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4 of the best writer’s blogs

Shakespeare probably would have written a blog. Maybe.

I love writer’s blogs.  I know this term should sound redundant to me, because of my “bloggers are writers not just bloggers or maybe they’re both at the same time shut up” spiel. So maybe I should say novelist blogs? Author blogs? Professional-writer blogs? Whatever. Words are hard!

Ha ha! Words aren’t that hard for THIS expert wordsmith. It’s everything else that can be a challenge.

As I was saying. There aren’t enough novelists and writers out there (at least not that I’ve seen) really taking advantage of the blog format, engaging in conversation with their audience and letting themselves be a little (or a lot) looser in their writing. There are notable exceptions, such as Neil Gaiman, whose blog I adore. Here are a few more standouts:

I love Don Miller’s blog for the “About” video alone, but I also love the rest of his site. He’s thoughtful, smart, and funny. Here he is talking about characters and motivation:

A general rule in creating stories is that characters don’t want to change. They must be forced to change. Nobody wakes up and starts chasing a bad guy or dismantling a bomb unless someone forces them to do so. The bad guys just robbed your house and are running off with your last roll of toilet paper, or the bomb is strapped to your favorite cat. It’s that sort of thing that gets a character moving.

I enjoy everything that Pamie Ribon–author, screenwriter, actress, bon vivant (I’m guessing)–writes, but this post, in which she responds to a reader who’s embarrassed about her blog, sent me over the edge into dreamy-eyed, fluttering-my-eyelashes-in-her-direction love:

…here’s the secret I wish someone had told me back when I would get apologetic for being a “web diarist” or an “online journaller” or a “crazy person who writes about herself on the internet”: when you’re really liking what you’re writing, and you’re having fun doing it? That’s probably because you’ve found your voice. You’ve found your connection with the words and the stories. There’s an audience out there hungry for someone who knows how to use her voice. Don’t stifle it because you think you’re supposed to be… what?

Look how alike we think. We’re the same person! Let’s be best friends, Pamie! Come over and sit on my lap! That’s what all my best friends do!

And now let’s talk about Joshilyn Jackson, who is so lovable I almost can’t stand it. I’ve been enamored of Joshilyn and her blog ever since I read a post that included an arrestingly vivid description of one of her pets…grooming himself. Specifically, “luxuriously bathing” (I think it was?) his boyparts. (I just tried to find that post in her archives, so I had to type in some unseemly words. If you see “lick penis” in your search filters, Joshilyn, DO NOT BE FRIGHTENED. Maybe you should be a little frightened.) She’s hilarious but also writes with disarming candor about her, how shall we say, sometimes turbulent emotional state. Which I can relate to ALL TOO WELL.

I am going to commit, vehemently, with Dustin Hoffman method-actor “yes I did live in a crawl space and eat only hamster bedding for 9 days to prepare for my role as a termite” level dedication, to doing ALL THE THINGS I do when I am happy, with the thought that then Mr. Body Chemistry (never a deep thinker, that one) will be tricked into thinking I AM happy and releasing the right cheerful whatnots into my bloodstream, so that I will be bio-chemically surprised by the abatement of The Big Tiresome Sad I Am Already Bored Of Having. (TBTSIALBOH)

Think of it as….Muscle memory for the soul. And you know what? I have STRONG and well established happy muscles. I have been using them quite regularly for YEARS now.

Also, I have tried this method before on other problems, and it produced good results. It works. (And here I had to physically restrain myself from saying “if you work it.” But I did. You should give me a cookie.)

Joshilyn is so lovable and, well, goofy that I was taken aback when I read her books, NOT THAT I DID NOT THINK THEY WOULD BE GOOD, but they are SO good. Like, I couldn’t read one chapter and then put one down. I had to forsake food and sleep until the book was done. And then I’d run outside and try to find another one. Like that. She’s awfully, awfully good.

Finally, I love Nathan Bransford’s blog. As a former agent as well as author, he’s got some excellent practical advice, like how to format your manuscript (18 POINT COMIC SANS! RIGHT, NATHAN? PLUS ALL CAPS FOR EMPHASIS!) and what agents do (take you out to lunch! Duh!). I especially like his advice on “spaghetti agents”:

What’s a spaghetti agent? Well, it’s a term I made up. Basically, you know that phrase throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks?

That’s a spaghetti agent. They sign up a bunch of writers even when they’re unsure about a project, they throw the manuscripts at publishers, and they see what sticks.

The problem for writers is that since spaghetti agents will send out projects even when they might be on the fence, they may be sending out projects that aren’t quite ready. And in a competitive publishing landscape, it pays for a project to be as ready as humanly possible.

Go read you some Nathan! He’s smart and funny and not at all condescending to the beginners out there.

What are your favorite authorly blogs? Share with the whole class!

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