Monday, July 14, 2014

How To Write A Good Article That Pokes Fun At Society Without Punching People In The Face

         The thing about writing is that sometimes it comes back and bites you in the nose.


          Remember when I wrote my “Dear Stalker” post?
          Yeah.
          For those of you who don’t know, I wrote a post devaluing a person after he commented something on my blog that sounded suspiciously stalker-ish.
          It was not a very nice post.
          Since then, I’ve been learning to inject some grace into a stark, original message, thereby improving the quality of my writing and making me sound more like a logical human being.
          The thing with blogs is this:
Bloggers write most, if not all, of the content.
Bloggers are the ones who press the Publish button.
Once the post is Published, bloggers cannot undo the damage that the article has the potential to do.
The blogger has complete control of what they do or do not publish, so they cannot explain away questionable writings published on their blog.
          The blogger has no defense with which to shield themselves from oncoming criticism, because THEY. HAVE. COMPLETE. CONTROL.
          Okay, I think I’ve gotten that point across.

          So we need to be careful with what words we choose.
          Generally, articles that challenge common ideas in society are gritty articles that can and will step on people’s toes. But just because the ideas step on people’s toes doesn’t mean you have to present them a way that’s going to punch them in the face.
          Here’s what you do: you add grace.
          If you’ve read Andrew Clements’ middle grade novel The Landry News, you’ll understand what I’m saying. In The Landry News, the protagonist, Cara, writes an editorial in her newspaper that challenges the authority of the teacher, Mr. Larson. It’s an entirely well-written article—Clements’ MG fare generally isn’t the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” stuff—except for one thing: it lacks grace, as her mom points out later. And understanding.
          Because Mr. Larson isn’t the bad guy, as we see later. He’s just lost some of his “teacher joy.”
          And because Cara didn’t understand that, she didn’t write an article full of grace.
          Which is why we need to learn from her mistake, and we need to be understanding, and gracious, and kind, and forgiving, whenever we write an article that steps on people’s toes.        
          So here’s some of my advice on how to inject that grace into your writing:
·        Sit on the topic. Sometimes I get so heated up about something that I go to my computer and just WRITE. WRITE. WRITE. WRITE. And that’s good—inspiration gives the push. But sometimes the topics are push-button, and after I’ve written the article I need to go back and revise it to edit out some unnecessarily negative parts. So that’s what I do after I write EVERYTHING. And I mean everything. I don’t want to publish something that I’ll regret later. Even if it’s just a little side comment. So, my advice? Sit on it. Give it some time. If you’re one of those people who writes and publishes immediately after you’re done writing it, consider scheduling your posts. (Blogger has a function that allows you to automatically post articles at a future date.) I remember one time I reviewed a book that had a positive view of something that I viewed negatively. I got rather heated up and wrote a decent amount of disagreement. Fortunately, as it was a scheduled post, I was able to go back later and revise some parts that beat a dead horse. Hopefully I was able to sound more mature that way.
·        Use tact. Sometimes I want to use the word immature in my writing, but that’s an offensive term, especially if the word has the ability to hit a person or group of people that I don’t even know. And even when I do personally know people who are immature, and understand that they’re immature, and sometimes when I want to write a post instructing them how to shape up or ship out, I have to calm myself down. I can still write about that topic; I can just layer it in ways that use tact and that get my point across without being unnecessarily cruel or mean. So I don’t use the word “immature” in my writing. Use synonyms. Stay away from words like “moron,” “idiot,” “jerk,” etc., because that doesn’t raise your grace level any bit.
And why do we want to write with grace? Why do we have to use tact, be “mature”?
Well, I want people to take me seriously.
Look at it this way:
Imagine that you’re a published writer who receives manuscript-critique requests from dozens of people per day. Every now and then, you come upon a request that looks like this: Id relly lak it iff ud tak a look @ my bok. If u dnt ill hat u forev.

Would you look at that person’s “bok”?

No. Unless you don’t want them to “hat” you forever.
So in everything hot-topic that I write, I try to put some grace into it because if I didn’t, I sound like A) a narrowminded person, and B) if I sound like a narrowminded person, then people don’t take me seriously. That’s just the way the world goes round.
So next time you write something when you’re on an inspiration, sit on it. Wait. Then go back and tactfully change some words you might regret using later.

The result? A thought-provoking article full of grace and love that doesn’t punch people in the face.





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