Step 5: Write!

We’ve finally come to the very core of blogging your book: your writing. Steps 1-4 would all count for nothing if you can’t do Step 5 right, and I’m actually wondering why I placed Writing as Step 5, and not the first one. A mistake on my end, certainly – writing should begin way before you even purchase a hosting plan.

Why?

Writing a novel or a book requires some degree of planning. How much really depends on how you work – some authors plan for months before hand, making sure every facet of the book is tightly plotted together, and others justpens.jpg create a loose outline to follow, which works because of the genre they’re writing in.

Blogging your book works pretty much the same way, only now you’re be posting up installations of your novel and getting feedback in the process. And so the planning stage is made even more vital – your work is ever changing, ever improving – and it’s exposed. If you do want to create something good be sure to be at least 5 chapters ahead – this allows you to make major corrections behind the scenes, without affecting your posting consistency.

Of course, this post assumes you’re working on a novel purely for this medium, and not blogging an already written manuscript.

How does blook writing differ from manuscript writing?

In 3 major ways.

1. You need shorter chapters/installations/episodes
Nobody will read through a 20 page chapter all on the net (read this). You’ll need to slice and dice your writing and post up short, interesting pieces. Richard from Undead Flowers has a unique formula that works: 300 words per episode. Very good stuff.

2. You need to be consistent
This doesn’t mean just in posting frequency. It also means consistency in writing style, in your ability to entertain, in creating and fulfilling reader expectations. Though I must admit posting frequency does play a big part – I’ve witnessed first hand how erratic posting on any kind of blog will dampen readership and feed subscribers. This is perhaps the biggest difference from writing a manuscript that you keep under your desk with writing a blook – you’re under constant expectation to deliver, deliver, deliver.

3. You need to create drugs
Or rather you’ll need to draw the reader in, to keep him going from one chapter to the next. Writing a blook will force you to go for hooks and cliffhangers at the end of episodes, preferably starting from the very first one. You can’t do much exposition, be it on your characters or on the setting – in fact much of your character building will have to be in the form of actions and dialogue, not descriptions that take up whole pages.

The world your story takes place (if it is different from the one we live in) would have to be very carefully explained – not in one huge chunk, but slowly, over the space of a few episodes and through your characters. Characters are the focus in blook writing: if you fail to create a connection with the reader early on your story is pretty much dead (which is true for all novels, really).

Ray Rhamey talks more about exposition in blook writing here, if you’re interested to read up on it. But I’ll talk more about this some other time.

Feedback

Having a commenting policy on your blook would be an ethical thing to do – while it isn’t likely that your blook will spark off a heated argument that spans the blogosphere it wouldn’t hurt to outline what your readers can and cannot say. Take a look at the Huffington Post’s Comment Policy – the guidelines there are simple and easy to understand. Plus, it provides a clear picture of where the reader stands while browsing the blog:

We never censor comments based on political or ideological point of view. We only delete those comments that are abusive, off-topic, use excessive foul language, or include ad hominem attacks. We pre-moderate comments on our blog posts and post-moderate comments on news stories.

There are a few scenarios in which a comment might be blocked:

  1. A comment is abusive, off-topic, uses excessive foul language, or includes an ad hominem attack
  2. If a commenter has previously posted comments that are abusive, off-topic, used excessive foul language, or include ad hominem attacks, a Huff Post moderator may decide to ban the commenter’s IP address. This means the abusive commenter is banned from commenting on the site in the future, even if the later comments are not abusive. We ban IPs because the sheer volume of comments makes it too time consuming to individually delete comments written by someone with a pattern of abuse.
  3. If a commenter shares a computer or IP address with someone who has written abusive comments, it could result in a comment being blocked even if the commenter has never posted anything abusive. In the future, we plan on introducing a user log-in feature that will help mitigate this sort of situation.

This is of course more suited to a political blog and adjustments will have to be made: whether or not you allow comments like “This story sucks LMAO” is entirely up to you.

Writing (in) Style

There are many facets to being a good writer. I can’t possibly include everything about writing here since there’s so much to cover: everything from Why Adverbs Suck to Character Building – writing is a never ending journey of finding your own style and then putting it to good use by creating works of art. But there are basics we can all learn, and there are guides to writing well online.

The best guide I’ve found so far is Fifty (50!) Tools which can help you in Writing, which in itself must have been a pain to brainstorm and write. It’s a pretty comprehensive list – covering everything from adverbs to how to take criticism – I’d recommend it to any budding writer, whether he plans to publish a novel or just write a good entrance essay.

Another place I go to for writing guides is John Baker’s blog. He has a Learning To Write category exploring writing, and while much of it doesn’t read like a regular How To tutorial it is very good stuff.

And then, of course, there’s Flogging The Quill. Which is Ray Rhamey’s blog on the art and craft of compelling storytelling.

I like to think of writing as an adventure. You win some, you lose some. You look back and realize all the blunders you made (did I just leave that coil of rope on a ledge?! NO!!), and you learn from them. And the best thing about it?

It’ll never end.
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This post is part of the Ultimate Blook Guide series. If you enjoyed this post you may subscribe to Novelr’s RSS feed.

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Category: Writing Web Fiction
  • http://www.ohouse.ca Gloria Hildebrandt

    I agree that you win some and lose some. Some of your/my writing is great, some not so interesting. I also believe that we don’t write just what we want to write, we write the novels that we HAVE to write. That is, I might have an idea for a hugely exciting story, but unless it grabs me personally and becomes something that I use to work out my own obsessions, the novel might dry up and die. I believe we are somehow “given” the stories that we can write to completion. With my blog/blook novel Stonyfields, I decided to write about everything that I found fascinating at the time. Characters started to stand up, and fabulous gardens, and an old house to renovate, and sexual attraction and more…and I discovered the story that was waiting to be told. I didn’t so much intellectually craft it as reveal what was there. Did I win or lose? I don’t know. Some readers say I did. But I went through the whole process. And it was indeed an adventure.

  • http://www.novelr.com Eli James

    Well said Gloria. I’m still reading through Stonyfields – not so easy after my absense from the web threw everything into uproar (50 emails and this ongoing series and etc) – but the first thing that struck me about Stonyfields was the passion in it.

    I’m not so sure about the ‘stories we HAVE to write’ part – maybe the stories we are destined to write?

    I try not to think about where my ideas come from. I just write. And I love it.

    May the pen be with you, Gloria.

    ;P

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  • http://BlookingSuccess Michelle E

    Personally, I took a workshop that stated that blooking was a tool for when you publish your book. You can send stats about who has viewed your book and so forth. It’s also a promotional tool. I don’t know if I’ll take it to the finished product online, but the first or second draft maybe…because my first draft if like my outline – it’s going to change.