Ramblings from the Desert

The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either. ~Benjamin Franklin

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Location: New Mexico

Author of the urban fantasy novel, The Music of Chaos, and the paranormal romance, The Canvas Thief.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Anatomy of a Blog Hit

While doing the surf thing via BlogExplosion, I started pondering "What makes a good blog?" Of course, "good" is terribly subjective. The question has been addressed by others and always seems to come down to content. Everybody has blog topics/themes that make their eyes bleed. I certainly do.

I can live a long happy life without seeing another: God blog, mommy blog, business blog, hobby (knitting, quilting) blog, sports blog, or "My Struggles with Some Disease" blog. But the elements of a successful blog transcend theme. Two things come to mind: voice and presentation.

The first, presentation, is a bit like "judging a book by its cover." This blog, for example, with its out-of-the-box Blogger background, fails miserably. (I'll redo the background one of these days; I need to work up something that works with the Rat-Dog, cuz she's poymanent.) Readability is key, so eye-scalding pinks or yellows or twinkly backgrounds aren't suggested. But a nice looking blog stimulates interest, at least for the first time reader. It also can provide a kind of branding, an "Oh, yeah, this blog; this was good" recognition factor.

Of course, it's easy to go overboard--blogs (and webpages) that take too long to load, or are cluttered with animations and Flash (hate Flash). Keep in mind, that for repeat visitors, all those sparkly graphics will get old fast. Also, nothing is more annoying than a blog that "looks" one way, but sounds another. I'm thinking of a particular blog. It has a cool name and snappy graphics and gives off a snarky chick-lit vibe. The content, however, is focused on the blogger's search for spiritual fulfillment or something of the like. Dull and disappointing.

Which leads to the most important and hard to define element of any kind of writing--Voice. An editor at a fantasy writing conference said this about voice: "You either have it or you don't." So what is "voice?" My definition is writing that is brimming with the writer's personality. Usually this includes some humor. Not (necessarily) funny ha-ha humor, but a sense of awareness that the world is an absurd place. (Think Stephen King.) A writer with a great voice can make the dullest topics--e.g. knitting--interesting. Strong voice usually makes use of observations, a bit like the observational humor of comedians.

The opposite, however, is dry wooden writing that sounds a bit like dialogue from the recent Star Wars movies. (PM and AOTC. I haven't seen Revenge of the Sith yet.)

BlogExplosion's been a fun resource for finding interesting voices in BlogVerse. The earned credits/hits for surfing is rather pointless in the long run, though. Most people probably do what I do; give each blog a quick glance and move along quickly unless it really hooks them.

Finished the flash fiction story, got Kristin's feedback. Now on to revising and sending it out. Since I haven't dinked with it for months (as I usually do) I don't hate it yet.



Graphics and Content Copyright © Patricia Kirby 2005