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For students: Six ways to write better blog posts

November 25, 2009

I wrote the post below for my students. We are going to persevere with our student blog project although we are conscious that ‘teacher assigned’ blogging is potentially problematic in the sense that it conflicts with the important notion that the motivation to write a blog is intrinsic. I am in two minds on this.

From the outset I presented the blogs to our students as ‘school’ connected spaces and therefore have been a gatekeeper, setting the guidelines for their use. The students instinctively want to tatoo their spaces with their own icons and influences but we have asked them to conform to a different design brief. I think for some this is demotivating as the project then uses the tools they are familiar with from social networking sites but they do not get to use them as they would like. Others get the notion that this is different, for a potentially different audience and start to develop a different tone and style on their blogs. This advice is fairly obvious but covers areas that students often overlook when they create a post.

Six ways to write better blog posts Six ways to improve your writing

Picture 181. Choose a topic you care about.

If you, as the writer, are not motivated by the topic then you are not going to capture the attention of your readers. Choose subjects that you care about. Follow your interests, respond to ideas, issues, films and books that made an impact on you. You can constructively criticise or you might have a new and original angle on a familiar topic. A few links to get you thinking: Opinion: Looking For Meaning In Games, The Joy of Failure

2. Think about your audience as a community

Good writers think about their audience as they write. This helps them to make good decisions about what to share.

3. Try to hook your readers with a catchy title or subheading

Your title should try to grab people as they skim through your blog. Mention the topic but try to add something pulls the audience in. Here is an example that mentions the film’s name but also gives an idea of what will follow with some clever use of language. Coraline film review: Sparklingly spookish stop motion

4. Make comparisons and do not be afraid to bring in other people’s ideas

Show that you have read and listened to other people writing about the same topic. If you review a science fiction film, show that you understand some of the common features of this type of film. Evidence that you are knowledgeable about a topic or genre will help your reader trust you and make them want to come back and read more of your posts.

5. Keep people reading

Avoid giving everything away in your opening paragraph. Use structure, humour and planning to keep people reading. Avoid lists, endless plot descriptions and repetition to stop people leaving your post.

from Shawn Campbell on flickr6. Use paper and pencil to plan

Typing at a computer can lead to writing that lacks thought, shape and reflection. Use an old-school paper and pencil approach to plan your ideas. This also works well for presentations or, in fact, any complex task you are working on. The internet is great for research but also pretty good for distractions.

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