June 17, 2008 by Tracey S. Rosenberg
Michael Agger at Slate questions how we read online. I definitely structure my blog entries differently – shorter paragraphs, mainly – and I have always adhered to the ‘avoid MySpace’ philosophy, but I tend not to use bold that often. Maybe I should.
I did once meet someone who thought that perhaps humans were going to adapt to read things that were written on vertical surfaces, rather than horizontal ones, but I think that’s stretching it.
As for blogs not having sustainable value – well, I do this primarily for my own amusement, and most of my hits are a) a few friends who regularly read this or b) random web searches.
Meanwhile, Nicholas Carr at the Atlantic wonders whether Google is making us stupid, but I didn’t read it ’cause he used long paragraphs and no bolded words. *grin*
Oh, and a book – namely, Passing the Word: Writers on their Mentors, edited by Jeffrey Skinner and Lee Martin. The book is a hybrid in that it’s partly a series of essays by writers talking about their mentors, and partly examples of their writing. I’m not sure that worked for me, because while it was interesting to see the writing if it had been mentioned in the essay (or was about the mentor), in other cases, random pieces of writing didn’t seem to have much relationship to anything else.
But I very much appreciated the advice given by John L’Heureux, in Erin McGraw’s essay ‘Complicate. Simplify.’ As she puts it:
“Every scene needs to build, to move the action forward,” he said, and then added advice he often gave in class: “Complicate the motive. Simplify the action.”
I suspect my actions are pretty simple already (and not always in a good way), but that first bit really made me want to reread my manuscript and see how I can add depth.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, McGraw’s story was my favorite piece in the collection.