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View Diary: Hints for new diarists, or don't make the mistakes I made (102 comments)

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  •  Good advice (6+ / 0-)

    I got lucky-my first diary here was community spotlighted and ended up getting over 800 recommendations. It was this one:

    Glenn Beck-Consider Yourself On Notice

    The reasons why I think this diary received the response it did-One, the title. Instead of giving it a title like "Glenn Beck is a horrible asshole" or "Look at what these crazy right wingers are saying at Glenn Becks website" I framed it as a direct, confrontational style message to him. That was a good hook. Doing something unusual and eye catching with a title often works quite well

    Secondly-My opening. This is how I began the diary:

    Pull up a chair Glenn, and have a seat. Make yourself comfortable. I would like to show you something...
    This immediately thrusts the reader into a scene, if you will. The reader imagines (at least I did) Glenn Beck sitting down in a chair and preparing to look at something. There is immediate tension. Tension is important.

    The next thing I did was instead of taking quotes and copying and pasting them from his site, I took screengrabs of them-underlining what I thought was relevent. Visual stuff like this is always good.

    From there, I launch into the angry screed. Angry screeds are a lot of fun to write and read. My tone is a bit over the top-but that's OK. As long as you don't go too overboard, part of writing is creating drama.

    Then I have more pictures-pictures of the kids who were murdered. This is an emotional hook, obviously. It puts the horrible comments into context.

    Anyways, that's why the first diary worked IMO. I have had pretty good success ever since. One thing I've noticed is that the diaries I spend the most time writing often get a fraction of the attention and recommendations that the furious screeds do. Two of my highest recommended diaries "Fuck Joe Paterno" and "I don't care if you're just thirteen" were written in less than an hour. By contrast-"I did what I was supposed to do-the martyrdom of Jenni Lake" took me an entire day (literally) and more or less went over like a lead balloon.

    If I had any advice, it would be write what is in your heart, but also write something YOU would want to read. When I'm done with a diary, I usually walk away for about 10 minutes and then come back and read it. If it holds my interest-only then do I post it. If not, I edit until it does.

    You must work-we all must work-for a world that is worthy of its children. - Pablo Casals. Please support TREE Climbers, our 501(c)(3) for victims and survivors of sexual abuse and exploitation.

    by SwedishJewfish on Wed May 09, 2012 at 09:00:42 PM PDT

    •  Excellent advice (5+ / 0-)

      I think you've pinpointed why my US to 1865 series is so completely hit and miss.  "Pro-life? NO! Anti-choice please" and "This is for you, Its  the Supreme Court Stupid," took less than 30 minutes to produce, as did "Congratulations, Intolerant Methodists."  The US to 1865 stuff comes from my lecture notes, and I have a feeling I diary what I think is important and interesting.  I'll see if I can make the Alexander Hamilton - Aaron Burr duel interesting, and, if not, then all of them will be diaries that the Genealogy and Family History group can connect to.

      My problem is that all my writing holds my interest.  I'll learn.

      -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

      by Dave in Northridge on Wed May 09, 2012 at 09:23:44 PM PDT

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      •  I just read (and rec'd) your latest installment (4+ / 0-)

        in that. I love history diaries.

        I'm working on a history series right now actually-this was my first installment:

        Opening Pandora's Box-The History of Sexual Trauma (Part 1)

        Now, that diary was actually originally titled something like "Augustine & The Age of Hysteria"-something rather obscure. And it didn't get much attention at all. Were it not Community Spotlighted, it would have dropped right off the recent list-which would have been a huge blow since I put countless hours into putting it together (as I'm sure you do with your history diaries)

        So I changed the title-and it got a much better response after that.

        It's really all about the hook-and with non-fiction, historical writing I've learned a good technique is to start with an individual characterization of one of the subjects, and then step back a bit and start talking about the history.

        You must work-we all must work-for a world that is worthy of its children. - Pablo Casals. Please support TREE Climbers, our 501(c)(3) for victims and survivors of sexual abuse and exploitation.

        by SwedishJewfish on Wed May 09, 2012 at 09:35:28 PM PDT

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        •  Another thing that I think works (5+ / 0-)

          esp. with longer diaries like that, is to break them into small sections, including headlines. It's the same concept behind writing a book in chapters. It's a visual reminder to the reader that the story you are telling has movement, it compells people to keep reading.

          I read this book called "On Writing" by Sol Stein. It's written by an author-editor and his advice is incredible. I hated editing too, until I read that book and understood how to do it and why it was important. Editing is like cutting away dead tissue to save a vital organ.

          You must work-we all must work-for a world that is worthy of its children. - Pablo Casals. Please support TREE Climbers, our 501(c)(3) for victims and survivors of sexual abuse and exploitation.

          by SwedishJewfish on Wed May 09, 2012 at 09:41:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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