Writers Who Write About Writing

It may or may not be true that the vast majority of blogs I follow can be defined as, well, “personal blogs”, which I suppose do not satisfy this blog post assignment! But alas, I do follow a few professional, perhaps more high end appearing blogs with authors out to make a living. Krisnoel is one of these blogs! As a writer, it is no surprise that I read a few writing dedicated blogs just to stay in the loop, and to learn some useful tips. Kris Noel, a blogger based out of Burbank, California, has a knack for gathering a variety of fiction tips and tricks from around the web and depositing them right in one nifty space.

Her posts focus mainly on fiction writing, but span a number of writing genres as well.

Of course many of these tips are original, and written by Kris herself. I have followed her blog for awhile and she always remains active and informational.

This blog is especially useful and relevant to the group, considering we are all here to become better writers. But becoming a better fiction writer, well, that one is up to you.

So if you are ever struggling with characterization, plot points, references or the such, no need to beat yourself up.

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You now know where to look.

 

The Quintessential Blog

Before taking Writing 220, I was overwhelmingly unaware of the vast blogging world. I knew a couple students from my high school who began blogs, but usually was uninterested considering they didn’t provide much substance (one girl posts every day describing what she makes for breakfast or how she “feels” on her way to class – like, who cares?) Anyway, as you can tell, prior to this course I was cynical about blogging. However, after some research and discovery, I’ve realized that blogging can be an outlet for emotion and provide a plethora of advice ranging from fashion to food to how to relax.

The quintessential blog that I have found is called In The Frow. I found this blogger – Victoria – while scrolling through my Instagram feed, particularly noticing her most recent post from a TopShop fashion show during London Fashion Week. After traveling to London and Paris this past summer, I’ve become really interested in European culture and fashion. However, after browsing Victoria’s blog, I realized she provided so much more, ranging from fashion, beauty, life, food, travel, news, and shop. Under the “Life” tab, for example, Victoria has a section entitled “advice” where she has posts about how to relax as well as “reflections” where she gets personal about her own struggles and endeavors.

Don’t get me wrong, I love beauty and fashion. I subscribe to Birchbox and receive beauty samples each month, and may or may not have a slight addiction to online shopping. Victoria’s beauty tricks and tips as well as photos and posts about London Fashion Week are what drew me into her blogging world. She appeals to an audience of women who value their self-care and presentation. But, what keeps me around is her deeper connection with readers on topics such as life – advice and reflections – as well as travel and food. This widens her audience appeal to women who don’t necessarily jump at the chance for new beauty products but are curious about the world and traveling it. Additionally, the ease with which the site can be navigated makes it appealing to readers who have never blogged before but are willing to try it. By providing insights in all these categories in an easy-to-navigate fashion, Victoria or “In the Frow” formulates the quintessential blog, even for a new reader like myself.

 

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What makes a good blog?

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I chose MGoBlog because it’s a wildly successful Michigan sports blog. The authors who work for MGoBlog are well-known if you’re a fan of Michigan sports, and have real personalities that people often connect with (though the authors’ Twitter presence might help their success as well).

I think the class should try to follow MGoBlog for at least a week because you’ll quickly gain familiarity with the style of each writer. It’s also a great source of information if you’re a Michigan sports fan. Considering all of you are Michigan students, I’ll assume that some of you are.

One of MGoBlog’s defining features is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s witty and funny, and I think fans who get tired of reading newspaper-style articles look to MGoBlog for a comedic spin on information. It’s great for fans who want to get multiple perspectives. When you read a newspaper article, it should be unbiased and fairly straightforward. Because MGoBlog is a fan blog, there’s more wiggle room for personality.

 

 

What Is Good Blogging? The New York Times’ “The Lens” and Others

This question is hard to answer, I think, because of the nature of what blogging is. For many people, blogging is an outlet of creative expression. Blogging for the blogger is personal, and for the reader, it can obviously be a number of things. If ever, I look at blogs because they show the personal insights and opinions of writers or figures I admire or whose opinions I value. Some blogs, like The Lens on the NYTimes, house unique information and storylines that can be found nowhere else, with historical context and insights to make them really interesting to read about.

Good blogging, then, is situational and depends on a whole number of factors. It depends on the purpose of the blog, first from the eyes of the creator, and then from the eyes of the audience. A blog should be open to what the audience asks, as an established audience of a blog is presumably one that is dedicated to the writing but also, its unique content and angle. Our readings for this week have some interesting ideas to contribute to this discussion as well. As Grant-Davie points out, exigence and the rhetoric it inspires is a focal point of blogging, and an aspect that makes the medium so uniquely appealing. Exigence is certainly a main reason why blogs like The Lens share the information they do, because it is relevant and there is an exigent demand for interesting updates, more multi-faceted and more philosophical than the news. 

The Lens, first and foremost, is visual. It is a collection of ‘photography, video and visual journalism’, according to the blog site. It is also a collection of stories, both personal and broad. If you read the article titles aloud, one after the other, it seems random, with no apparent theme of content (first entries I see: “Where Gay Love is Illegal,” “A Meditation on Race, In Shades of White,” “The Intimate and Infinite Along the 100th Meridian.” This is because each article is meant to appeal to an inquisitive and informed audience. I assume that the readers of this blog are somewhat like me: they find interest in the world’s events, in gaining insight on the human experience, without necessarily becoming experts, or being drowned in information about every aspect of a certain situation. I also love becoming more knowledgeable about the depths of topics I find interesting, but for the purposes of viewing a blog, I enjoy the lighter nature of viewing and absorbing.

 

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The Rothfuss

I suppose ‘good blogging’ is writing about something personally meaningful. Since it’s a fairly stream-of-consciousness based act, if you aren’t actively invested in what you’re blogging about then a) don’t spend your precious time this way and b) it will probably come off as dry and at least a little boring.

Pat Rothfuss is a pretty great blogger. For that matter, he’s a fantastic author. Rothfuss has written 3 successful fantasy novels (working on a 4th) and started a cool fundraising organization called Worldbuilders that donates to his favorite charity, Heifer International. Rothfuss fans have really come through for this charity. According to the site, “In the first 7 years, [Worldbuilders] raised just over $3.5 million for Heifer international.” A lot of this was largely in part of exposure from Rothfuss’s blog.

On his blog, Rothfuss posts about his upcoming events, his writing process, the aforementioned charity, life in general, and sometimes if we’re lucky, his adorable kids. He’s given them nicknames (the eldest is Oot and the new baby is Cutie Snoo) to protect their privacy. These stories can range from hilarious to surprisingly profound and are probably my favorite part of the blog.

I’ll leave you with a video of him playing a board game on Wil Wheton’s YouTube show.

The Onion

I have always had trouble reading the news. Another death, another murder, terrible stupid things our government does…it is all very upsetting. The only way I can truly handle the news/current events is with a lot of satire.

One of my favorite ways in being informed about current events while getting my healthy dose of satire is John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight. For those of you not familiar with this, each week a video is posted of John Oliver discussing this week’s latest news topic. He educates the viewer on the serious topics, and backs up his argument with statistics and various sources, but also weaves in satire in order to lighten things up.

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A blog that follows John’s Oliver satirical style is The Onion–“America’s Finest News Source.” Although much (MUCH) less educational, it’s always a good laugh.

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The Onion is by no way a means to replace your usual news-reading. But it mimics America’s news sources and provides that satire that our news sources so desperately needs sometimes.  

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So if you are like me, consider checking out The Onion. It’s light; it’s funny. It makes fun of the stupid things in our society that are only tolerable when ridiculed (and apparently everything else too).

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Genre: News Satire/”Fake News”

Audience: People Fed Up with America

Numbers Never Lie*

In terms of news from the worlds of sports and economics, nobody does it quite like FiveThirtyEight. It was this past Winter Semester where I learned of FiveThirtyEight.com in my ECON 195 class here at Michigan, and I continue to get a kick out of the incredible varieties of content the site publishes for a given reader. FiveThirtyEight is primarily known for being an ESPN-run blog dedicated to connecting complicated statistical data to the ever-changing worlds of American politics and sports, but in my opinion the site provides so much more than that. For example, I admire the thought-provoking topics and the unpredictable questions the site takes on, such as when editor-in-chief Nate Silver “analyzed 6 million flights to figure out which airports, airlines and routes are most likely to get you there on time and which ones will leave you waiting” or other topics, such as a personal favorite of mine, regarding the number of available jobs relating to the American poverty level which can be found here: http://53eig.ht/1Fk7aH9. The target audience of FiveThirtyEight, in my experience with the blog, would extend anywhere from an individual who enjoys not just your ordinary political, economic, life, sports, and life blog articles, but extensions of complex and often overlooked facets of our society that many of us had never before considered. I would certainly give anyone interested in learning more about statistical models and theoretical data the green light to check out FiveThirtyEight. You will discover answers to questions you never knew existed, and questions to answers you had once thought were the true norm. Because, after all, numbers never lie*

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The Latest from Nate Silver and FiveThirtyEight can be found here:
http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/what-online-dating-was-like-in-the-1960s/

RookieMag

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Rookie mag (http://www.rookiemag.com) is one of my favorite blogs, and I’ve been an avid reader from its inception. Tavi Gevinson originally started fashion blog when she was a sophomore in high school. It was a pretty standard fashion blog in format, but the international fashion community became enthralled by this pint-sized fashion prodigy. She traveled to countless fashion weeks, and met with the fashion world’s most coveted icons. Yet in 2013, she started rookiemag, a new franchaise in which she completely reinvented her blog to resemble something that looked much more like an online magazine publication.

Each month there is a theme, and all of the articles put out that month have to do in some way with that particular theme. These themes range from ‘mulitiplicity’ (this month’s) to ‘up all night’ to ‘trust.’ The articles incorporate these themes in a vast variety of ways, some expected and some a little less clear in their connection. Readers can click on each issue and read the articles posted each day for that month, or they can click through the “category” section in which they have articles written under categories titled things like “beauty,” “dear diary,” or “live through this.” Some of the articles are written about current cultural phenomena, some are written about fashion and beauty, and others are articles of advice. The entire publication is geared toward young high school and college aged women. Though there are many different writers who contribute blog posts, the publication has a really clear voice directed toward young women. None of the articles feel preachy (which I feel frequently when I read Elite Daily) or too dry. There is a really nice range of articles from different categories, all of which feel relatable to my particular demographic. I also like the fact that there is a nice mix between serious articles about sensitive topics such race, abuse, or politics, and fun blog posts about music and fashion. It captures the complex range of interests that any young woman might have.

In addition to the content, the blog is incredibly well designed, featuring hand-drawn icons and a vintage color-palette. The illustrated icons next to each article really attract the reader and the entire publication is overall aesthetically pleasing. Ultimately, I like this blog because I think it speaks to a very specific audience in every way – both through content and design.

Cooking Classy Saves Lives

Growing up in a big, fat, crazy Italian family means cooking has always been a big part of my life. I have been helping my grandmother and aunts and cousins in the kitchen for as long as I can remember. Cooking came naturally to me since I was always completely surrounded by it. Before I came to college it was easy to cook for myself, and I did almost every day. But at the beginning of my freshman year I quickly learned cooking for myself would not be easy. I ended up throwing out a lot of food because I didn’t have the space for leftovers or I struggled to make some of my staple meals because of the limitations of living in a dorm. I got sick of cereal, ramen noodles and microwavable meals within my first month of college.

 

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 7.53.36 PMEnter Cooking Classy. I randomly found this blog, which has truly saved my life, while desperately searching for any other food besides frozen pizzas. Completely run by a 20 something year old woman, Jaclyn, Cooking Classy has everything for people who enjoy making themselves good food. She posts recipes of different difficulty levels, meaning I can still find an amazing recipe even if I’m feeling lazy and want something quick. All the recipes have accompanying photos, which makes trying them out even more irresistible. And you can follow Cooking Classy on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram if you want to fill your social media feeds with tantalizing pictures of food.

 

The recipes are broken down into categories, like Italian or Southwestern,Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 7.53.02 PM or my favorite, Brownies and Bars. There is a recipe for a “small batch of brownies” which allegedly serves 3-4 people but no judgements if 3-4 servings turns into a single serving like it has for me. There are all kinds of dessert options to satisfy any sweet tooth. Sometimes you desperately need chocolate frosted peanut butter bars at 2 AM during finals. Cooking Classy is there for you. Sometimes you drastically overbuy vegetables and need to make them fast. Cooking Classy lets you search by ingredients. No matter what mood you are in or what you have lying around the house, you will find a recipe you will want to make immediately.

 

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 8.04.07 PMRun by a Mormon wife and mother,
the blog is aimed at other women and mothers but the content is not exclusive to these groups by any means. I think she speaks to this audience because it is the audience she can most relate to. She often replies to comments that visitors leave which gives the blog a strong sense of community. It is hard not to like Jaclyn because she presents herself and her interests, cooking and photography, in such a genuine way. I challenge you to look through some recipes and not want to try and match her process and final products. And who doesn’t like a woman who dedicated and entire category to breads and rolls that look like this.

 

While this blog isn’t going to be for everyone (Jaclyn does get a little preachy sometimes), if you like to cook real food like I do, you will love this blog. A few of my personal favorites besides the brownies are Grilled Greek Lemon Chicken, Chicken Parmesan and Zucchini (although I like to make my own sauce), Creamy Tomato and Tortellini Soup and Energy Cookies. If you don’t mind spending some time making your dinner, I promise you find recipes you will want to make for the rest of your life. The recipes are easy to find and easy to follow. I strongly recommend checking out this site before your next trip to the grocery store.

 

Harper and Harley, The Greatest Fashion Blog You’ve Never Heard Of

If you’ve ever glanced over my shoulder before class, you probably saw me scrolling through Instagram. You may have even noticed that at least every other post comes from someone I’ve never met and probably will never meet in my lifetime. These people are fashion bloggers.

Tea time via @harperandharleyThey live a life I can only dream of living. One where having high tea at Burberry sums up a typical Sunday afternoon (see left) and sitting front row at Versace during New York Fashion Week is no big deal.

While most fashion bloggers post similar items, I’ve found that my favorite blog to follow is Harper and Harley, created by Sara Donaldson. Sara is an Australian blogger focused on providing readers with inspiration using her black, white, and grey philosophy. Essentially, Sara believes that color–to a certain extent–should be removed from one’s wardrobe and true style can be achieved using only neutrals.

I found her fashion blog while reading an article on refinery29.com titled, “The Crazy Response Fashion Bloggers Get When They Take A Break”. In response to fans that can sometimes get upset when bloggers have not been posting as regularly, Sara notes, “Sometimes, it’s just a simple fact that you would rather not be on your phone and instead, live your life in the present.” I was immediately intrigued by Sara’s response, mostly because of her emphasis on living in the present, and decided to check out her blog.

Sara Donaldson via @harperandharley

Compared to other fashion bloggers, Sara’s emphasis on playing with essential pieces of one’s wardrobe (think: jeans, black t-shirts, nude heels) is relatable for many people. I often struggle to add color to my wardrobe because I prefer wearing neutrals, like black or white. It used to bother me that I couldn’t buy something of color until I found Sara’s blog. Her unique perspective on style without color allowed me to feel more comfortable with my own personal style and experiment with different textures and accessories.

While Sara’s blog is directed mainly towards women in their 20s, her blog, according to her “About” page, is for “inspiration on how to wear these key pieces, but also as a guide for those who wish to follow suit and eliminate colour from their wardrobes.” Thus, both men and women, if they identify with her style and aesthetic, can appreciate and enjoy her posts. Personally, I believe that fashion is an art form and that, like other types of art, can be appreciated by anyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, etc. All it takes is a willingness to try things you’ve never tried before.

Blog Post on harperandharley.comSpeaking of posts, Sara writes about everything from wearing double denim to why you should workout outdoors. Similarly, she travels so often (and gets paid just to show up at fashion shows!) that her Instagram and blog are filled to the brim with photos of London, Milan, and Paris. With such a wide variety of content to choose from, Sara remains one of my favorite fashion bloggers and hopefully she’ll become one of yours, too!