Whenever Krysta or I bring up the structure of a blog post or the idea of research or evidence in a blog post, we get a flurry of comments to the effect of, “This isn’t school!” No, it isn’t school, but my theory is that the things I learned about writing in school are not ONLY for writing research papers about Shakespeare; they’re also guidelines for how to write things in daily life! So while I admit I don’t put the same amount of rigor and structure into writing for the blog that I would have for a serious academic research paper (I agree; this is still just a hobby!), there are are things I do while writing to try to make my blog posts more cohesive and readable.
Have a Thesis
A “thesis” is just the idea that the text has a main point, and that the main point is clearly stated somewhere in the opening paragraph or introduction (if the introduction is more than one paragraph long). This means that, for discussion posts, I try to make the main argument or question clear in the beginning of the post. For reviews, I try to end the first paragraph with a clear statement of whether or not I enjoyed the book and what main aspects of the book led me to like/dislike it.
Write Topic Sentences
This is probably the area where I’m flakiest on the blog because I put A LOT of effort into writing topic sentences for academic papers, and I don’t put nearly the same amount of thought into them for my blog. However, I do still try to write them! Using topic sentences helps the reader know what the paragraph is going to be focused on, and they help me as the writer stay focused on that thing, whether I’m discussion the pacing of a book, the logic of a plot, or the characterization of a protagonist.
Use Evidence to Back Up My Points
The idea that you should back up your arguments with evidence has been a strangely controversial point on our blog in the past, but I think it’s immensely important! “Evidence” is just the reasons I believe the things I am writing. For a factual discussion post, this could, in fact, mean research and reading studies and articles to cite and link to. For instance, if I want to make a claim that “no one reads audiobooks anyway,” I should probably look up what percentage of readers do (or do not) listen to audiobooks.
The important aspect is recognizing what is “just my opinion” and what is a claim that could be proved or disproved with actual research. I have awkwardly seen book bloggers make (sometimes very angry!) claims about why publishers do X, why ebooks cost Y, why libraries do Z, etc. that are . . . just factually wrong. I know “research,” for a lot of bloggers, sounds like something that they shouldn’t have to do for a hobby they are just doing for fun, but I believe it’s important to try to make accurate claims when possible.
And for topics that ARE more opinion-based, I still think evidence is important! If, for instance, I say in a review that the plot is slow, I try to give an example of why. Or if I say a character is brilliant, I might give an example of a time they did something exceptionally smart.
Evidence is important to help your audience understand why your opinions or arguments are what they are, and help the audience decided whether they agree.
End with a Conclusion
This might be the most obvious point on the list, but I do try to end my posts with some type of conclusion. In a discussion post, I try to sum up the main point and any final information I want the readers to take away. In a review, I make a final point about whether or not I recommend the book to other readers, and why.
Conclusions can also be good for SEO. I’ve read that readers like seeing them, and having a clear conclusion can increase how many people finish reading the post. Using clear heading tags like “introduction” and “conclusion” throughout the post can also be useful for SEO.
And One Thing I Don’t Do As Much As I Should: Proofread
I literally proofread professionally, but I can’t stand reading my own work. Sometimes I reread a post once it’s published and notice some typos I need to clean up, but I admit I don’t do much proofreading of my own drafts. Please forgive me.