Category Archives: On Writing

Comments and tips regarding the art of writing.

How to Choose an Image for Your Blog

Choose the Right Image for Your Blog

An exciting, beautiful or provocative image goes a long way when it is added to a blog. Once you have written your content, you need to choose an image to go with it. Selecting the right image is not just an art, it is a technology. The right picture should have something to do with your text.


The Wrong Picture for Your Blog

CatGlassesI once happened upon a dynamic picture of a breaching shark. The blog article was about dogs –or bears? I don’t remember because once I realized the website owner had betrayed my interest, I left. Your picture should lend directly to your subject matter. It is OK to make it artistic or implied. I wrote a blog series on writers block in which all the images were photographs of dirt roads. The implied idea was that the readers should solve their writers’ block and continue down the road. The images implied the idea and, since they all had similar images, the series was tied together with a theme. Take the time to consider the subject matter of your blog entry. Choose an appropriate image to go with it.


Use Your Own Photos on Your Blog

New York Christmas LightsYour personal photo album is a great place to look for images. You own the photos, freeing you to use them in any way you see fit. If you need a photo of a door in this age of digital photography, go out find one that suits you purpose. It is quite easy to take a ten-minute trip to get the photo you need.


Use Free Images from the Internet on Your Blog

GuySmokeEgoIf photography is not your suit, the Internet is full of photos. However, many of the photos on the Internet are not really there for you to use as you please. You can capture these images in a variety of ways that are less than scrupulous. If you want respect on the web, don’t use underhanded means to get your photos. Search out photos by entering “free photo sharing,” “free images,” “free jpg,” or other search terms. You can enter thousands of alternatives to find your free photos. You will find that not all “free” images are actually free. Leave those sites and keep looking elsewhere.


Use Copy Image Location Feature to Collect Blog Images

Florida trail signA third alternative is to use the copy image location feature. Find the photo you want online and right click on it. A box should appear that includes copy image location. Paste this text into a document temporarily -or use it immediately, if you know how. Most blogging programs have the ability to insert images via this method. You are usually off the hook for copyrights because you have created a link back to the original website. Website stats are based on this type of link. By using copy image location, you are actually helping the site where you found the image. Naturally, if the site specifies that it doesn’t want you to use an image, don’t do it! Too many other images exist on the web to justify using dirty tactics.

Add Images to Your Blog

Make Your Web Site Interesting

Statue of LibertyWell-written text on a page may draw in a site visitor from a Internet search. Once they arrive, the goal is to keep them there. You want them to read your text. You want them to browse your page and the rest of the site. Very often, you want them to make a purchase. Although text is important, images are also vital. To make a page truly interesting to the visitor, you should include pictures.


Immediate Interest in Your Web Site

Madison AvenueWhen a visitor arrives at your page, they should see more than text. An entire page of nothing but text can intimidate or discourage. When the page loads, an image should be there to greet your visitor. While text may keep them there for a while, they must first be interested enough to read your content. If your page does not give them a good impression right away, they might not give you reading time. An image creates an impression instantly.


The Right Image Will Make a Web Page Successful

New York SubwayChoose your images well. Whether it is a graph, a cartoon or a photo, you should take time to make sure your picture is interesting. You should also make sure it is relevant. Don’t make the mistake of choosing and exciting image that has nothing to do with your content. Visitors will feel betrayed and will most likely leave before reading your message. With the right mix of interesting and relevant, your reader will be hooked immediately and will probably stick around to absorb the remainder of your message.

How to Find Subjects for Your Blog

Why Blog More?

Why would anyone need to go looking for blog subjects? The answer is that blogging has become business. Blogging draws in hits to websites. Businesses everywhere are using blogging to augment their advertising campaigns. People find blogs when searching for subjects online. Blogs can advertise products or simply lead visitors to a website. Blogs with advertising attached can earn income for the bloggers as well. Blogging can equal income. That means that people want to blog, and blog a lot. That makes finding subjects for a blog important.


Blog What You Know

Writing what you know may be the very best way to blog. When you know your subject well, you can write about it fluently. Choose something in which you have experience. If you are a stay at home mom, then write about raising children. If you sit around reading romance books, then review the books on your blog. Work experience makes good content for blogs, as does travel experience. If you’ve done it, you can write about it.


Research Your Blog

Brooklyn BridgeResearch is another great way to find content. Did a news story interest you? Find out more from several sources and then blog about your opinions or findings. Naturally, you would never copy content. Additionally, be sure to cite your references to legitimize your content. Put in links to your sources. It adds credibility to your blog and might also help your search engine statistics.


Two Hour Blog

You can also pick a topic of interest and then hit the library –or web references. You will have to decide beforehand how much work you want to do to get your information. However, if you spend hours researching, you very likely will come up with enough information for a dozen blog entries. Typically, you can get a page of content out of one hour of research.

Enhance Fictional Character Speech

Varying Fictional Character Voice

ModelMudFaceYour character has a look, a location and a social structure surrounding him or her, but have you considered your character’s voice? Aside from an accent and choice of vocabulary, you can add to your characters by manipulating the complexity of their speech.


Differentiate Character Dialogues


Choose voices for these two.

Do all your characters have the same intelligence and education? They shouldn’t. You can display differences through choice of vocabulary by using big words for the smarter characters and small words for the not so bright ones. However, another way to demonstrate character differences might be complexity of speech. This is subtler than a character’s accent, word choice, and mannerisms. In fact, it is a characteristic your readers will probably not even notice –on the surface. However, such additions add character depth.


How to Manipulate Complexity of Speech with Fictional Characters

Length of sentences is one way to easily relate the complexity of a character’s mind. An unsophisticated character will use shorter sentences and the vernacular. You might try describing longer pauses before the character answers. A simple character will answer, “no,” where a complex character might use, “I can’t say.”


BarSmokeGirlCharacters with complex minds should speak more eloquently. Their thoughts should sound well formed and their vocabulary should reflect their education and intelligence.


You might try rating character intelligence on a scale from one to ten. You can do the same for education and complexity of thought. Combine them into one score or use all three. Once you have the character nailed down, you might have an easier time imagining how he or she should express thoughts.

Novel Versus Novella

Originally posted April 2012

What Is the Difference Between a Novel and a Novella?

Once again the question came up regarding the difference between a novel and a novella. Unfortunately, the query may never truly die away because the answer is not clear cut. Although complexity of subject matter can make a difference, it most often boils down to how many words the book has. No official word count exists that describes when a novella becomes a novel. Few Internet searches I have undertaken have produced so many varied answers.


When Does a Novella Become a Novel?

An article in the Huffington Post gave lengths of some famous books. A few started down near 30,000 words and, at the top, War and Peace rang in at over 500,000. A website that celebrates short books set the limit at 80,000 words. A Wikipedia entry pegged the word length minimum for a novel near 50,000 words while a related article on the Nebula Award drew the line at 40,000. Most online sources reviewed suggest that books become novels somewhere between 40,000 and 60,000 words.


Is Word Count Important?

Whether word count is important depends upon the author and the publishing circumstances. Some publishers set guidelines for word counts. With digital media on the rise, cost for paper is less of an issue and newer writers might face fewer roadblocks when it comes to the number of words in their novels. It might be a good idea to check into books within your genre for general guidelines as well as the lengths of successfully published books.

Persist at Writing Your Novel

Originally posted March 2012

Write Your Novel

Old typewriterMany of us have a novel inside. Cast aside the comments from naysayers, both those whom you know and those inside your head. If you have a novel inside, you can bring it out.

Here is a quote from Calvin Coolidge that reminded me of the efforts we put into writing.

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence.

Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent.

Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.

Education will not; the world is full of educated failures.

Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”


Keep Writing

Keep going and you will have your novel.

To quote Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never, never give up.”

Why Good Grammar Is Important to Your Blog

Originally posted February 2012

Website Visitors Want Respect

Visitors to a website want to be treated with respect. The best way to show respect to your visitors is to have your website in good order. Links should work, images should be relevant to the subject matter, and your writing should show that you took the time to make sure it was right. If you rush through your posts just to get them out there, they will probably contain typos and other errors. When visitors come across these mistakes, they will make one or more conclusions:

  • The writer was careless
  • The writer does not know how to spell
  • The writer does not understand the English language
  • The writer is in a hurry to stuff content onto the site
  • The writer is unprofessional

None of those conclusions helps the website retain visitors. Visitors may spend less time browsing the site or be less likely to return.


Show your site visitors the respect they deserve. Correctly written content does matter.

SEO 101 for Bloggers

Originally posted Jan 11th 2012

What Is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. A search engine like Google, Yahoo, Ask or a number of others gets a request to find information. Users enter search words into the blank provided and hit enter. If you have surfed the Internet, you have done this. The search engine, which is a program, scans vast amounts of data and sends back what is most likely to match the words you entered. It is a list of sites with a title at the top, a website address below that and also some text from the site. The search engine used all of those pieces of information to find that site. It used a lot of other factors too. The programs are designed to consider a surprising amount of information about the sites chosen. So what are search engines looking for?


Titles Are Very Important for SEO

The title of your blog is very important for SEO. Make the name of your website relevant to what is in it. If you are going to talk about the carpentry, don’t name your blog, “Life on a Boat.” Give it a title with the word carpentry in it. The same goes for the title of your individual blogs. If you are keeping an online diary, “My Thought for the Day” might work as a title. However, if you want to talk about SEO, you had better put SEO in the title. In fact, refine your title as carefully as you can. If your blog is about SEO for beginners, create a title that lets web surfers know right away. If it is an SEO blog for beginners who are writing blogs, call it SEO 101 for Bloggers, unless that is already taken.


Headings for Paragraphs Help SEO

If you look at this blog post, you will see that each paragraph has a heading in bold letters. Search engines recognize when words are in bold, italics or underlined. There is also a setting called “heading.” If you know how to set your titles as headings, do so. Otherwise, make your headings in bold print, at the very least. When you give each paragraph a heading, you give search engines just one more easy way to find you. If a person isn’t looking for what is in the title of your blog, they might enter something similar to one of your headings. Your blog might show up on their screen because of it. A long entry with no headings will make it less likely for Internet surfers to find you.


Write Relevant Content for SEO

If you are writing a blog about good grammar, don’t mention what you had for breakfast. It will not help your SEO. Even worse, you might wind up on searches for breakfast food. You will notice I have mentioned woodworking and morning meals here in this blog. I made sure to counter-balance those off-subject words by mentioning SEO plenty of times. When a search engine scans this blog entry, the body of the blog will tell the program that I am talking about SEO. Staying on subject helps search engines distribute your blogs to the right potential visitors.


More to Know About SEO

This blog has given you basic guidelines to getting your blog found and properly distributed by search engines. These steps are only a part of the bigger picture but they are a very good start. To optimize your search engine results, be sure to follow these suggestions when you blog. They go a long way and are very easy to do.