You have to know the rules before you can break the rules.
That truism applies to so many things, and I’ve always applied it to writing and other art forms. So many people will look at a photograph or a particular book and declare, quite falsely: I could have done that myself.
How? How could they have done it themselves?
What do you know about photography or writing, you ask these people.
So much, they answer.
Like what specifically, comes your next question.
Well, more than that guy who took that picture or wrote that book, they snort mightily.
Prove it, you say.
Okay, they say.
And they immediately start a blog. This Awesome Picture Taker Writing About Writing Things, they call it. At thisawesomepicturetakerwritingaboutwritingthings.blogspot.com.
And you get to make awkward conversation about it everyday in the hallway at work because you were the one who encouraged them to express themselves on the Internet in the very first place. Your breakroom coffee cools then finally freezes over as you’re patting shoulders, drying tears and assuring them that, yes, their crappy photography writing blog is wonderful, and they’ll soon enough get more traffic, hey, just be patient, and everybody starts out with just their mothers reading for three years.
You’ve got to know the rules before you can break the rules, you now want to tell these people. Then you feign hearing your office phone ring and, as soon as you get back to your desk, you email them the link to yeah write. Knowing yeah write will distract them for a good two months, you sit back and open a fresh game of Words with Friends. Your work here is done, and ours is just beginning. We’ll whip them into shape starting in 3…2…1…
Why have the yeah write editors been so adamant about the summer series 500-word limit?
To give you the discipline to leave out unnecessary words even when you don’t have a word limit. Why spend so much time listening to us just to win one of these challenges? Take what you’ve learned and apply it to your entire blogging experience. Don’t be that awful person who writes a 2,500 –word post on how you’re writing for yourself and you don’t care what anyone thinks and who cares about good spelling and grammer. And please don’t end the post with “word” or “that’s how I roll”. I will deny we ever knew you.
Why are more and more submissions to the yeah write grid being sent back to the bloggers for reworking?
Enforcing the publishing guidelines while providing constructive criticism became necessary for two opposite reasons:
What a terrible feeling for those who wrote their hearts out, didn’t quite hit the mark, yet got 35 awesome comments and, on voting day, felt a disconnect between those supportive comments and their bottom ranks on the grid and no editors’ mention. No one wants to be the kid who gets a blue ribbon just for showing up with his shoes tied. Those bloggers wanted to be fully competitive in the writing challenge like everyone else.
On the flip side: what about those who months ago would throw something onto the grid, ignoring the guidelines, definitely not bringing their best stuff, then grab their 50 awesome comments while laughing all the way to their highest page view count in months? Do you think they cared about any rules of writing? Do you think they cared about the yeah write community? With the grid now being moderated, we’re about to find out.
What’s the best way to become a better writer?
Read, read and read some more. You’ll understand better the flow of language and why the uncluttered sentence works best in a small amount of words. You’ll learn when it’s necessary to tell your readers the man you helped find his wallet was a black guy and when it isn’t (hint: it usually isn’t). Openings and endings will become less of a challenge. Little details about the works you’re reading, such as how long it took for the writer to complete a short story (what? 10 years? wow) will go a long way toward your understanding the first draft, subsequent drafts and editing process—yes, even just for a fun blog post about your grandma’s favorite shoes.
What’s the best length for a blog post?
If it’s compelling and interesting, there is no limit. People will bookmark and come back to it when they have more time. But, let’s face it, in most blogging circles, we’re not expecting blog posts to rival The Atlantic or some of your friends’ Facebook statuses. We’re surfing through while at work or relaxing during kids’ naps or what have you. You’ve lost half your readers at 1,500 words. You’ve lost yeah write at 1,000.
Be creative, be interesting, if you’re not feeling it one week, step away—we’re not going anywhere. Don’t insulate yourself by surrounding yourself with like-minded people: open your mind to other types of blogs than the ones you read day in and day out. Avoid melodrama and pathos and manipulating your readers’ emotions with your writing. Read your post aloud. Any sentence that causes you to stumble while speaking needs reworking. Don’t forget the “so what” of your anecdote, essay, fiction, creative non-fiction, fun blog post about your grandma’s favorite shoes. Show us your natural personality. If you’re naturally boring, show us someone else’s. Good writers work it out.
Yeah write #69 summer challenge grid is open for submissions. Bring us your best stuff.
yeah write #69 badges
[image width=“200” height=“200” align=“left” lightbox=“true” caption=“You can grab this one. Click to embiggen. Then right-click and select save this image.” title=””]http://yeahwrite.me/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/yw_wwb_bww.png [/image]
- Click in the upper right corner of this page on the plus symbol and the hidden widget containing the button badge codes will drop
- Copy the code of your favorite badge, then paste that code into the HTML view of the post you’re planning to submit to the grid
- If you’re having problems accessing those, feel free to grab the one in this post. Your backlink will be yeahwrite.me/69-open-summer or yeahwrite.me/69-open-hangout
[header_box_1 title=“yeah write #69 writing prompts”]
all your story are belong to you
- Read the summer FAQ page for other details: the grid is being moderated and if you’re missing an element outlined in the summer FAQ, your post will not be published on the grid
- Let the prompt lead you, but do not include the prompt in any way in your post, not at the beginning as an intro, not at the end as a footnote. If you reference the prompt in your post, your post will not be published on the grid
- Remember: no more than 500 words. If your post exceeds 500 words, yup, you guessed it—no publish for you
- If the prompt takes you from thunderstorms to watching TV at your grandma’s house to how much you love Pat Sajak to the oldest person you’ve ever kissed, we want that story the furthest away in your imagination from the original prompt. Let your imagination loose
- Keep your writing style! Do you tell stories with humor? Prose? Verse? Photos? Illustrations? Keep doing that. We’ll read Shakespearean drama on our own time
- Cut away at everything unnecessary to your story
- Don’t forget to badge your post
- The grid will close to new submissions Wednesday at 9 pm US eastern
- Voting for your favorites will open Wednesday at 9 pm US eastern then close Thursday at 9 pm
[divider_header_h3] This week’s prompts [courtesy of Tom Slatin] [/divider_header_h3]
- Describe an odd or unusual writing habit or ritual you have
- Name something you’ve given away that can never be replaced
- Do you have any irrational fears?