“Peril”

I felt like I found “the One” moments ago.

Reading through a slew of blog posts I overwhelmed my browser with, I came upon a word that caused whiplash in my eye sockets. Well, almost that dramatic. Once I read the word “peril”, my mind’s eye created a quick crack of close thunder in a very dark, scary place. That place was probably my own head, but I digress.

goldfinch

Sometimes a tiny word in the right place can provide very enjoyable communication for the reader. I wish there was a database containing all of these words, but alas, these word preferences really vary from person to person.

Asking one of my sisters what word gave her the “chills”, she told me, “clock”, an everyday noun.

“Clock” is indeed a satisfying word. It really perfectly captures the staccato of the ticking hand. It doesn’t do me any favors when I’m reading, but that’s the ol’ variation from person to person at play.

Dear “peril”…where will you be next? Part of the excitement for me is not seeing you too often. While I hope to be at peace tonight, maybe you will pop up in a future blog post and perfectly convey the dangers of abusing SEO tactics once more.

 

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The BuzzFeed Writing Evolution

Depending on how old you are, the website “Buzzfeed” may bring a different collection of thoughts and feelings  to mind. There is sort of a trichotomy among millennials. Different people of slightly different age groups remember this website in different ways.

Stage One

BuzzFeed.com first emerged in 2006. The site was a different animal back in the day. It has remained basically the same idea, but, um…Check the archives if you would like a better idea. There’s even a disclaimer in these baby articles: “This is class post from BuzzFeed’s earlier days and may not represent BuzzFeed’s current editorial standards.” I’ll say!

A basic frame of there “articles” was a linked a list of articles from various sources related to a certain viral topic with a couple of introductory sentences. Humble beginnings.

Stage Two

By 2010, Buzzfeed had grown in popularity and was known as junk “journalism”. It had earned a reputation for plagiarizing, though at the time, no lawsuits were made. The difference in this stage was that there was more content, and articles, even though they were based on other content, were a little more substantial. It was, however, still a mishmash of photos and quotes and explanations, with a very similar creativity level of gluing a precut wooden bird to a premade wooden birdhouse.

glue

Stage Three

Someone was finally sued for plagiarism. BuzzFeed exploded into more diverse content. Not only were original articles written, but original videos were made as well. The site still caters to a younger crowd and “clickbait” titles are reigning freely.

So do you want to write for BuzzFeed? Is it “real” journalism? In stage three, why not? In several years, maybe everyone will have forgotten its early Internet days anyway. And maybe the Reddit/BuzzFeed conflict will be resolved. (I will save the details for another day). There are still many websites that operate at stage one or two, and I have written for one. Just make sure that if you do write for a viral website, you can cite sources.

How do you define “real” journalism, and do you think the distinction is necessary?

“It was a Dark and Stormy Night…” Part II

Part I for those who missed it

Maybe you have decided that if people just want cheap thrills in their reading, you are going to cater to that. The following points are something you should consider before stringing cliches like beads to create a new story.

It Has Probably Been Done Before

You won’t be the first person to create a thrilling murder mystery, a forbidden romance, commentary on a political situation or a summary of interesting content. For every thrilling idea that occurs to you, there are probably thousands of books and articles already using it.

However, readers seem to greatly enjoy reading several books or articles with the same plots of premises. I know I do. I can read a hundred articles online about certain types of birds because I have owned them as pets. But I’m not going to read the same set of facts over and over. I like it when writers bring in their individual stories to help explain points or add a dash of humor.

Don’t underestimate how a focus on details can make a reader want to be carried along through what is essentially the same hill he’s gone over many times before only with different scenery.

Look at the News

There is a reason why journalistic writing is plain; the pure, newsworthy plot moves everything along and keeps readers engrossed. Despite this, most journalists are still taught to avoid cliches, because people also appreciate a touch of creativity. If a piece with an exciting plot that has the added benefit of being real avoids cliches, that should tell you something.

You Can’t Go Too Crazy

In the pursuit of creating something no one has ever seen, you may get very wild with your story. There are two major points to recognize before trying this.  This mainly applies to fictional works.

Readers Will Lose Interest in a Totally Wild Idea

In a world where anything can happen at any moment, people are not as invested in wondering about what happens next. Additionally, people want to relate to what they read to immerse themselves. That’s why fantasy is a difficult genre for a lot of people to be successful with. If you write a story where a talking eagle rides on the backs of dolphins searching for a sacred pine cone disco ball floating out in sea, you better be one hell of a writer.

eagle

It’s Probably One of the Same Recycled Ideas Anyway

Chances are, no matter how wild your plot gets, you can put it in one of many boxes filled with others of its kind. That eagle story is just a jazzed up version of a classic adventure story in pursuit of an artifact.

These points are why writing skill matters!