Blogging as Storytelling and Blogging Tips from an Unprofessional

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Dewey at Weekly Geeks asked us what other forms of storytelling we enjoy. I certainly love reading books, stories, poems, nonfiction, etc. Some people are discussing theater and that is certainly on my list: the performance of great literature. I’ve never been a fan of television (we don’t even have one right now), and I don’t usually enjoy movies.

In a world besides books, however, I think the story telling I would rely on is blogging. I’m not talking about the world of book reviews online, necessarily. What I really appreciate is personal and family blogs. I’m not going to link to any from here for privacy’s sake, but I certainly love writing about my daily challenges on my personal blog where my family can comment and communicate with me. I love reading about my sister’s and cousins’ lives via an online medium. It’s by reading about their daily lives that I feel connected to them. As a stay-at-home mom, that is the other storytelling I enjoy: the silly things their 2-year-old said, the comments we have for each other about dealing with life. Blogging provides a format to share, communicate, and relate.

What aspect of blogging do you enjoy most?

Blogging Tips

Trish over at Hey Lady! Whatcha Reading? and Matthew at That’s the Book have shared some blogging tips. Trish says no one tagged her but she decided to share anyway. As a reader of blogs, I am going to do the same and share some tips about blogging. I’m still very much a beginner at blogging for the world—my other blogs are all personal—so I’m still learning.

1. Keep it short. I am not going to read 1,000-word essays, although I might skim them. Get to your point. (I learned this by reading other people’s blogs. I don’t read other’s posts if they are long; I realize now you won’t read mine if they are long, and some of my first posts were very long.)

2. Matthew said to make it personal. I agree to a point. When reviewing a book, don’t quote me huge passages from the book’s back cover or Amazon’s summary. If I wanted that, I’d read the back cover or Amazon, not your blog. Tell me what you think, in your words. And I don’t care about the whole plot—just tell me why I should be interested in reading it or why you are really glad you read it. At the same time, I read lots of blogs in a number of categories (personal blogs, reading blogs, cooking blogs, etc.). Don’t tell me your life history. Share your life as long as it relates to what we are discussing. You read because you like what you read. Why do you like it? Share your personality with me as much as it relates to the subject matter.

3. Trish said to make post titles interesting. I would suggest that post titles tell us about what the post is actually about. I’d prefer a post titled with the book title and author to something vague.

What do you think? Do you read long posts? Do you like an entire book summary? What do you want post titles to be?

These are my preferences, but I’d be interested to hear whether others in the blogging world agree or not.

Reviewed on May 26, 2008

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  • I tend to babble on sometimes, if it’s something I’m really interested in. I have both a personal blog, and a books blog, but my books blog has got a lot more love lately, and I’ve started putting more personal details in there. As for book reviews _ I want to know what the book’s about (briefly) and then what the blogger thought of it so I know if it’s something I want to read. 🙂
    Babbling again …

  • Hi! I agree with you on most points… I have diffficulty rrading very long posts (although I admire who writes them); and sometimes I also find it difficult to summarize the plot in my own words. But I wouldn’t want an entire book summary, because otherwise I would be totally spoilered and wouldn’t want to read the book.

    And I agree with you that simple titles with the title of the book and name of the author are the best.

  • Yeah, I agree. I have trouble with #2. Sometimes I think I’m keeping too much of myself back in my blog, and then I’ll reveal something and think I’m being TOO personal. It’s hard to find a balance, for me, anyway.

    Also, as far as length, I don’t mind long posts if they’re organized. Like this one, it’s not terribly long, but you’ve got it divided into two parts, and part two is numbered. That, I think, pulls the reader from one thing to another in a way that long, unbroken paragraphs can’t.

  • @Dew: balance between personal and nonpersonal is hard on public sites! @Maree: I think that’s the great thing about the web–there is a place for us to babble. I guess I’m just realizing that I can’t expect people to read all of my babble–and I have plenty of it too! @Alessandra: A summary is an interesting balance of not saying enough and saying too much, huh? Thanks for your comments!

  • I have both a book blog and a personal blog. My book blog is fairly impersonal but I’ve been trying to liven it up a little more lately. I also try to keep my reviews pretty short. When I read a book review on a blog, I tend to skim it because I’m afraid of reading spoilers–and I HATE spoilers! I know that my personal blog is usually only read by friends and family so I don’t stress over it quite as much. I’ve only been blogging for about 8 months (I honestly didn’t know what a blog was before then) and it has become a big part of my life. It’s amazing the things that can be learned from other people through the blogosphere. In ways, my self-confidence has improved because of blogging.

  • @Kim: I know what you mean about self-confidence and blogging (and I have a few blogs). But I guess what I’m also realizing is that just because no one comments on a post doesn’t mean I’m worthless–I have to be careful not to let my self-confidence be too connected to the blogs. @trish: I also skip to the bottom of book reviews a lot. I don’t want to know what it’s about. Case in point: I heard Book Thief was good and there are tons of reviews about it. Because I hadn’t actually read any of the entire reviews, I was pleasantly surprised when I started reading it because there were all sorts of plot elements I didn’t know about. I’m sure they were mentioned in reviews.

  • I agree with your comment on keeping posts short, especially since I hadn’t really thought about that before! Going hand in hand, I think it’s also important to use a lot of pictures or other graphic elements, and things like lists and bullet points, to make posts easier to skim since people tend to skim stories when reading online. Good post for Weekly Geeks!


    #1 – I hate long posts too. Seriously, do people think I have forever and a day? I’m BUSY, which means unless your cracking me up, I’m skimming long posts (at best).

    #2 – I don’t like long summaries of books, either. In fact, when I see a book review, I usually read the first sentence and then skip to the bottom. I want to know if you liked it, not a huge post telling me what it’s about. (note to self, must be better at this myself!)

    #3 – I agree. What I didn’t mean was to make book review titles interesting. I don’t want “East of Eden Is a Classic That Hits it Right On the Mark”. It’s just too much to read. But I also don’t want, “What I Did This Weekend.”


  • I totally agree with not connecting self-confidence with comments. I try not to worry about how many comments I get but of course it is nice to get them. I used to be a real lurker and as I’ve started making more comments, it’s helped me feel more involved and more confident.

    I’ve been learning a lot through this week’s Weekly Geeks. Thanks for all the great insights.

  • @Kim: I hadn’t thought that pictures would make it easier for some–I have never thought them essential to a book review, and when the text wrapping is off they look silly to me. But I’ll have to keep that in mind in the future because if others are looking for them, I could make my posts more appealing. Thanks for your comment!

  • You know, most of my book reviews hit a thousand words. But that’s because once I’m done with the review, I type out all my favourite passages from the book. I don’t expect other people to read them: they’re there so that I always have them! 🙂

    I do, however, write much longer reviews about books that I either loved or have mixed emotions about. I don’t spend a lot of time on plots (and I avoid giving away any kind of spoilers), but I usually discuss what seemed the most important aspect of the book-theme, characters, setting, etc. And I often blockquote relevent passages from the book to illustrate what I’m talking about. I try to make sure my paragraphs are broken up, and I use pictures to help make it look less-texty. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with bolding some sentences, so I might do that more in the future. But I won’t be shortening my reviews; I look back at my early posts, and they’re all really short, and now I want to know more about what I thought. I love the book blogging community, but ultimately my blog is for me, a record of my reading experience, and if that makes me lose some readers, so be it. Sometimes, I write out all of my thoughts on a book and it’s a short review, and that’s fine. But other times, I want the freedom to talk about everything I found interesting!

    When I read other blogs, I really enjoy longer reviews that explore the book, instead of just a couple sentences saying whether they liked it or not. If I wanted just that, I could go look at the star ratings on Amazon. But I agree that I don’t like it when people quote the back of the book or the amazon summary. I don’t read it, lol.

    I just realised this comment has gotten waaay too long; I’m probably more defensive than I should be. lol I guess this just made me think about *why* I blog the way that I do!

  • @Eva: I like the fact that you write your reviews for yourself. I think that’s what it’s supposed to be. You say “I don’t spend a lot of time on plots” and I love that about a good review: I think a good review is about what is the aspect that made the reader like or dislike the book.

    I certainly didn’t mean to put you or anyone on the defensive. I really do appreciate a good review, long or short. I guess I was think in general about reviews that quote from the Amazon summary and then quote the back cover and then quote from five pages of the book. It’s overkill and it’s boring (to me, at least).

    In reading other people’s blogging tips, I’ve found I’ve done the same: consider more carefully *why* I’m writing what I do and *what* I wish other people would do to make it easier. I’m pretty new to the book blogging world.

  • I didn’t mean *you* got me on the defensive, more that I got myself on the defensive. And it’s always good to think about things. 🙂 I’ve been having fun exploring your blog: it looks so professional!

  • I do prefer some type of summary of the book as long as it doesn’t give too much away. Even though I do skim the summary it does give me enough information to know whether or not I’d like to read it or not. And I have been guilty of occasionally quoting the book jacket when I can’t come up with the right words. I don’t do this all the time but anticipate that it won’t be the last. I do like reading passages as well. I’ve read books based upon passages that people have chosen to highlight.

    Completely agree about post titles. I’d rather it be straight informative rather than cutesy and vague.

    And while keeping it to the topic that you’re talking about, I like life history (again, as long as it’s on topic). I think that’s what set a blogger apart from professional reviews. It’s a way to share a part of yourself with the community and makes your blog personal while informative.

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