Writers I Read

Some writers have a knack for making me read their work. There’s one science fiction writer, for example, who’s blog I follow. Understand, I’m not a fan of science fiction, but I read this author’s blog, word for word. I don’t skim.

Others I want to read. I’ll follow someone’s blog because I read a post once that I thought was interesting, or because I like their novel, or we had a meaningful exchange of ideas on Facebook or in the comments section of another blog. I respect them. I just don’t always find myself reading what they write.

Others, I skim. I know the experts tell us to do it, and they do–adding bold font or bullet points. But that allows me to skim, encourages me to skim, so I skim. And nothing in what I’m skimming compels me to go back and read more carefully.

So what is it that those writers have whose posts grab me and hold me even when they’re writing about a movie I don’t want to see, will never see, or about microbes in the human gut, or about growing up in Kansas, or whatever it might be?

Of course there are those post with content in which I’m interested. It might be writing or fantasy or a significant spiritual truth. It might be a topic I like discussing, like creation or politics or sports. Content driven articles, I understand.

What I don’t understand is that intangible. I’ve stopped reading articles about speculative fiction or the publishing industry or God–topics I love to read about and discuss–all because … well, I lost interest. I’ve subscribed to blogs by famous writers because I thought it would help me stay current with my genre–only to find that I have no idea with that person is saying on a day-to-day basis.

On the other hand, I’ve received newsletters by novelists whose books I’ve never read, and yet I devour the articles down to the last word. Why?

I’d love to know because I’d love to replicate those writers’ ability … although, as I write that, I wonder, can ability be replicated? Probably not, but technique might be learned.

One thing some of those writers have is humor. Notice, I didn’t say, a sense of humor. I have a sense of humor. In fact I love to laugh. Love, love, love to laugh. I just don’t use humor much in my writing. I admire authors who do. Andrew Peterson, Matt Mikalatos, Jonathan Robers–I love their books and appreciate their use of humor. I just haven’t got a clue how to use it in my own writing.

A time or two I tried to use humor here on my blog–a little exaggeration, perhaps, a bit of irony or sarcasm. As I recall, those posts have inevitably garnered criticism because someone didn’t recognize the humor. I don’t blame them. Unless you can see the twinkle in my eye or the upturned eyebrow or the suppressed smile, how do you know I meant those lines to be funny?

Writers that write humor can do it. I, on the other hand, am at a loss.

Humor isn’t the only thing that makes writing interesting. When Brandilyn Collins used to blog, I often said she could write the phone book, and I’d find it interesting. I never did quite figure how why, though. She often told stories, and told them well, so perhaps that was her secret ingredient.

Maybe there isn’t one way, either. Some writers are engaging because their content is controversial (Mike Duran), some because they bring a quality of professionalism and expertise, some because they are entertaining.

And the borin ones in which I lose interest? I’m still trying to figure that out. 😉

You can help. Tell me what makes you read a blog post from start to finish or what makes you start to skim or to stop altogether. After all, with all your input, these posts here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction are bound to get a whole lot better!!

Published in: on August 30, 2012 at 6:06 pm  Comments (10)  
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10 Comments

  1. I totally relate with the humor thing. I love to laugh, but I don’t seem to be able to write something funny. Oh well 😉

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    • Yep, I’ve come to understand that is someone else’s giftedness. I’ll enjoy it, but I won’t try to force myself into the humor mold. Sometimes I feel “fanciful,” and if it comes naturally, I’ll go with it, but more often than not, my role is to laugh. 😆

      Becky

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  2. I know one thing that makes me stop reading a blog post is a summary opening paragraph (which a lot of professional blog authors, like Michael Hyatt, use). If I can get the gist of the whole post in one paragraph, unless it’s immensely interesting or relevant, why keep reading?

    Another thing that makes me stop reading is a negative mindset for the post. I hate posts that go on and on about what people (in specific or general) are doing wrong, unless it’s written in a humorous way. Give me 2 examples of people who are doing things right instead of 5 who are doing things wrong, or at least mix it up a little.

    I find bullet points cause me to skim, too. I rarely use them on my blogs, and when I do, it’s usually for a small list within the main article instead of encompassing the majority of the post.

    Yes, Brandilyn’s blog was amazing! She could write about a trip to the dentist’s office for days and it still was compelling reading material. I think a part of her secret was employing fiction techniques in her blogging. Unlike the summary opening method, she’d give pieces of the puzzle throughout the post and you’d get the full picture at the end. Not that she hid what the post was about, but her post title teased and the rest of the post delivered.

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    • Interesting point about the opening paragraph, Katie. That summary thing is “school writing.” It’s the way I learned you’re supposed to write term papers. But I get what you’re saying. When it comes to blogs, if you’re going to invest time in the entire article, there has to be a reason. If you have the gist up front, why keep going–unless it is some unusual take or a topic you’re intensely interested in.

      You’re right about Brandilyn’s posts. She had a knack for telling stories that were riveting. I’d forgotten about the dentist stories. She had me rolling. And even the ones about going to Mount Hermon when she was so sick and confined in a wheelchair … There’s something about a writer who doesn’t take herself too seriously that is appealing, along with the entertainment factor, I think.

      Thanks for your insights.

      Becky

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  3. Becky,

    For me, I enjoy Mike Duran’s blog because he’s not afraid to write about controversial subjects and push the envelope a bit. Also, he has good content that makes you think and I must admit his blog has been an inspiration for my own blog.

    For example, he had a blog post reviewing Francine Rivers’ most popular novel, Redeeming Love. Because he stepped outside of his comfort zone to read something that he would not normally read and critique a popular beloved work showed me he had guts. I appreciate that and it caused me to follow his example on my blog and I read Sidney Sheldon’s best-selling classic, The Other Side of Midnight.

    I got quite a few responses for stepping outside of my comfort zone to read a novel I wouldn’t normally read.

    Because of that example, I believe good blogs can influence you to think long after you’ve read them and try something new that you would not normally try.

    Marion

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    • I agree, Marion (and happy birthday again – 😉 ) Mike Duran is a good example of a writer who can put out thought-provoking content. What’s more, he draws others who write interesting comments too. I don’t know how many times I’ve thought I wouldn’t comment to something he wrote because of time constraints, but then I read what someone else commented, and the next thing I know, I’m hitting “reply.” Sigh!

      But that’s a good thing. As you say, it can be a catalyst for our own posts.

      Becky

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  4. Great food for thought! I’ve had the same experience with writer’s blogs. 🙂

    After pondering the matter, I realized I tend to be interested in a writer’s life and work. A writer’s blog will bring me back if its author chronicles her progress on her novel and shares snippets from her life: funny stuff, interesting events, family life. I especially love it if she writes about irritations in a lighthearted way, i.e. a dog dashing across the tile with muddy paws, or realizing that she forgot to print out three chapters of her novel and so has more to edit than she originally thought. (The latter happened to me this morning!) Three authors whose write like this are Keanan Brand and Rachel Rossano and Rachel Starr Thomson.

    What’s really annoying in a writer’s blog is a post like this: “Check out this great article at [insert website the author follows]” with a link afterward. Urgh. Also a blog that lacks information about a writer’s WIP save for a sidebar with a book cover. :::sigh:::

    I love your blogs because of your style: honest and firm and thought-provoking, but never attacking anyone. I check the SpecFaith network every day, eagerly hoping for new posts!

    Blessings,

    Literaturelady

    P.S. Speaking of works in progress, how is The Lore of Efrathah coming? I really enjoyed the excerpt!

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    • Oooohh, yes, Elizabeth. I think author posts about their writing journey or tidbits about their lives are very interesting. Keanan and Rachel are both good writers!

      Thanks for your kind words about my posts. You made my day. And about The Lore of Efrathah. Made-day doubled. 😀

      I am currently revising book one, HUNTED. I had the opportunity to submit it to a general market publisher as part of an open submissions period they held. I revised the first five chapters based on feedback from my writers’ group and a critique partner, so now I’m trying to make the rest of the book match in case this editor asks for a complete.

      Becky

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  5. I stop reading posts that begin like a school kids homework assignment where they tell us what they are writing about before they get into the meat of their article. Hook me in! On the other hand, I skim articles that are too long unless they have great writing and really have a lot of knowledge in it that I can’t help but want to absorb (case in point…yours…love reading it).

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  6. Oh, yes, the dreaded too-long post. You are so right, Nikole. I know I will sometime skip an article even though I might be interested in the topic, simply because I don’t want to take the time to read the whole thing. If’ it’s really good, I might bookmark it. But otherwise, if I’m not hooked and it’s too long, I either skim or move on.

    I can get sucked into the vortex of “too long” though. When I started blogging, my target length was 400 words. Ha! Now I think 400 words is a little skimpy.

    I guess I’m just long winded. 🙄

    Becky

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