlords of Draenor" poster showed only male characters was already enough for me to be considered a male chauvinist pig.

    The reason why journalist write bland stuff is because they try not to get their paper into trouble with anybody. The reason why bloggers imitate that is often pretty much the same.

    1. Of course you're right. When I was writing for MMORPG. com I felt the same way. I didn't want to piss people off because I felt I would hurt their revenue. Silly as it was, I think K playing it safe hurt my writing. If you look at the comments And they dream sites like that are fanboys, but they have to be to gain more revenue.

      Good thing about blogging is you can speak your mind