The one piece of advice I feel qualified to give

The advice I feel qualified to give today is this: Don’t run a competition. Actually, that’s not entirely true – competitions are fun but they are also taxing and this week’s theme is up late.

Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 24th.

The one piece of advice that
I feel qualified to give

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to. If you are new to this and joining us late welcome, thank you for joining us, please see week one’s post and the FAQ if you need more information.

Details

There will still be a “best post” and “best comment” but there will not be a winner for the most comments. Instead, there will be a “most votes on Reddit” section. This week, the Reddit section will be Writers of Thanet. Entries that take part in this new section will be given preference in the event of a tie (and let’s be honest, you are all very good). You will need a Reddit account for the grand finish so if you have not yet joined, it might be time to push yourself again.

Just like last week, to get “best post” you need to have linked to this post (unless you write something which is unequivocally orders of magnitude better than all the rest combined. If you need help with links see this post and if you need general WordPress help see this post.

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Five things authors can do to build a platform

Building a platform worthy of attracting publisher attention is no small feat. Here are five easy tasks that will get you in the right direction.

If you have never heard of an Authorial Platform (an author’s platform) before then I highly recommend that you read What is an Author Platform. You might also want to keep the Platform Building Jargon buster handy

1. Have a good blog

A blog or a full website can easily form the foundation of your platform.

Ideally, you should have your own website with your own domain name where you can publish whatever you want (including running a blog).

When you are just starting out, this is often a bit much to ask. Often because of the technical requirements that you have to reach. That said there are some excellent hosting services with very good customer support that will help you through almost all of the steps. So this is less of a barrier if you have a little cash to throw at the problem.

A blog, such as WordPressTumblrmblR or similar can be a good enough place to start. Best of all it they are free and fairly easy to set up. So if you are not yet ready to set up a full website a free blog can be just as good.

All you need to do is decide how many times a week you are going to publish and keep to that. If you only publish once a week (not a bad start) then pick a day for the content to go live. Try and write your post some time before publication day so it is ready when the time arrives.

For ideas of things to talk about, see our platform building themes from the competition we have been running.

2. Connect with others

Almost all of the remaining tips there are to give are in some way social. The first step after setting up your blog is to connect with other bloggers. There are a few ways to connect but they all boil down to showing some attention and communicating:

  • Talk on local forums of Facebook groups
  • Comment on other author’s blogs
  • Chat via email
  • Connect of Facebook
  • Follow on WordPress

Connecting with others gives you a loose assosiation fo fellow writers to bounce ideas off of, to read and get ideas from, and to trade comments with. Think of your network of fellow writer-bloggers as a writers group online.

This community is the first seeds of the community and following that you are trying to build arround yourself.

3. Get the word out

Now you have your community foundation in place it is time to get the word out. There are many different ways to do that and what works for you really depends on who you are and where the kind of people taht are interested in you and your writing might be found.

The only way to figure that out, sometimes, is to suck it and see.

  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook (page not group)
  • Tumblr
  • Reddit

Each of those places that you can promote your content has different requirements for success and differing levels of commitment. For example, a Facebook page should have a solid piece of content every single day for maximum effect. When you are just starting out forming a small public group for writers to share their blog posts with each other might be a better way to go; or it might be a terrible idea. These things are not cut and dry by any means.

Figure out what works for you and stick to it.

4. Link yourself up

One trick authors often miss is that they write great content which then vanishes into the archives never to be seen again. Don’t let that be you.

Instead, revisit the themes you have touched on in the past.

Once you have been going a year, if you find yourself short of ideas to write about, look back one year and publish a revised and updated look at the same topic. Not only will most of your readers have missed the first one but the idea itself will be fresh again.

Link readers back to the older stuff when you mention it as part of your new content. The chances are that at least half of your readers will have never seen what you published six months or a year ago.

By linking to other content you provide your readers with somewhere to go after they are done with the page they are currently reading. Why do you think wikis, which do this all the time, are so popular? You can browse those all day, jumping from topic to topic.

5. Don’t stop.

Whatever you do, don’t stop. Keep going.

Platforms take time to establish. That hard work can drain away if you leave your blog or soical media outposts without fresh updates. When you are knee deep in novel creation, you might only manage an update saying how many hours, words, or pages you managed. That’s fine for a while.

If you are working hard for a longer period of time there arre some other ways to keep those plates spinning.

  • Pay an assistant writer to publish content for you
  • Ask your community of fellow writers to provide guest posts
  • Build up a backlog of extra posts for times when you are busy
  • Publish a list of your posts about a single theme
  • Take a few pictures of your pet and post them

There are many one-off posts that have very littleto do with you and your writing and readers will happily accept one or two highly off topic posts every now and then without complaint. The rule of thumb is the 80:20 rule or about 1 off topic post for every 4 on topic posts.

Some writers, when they are working on a new novel will publish excerpts fromt he novel that they are very proud of. Others will grab a camera and read a page or two and put up a video.

There are many ways to turn what you are doing into more content.

Keep going.

Over to you

  • What are your tips for keeping going or platform building?
  • Have you tried something and it just did not work at all?
  • Have you found anything that works really well for you?

Tell us in the comments sections below.

What stops me writing?

This week our competition hits the half way mark and comes with a twist in the tale. If you are new to this and joining us late welcome, thank you for joining us, please see week one’s post and the FAQ if you need more information.

As with every week, there is a theme. As with every week, there will be three winners. This week, however, things change a little.

There will still be a “best post” and “best comment” but there will not be a winner for the most comments. Instead, it is time for us to push ourselves and enhance the platform we have been building with our blogs. Entries that take part in this new section will be given preference in the event of a tie (and let’s be honest, you are all very good).

Additionally, to get “best post” you need to have linked to this post (unless you write something which is unequivocally orders of magnitude better than all the rest combined. If you need help with links see this post and if you need general WordPress help see this post.

But first the theme, this one is a sequal:

Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 17th.

What stops me writing?

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to.

A bonus will be awarded to any writer that manages to link back to their own “What gets me writing” post (week one) in a way that fits with the post and seems natural. If judging is as hard as it normally is, that bonus could help.

How to really win this week

In preparation to our big finish, you will need to step out of your comfort zone once more. This time, however, it is not such a big step. If you can sign up for Facebook, then you can do this too.

Have you ever used Reddit? You will need an account there. It is free to sign up and free to use (just like Facebook or Twitter).

On Reddit is a section called Thanet Blogs. I created it a few months ago and it has been mostly dormant for a while now. That makes it perfect for our new competition element.

Once you have published your blog post, you will need to post a link to the Reddit. WordPress users, that means making sure you post the public URL and not your private one.

The winner will be the post with the most up votes (down voting by competition entrants is not allowed). Aside from us, anyone who uses Reddit could come and vote. You could, for example, get your friends to come and vote for you. You might want to be sporting and vote for each other too.

If you use WordPress (or Google analytics on Blogger) you may see traffic (that is visitors) being sent to you from Reddit. This is good. Once you are comfortable posting on Reddit you might feel like extending out from the sandbox of this particular subreddit and finding larger communities. Writers of Thanet, for example, or the global Writers, if you are feeling brave. There is even a Thanet Creative Writers (which is just about Thanet Creative Writers).

Getting your links out into relevant places is part of establishing and growing your platform. (The opposite of getting your link in irrelevant places – which is spam).

The answer to the question “what stops me writing?” might now be “reading reddit”. You have been warned.

You will be needed your Reddit account for the total lack of grand prize and the Overall Winner selection at the end.

Have you considered becoming a Storyteller?

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin. Once-upon-a-time there was a person who told a story. That person could be you.

Storytelling is more than just reading out a story that you have written. Stories define us and help us explore the world. They enable us to look at old things in new ways. The storyteller is the artist that guides us on the story’s journey.

Since the first people sat around the first campfire, stories have been told. Although it is an ancient tradition, storytelling is still relevant today. Why do you thing films, books, and computer games exist? Stories are part of who we are.

Everyone has at least one story in them waiting to get be let out. Some of us, have many, many stories. Sometimes that is what drives us to become writers.

Jonathan Gottschall calls us the storytelling animal. In many ways we are, we live in stories. We create stories. We define our world with stories.

Professional Storytelling

Have you considered becoming not just a writer but a storyteller? Perhaps a professional storyteller?

The Society for Storytelling has a number of excellent resources including a guide to Becoming a Professional Storyteller and Telling Tales: A beginners Guide to Telling Stories.

What Great Storytellers Know with Matt Chan is a TEDx video that takes a novel look at storytelling.

If you decide to set up a storytelling event then the Society for Storytelling has a guide on Promoting Storytelling Events. Members of our charity can expect our full support in promoting local events and storytelling is no exception. We’d be delighted to get behind local storytelling events.

Next year, National Storytelling Week takes place from January 27th to 3rd February. So there is plenty of time to plan something (if you want to).

Talking of running events, have you considered setting up a Storytelling club or monthly storytelling gathering? Again, members of our charity can expect our full support in promoting such an event and the Society for Storytelling has guidance on Organising a Storytelling Club.

After all, we are wired for stories, says Lisa Cron.

Have you considered storytelling?

Three things games could teach writers about writing

Today I want to look at three very specific things that games could teach us writers about the art of writing. Things we should know and yet, somehow, seem to forget on a fairly regular basis.

Each of these three things comes with a video by Extra Credits but when they say “games” or “your game” image they are saying “stories” or “your novel”. You’d be surprised how often the exact same points apply.

Bad writing (in games)

Bad writing makes bad story telling

Before we get to the video which is both short and informative while being entertaining and easy to watch, let us talk about Sci-fi.

Sci-fi is really two entire genres:

  • Science Fiction – what might be possible
  • Science Fantasy – just accept it and have fun

One is about reality and the other is a flight of fantasy with high-tech gear in it.

A stand in for including some sort of high-technology magic, without really understanding what we are talking about, is technobabble. And while a little can be fun, most of the time all you are doing is talking nonsense.

It’s okay to ask the reader to just accept that the doodad in the green box makes the thing happen if you are happy to be writing at little more science fantasy rather than hard science. If you actually have no idea how the science works and really don’t care, then don’t try to explain it to the reader. Instead, you might want to think about showing them the exciting adventure or whatever it is that made you want to tell this particular story.

The video goes into great detail about the difference in writing style and genre between Star Wars and Star Trek and there’s probably no reason for me to cover the same ground. You can watch the video for that. However, let me point out this – The Star Wars original trilogy never explained what The Force was and it did not spoil the series.

Sometimes, in a story, a thing just is. You don’t need to explain what was happening, you just need to let the audience enjoy it.

I see in a lot of writer’s groups in Thanet and online subscribe to a cargo-cult of writing which insists that every last thing must be fully explained and work within a scientific system. Even if that thing is magic.

Sometimes, “a wizard did it” is all the explanation needed. We are not narrating an RPG and there is no need to maintain detailed numeric tracking systems for every aspect of magic, or science, or whatever fantastic element you are talking about. So long as the audience can enjoy the fantastical element of your story and you are consistent about it, you have probably done enough.

Over explaining, especially badly done which only shows that you don’t understand the science yourself, is only going to spoil things.

Guns in games and stories

Guns (and weapons in general) say a lot about the culture of a story

This second video talks about “The American cult of the gun”. I don’t plan to say too much here but have you ever considered the cultural implications of certain choices you make with your story?

In the west, we often write about a protagonist on a quest for the betterment oft he self. To get the girl, to save the day, to be the hero. Likewise, we can tend to see the gun or the car as a tool to achieve personal freedom. On the other hand, other cultures might see the sword or the gun as an extension of the self.

I can imagine that I just lost you. Watch the video and lets talk in a moment.

So what do you think? Do you still see your story in the same way? Or have you perhaps just caught a glimpse of how our culture informs the way we build characters and plots?

When we put a gun in a character’s hand, is it just a gun or is it a representation of his own power in the service of others?

That might seem like a pointless abstraction but that “pointless abstraction” can have profound implications for the character development and even the way in which we will show the protagonist using the gun.

It might be a bit much to extract from this one example the whole concept of how our culture colours ever aspect of our story telling but if this video can help you to start thinking about it, then I have done my job here.

Hard-Boiled games and stories

Why Are There So Many Gritty Video Games (and stories)?

Another huge mistake I see touted in writers groups is that to make a story more mature all you need is to make it more hard-boiled with sex, bad language, and graphic violence. The reality is that this often just serves to make your story seriously lacking in the maturity stakes.

Over the last few years, I have encountered advice from Thanet based writers that insists that it is a good idea to just cut loose with swearing and blood to tell a better story. “The more hard-boiled, the better,” they say. This is categorically wrong.

Hard-boiled writing for its own sake is writing. Just because a good story has blood and violence in it does not mean that putting blood and violence in yours will make it good. Your story will still be as good or as bad as it was before but it will now have more blood and violence and may have suffered as a result of this unneeded inclusion.

There is really only one reason to put blood, bad language, and violence into a story – if it completely makes sense to do so and the story would unavoidably suffer to avoid doing so.

Stories with violence that is completely unjustified are just splatter porn fan-fiction. Worse still adding more “hard-boiled” elements into a story without understanding what they are there for will almost certainly make your story less interesting to read. Boring stories do not sell and no one wants to read them.

That’s not to say that bad language, sex, nihilism, blood, gore, death, and all that should never be used. Like any thematic element to a story, if used well, they can be a vital part of the recipe. Used carelessly and all you have is a story no one will want to read.

Gritty does not equal better.

Over to you

Tell us what you took away from these videos

  • Do you agree with these three lessons that games can teach us?
  • Is there a vital point I missed?
  • What did you take away from those videos?

Tell us your thoughts on these topics in the comments section below.

Why I write in my genre

Here is this week’s theme for the writing competition that also builds your author platform. For full details please see week one’s post.

Week Four: Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 27th.

Why I write in my genre

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to. Bonus points (which don’t count towards anything other than enhanced bragging rights) if you can include both the original Greek classification system and the art history usage of Genre Paintings without it seemingly the least bit forced.

Ideas

This theme was designed to give you an opportunity to share your love of your preferred genre (or genres) with your readers. Talking about the general classification of your work can help you show up on the radar of the type of people that want to read that sort of work. However, feel free to argue that genres are a terrible idea, and show why your genre-busting novel is amazing without them. Or, you know, find some awesome way to spin a fiction around the theme. It’s your blog after all

However, feel free to argue that genres are a terrible idea, and show why your genre-busting novel is amazing without them. Or, you know, find some awesome way to spin a fiction around the theme. It’s your blog after all.

You can probably guess my favourite genre from the picture I chose this week. It was that or an image of zombies.

Don’t forget

Don’t forget to link to this week’s post so your entry is (much) easier to discover. You may find it easier to get more comments if you also share your post to your Facebook friends or on Twitter. There is now a guide to linking (and link sharing), if you need it.

Everything you ever wated to know about sharing links

During the competition, I have had a lot of people direct questions to me on the subject of sharing links. I am going to try and explain everything I know in a way that I hope will be useful.

In my opening paragraph, you might have noticed some differently coloured clickable text. The word “competition” links to the competition overview from week 1 while the word “links” leads to the jargon buster (which tells you what a link is). Pretty nifty right?

You can also share links on Facebook. I have no doubt that you have seen friends sharing news and funny blog posts every single day. You can also share your own content too.

Sharing links on Facebook the easy way

Take a look at almost any blog or news site and you will see things that look something like this.

Screenshot from 2017-03-17 14:27:44.png

That is from one of our competition entries.

Do you notice the button that says “Facebook”? This is what that link looks like on this blog.

Screenshot from 2017-03-17 14:29:59.png

You can see that three shares have already been detected. Is that not awesome?

Give the “Facebook” button a click. And this happens.

Screenshot from 2017-03-17 14:31:34.png

That box is all ready for me to share that link to my Facebook wall. There is even a box which invites me to “say something about this”. When I am done I can press “Post to Facebook” (bottom right).

That is all well and good but I want to share this link to our group. Do you see where it says “share on your own timeline”? Let’s click that and change it.

Screenshot from 2017-03-17 14:32:45.png

I chose “share in group”. And then when the group box appeared I started typing until the group I wanted was in the list. Then I gave that a click.

Now I get to share the link to the group instead.

Sharing links to Facebook the advanced way

That was the easy way to share links. Now we are going to learn about an advanced way to share links that will also help you learn something about blogging.

It’s actually almost as easy. However, this link sharing method is just a touch more fiddly.

Look up right now. At the top of your screen – you can probably see a long bar. Something like this:

Screenshot from 2017-03-17 14:34:19

Do you see the text inside the box? That is the address of the page you are looking at. As you did not have to log in or enter any magic passwords to see this post, if you were to give this link to someone else, they would see this article just the same as you would.

copy-url

Now, let us copy that. You can highlight the text, right-click, and press copy; or you can highlight the text and press control+C; on an android device long press and choose copy.

If you take that text and go over to the facebook group you can paste it into a message. You will see exactly the same stuff appear as when you shared it from the button.

However, there will be this big bit of ugly text. You can go ahead and remove that from your post – facebook is done with it now and understands that you want to share the link.

This technique allows you to share almost any page on Facebook. You can even use it to share the group, pages, and events too.

How to share links in a blog post

Links on blog posts are formatted using the a tag and the href attribute. Don’t worry – you don’t need to know about that if you are using WordPress. If you are interested you can check the HTML view of your post later and see what I mean.

WP-post

If you have posted on a blog before then you have probably seen something like this before. If you have yet to get that far check out this guide which will talk you through everything you need to know about getting started with posting on WordPress.

Take a close look at the toolbar. After the B for bold and I for italics, there are two links for bulleted and numbered lists. After that is an icon which is supposed to look like links in a chain. That’s for linking with.

First, you highlight your text that you want linked and then you press that link button. You should get a box like this:

Screenshot from 2017-03-17 14:43:11

You will probably notice that there are a list of our blog posts in the big box. That’s a helpful tool to help you make links to your own stuff. Linking to related content that you have already posted is a great idea but that is a story for another time.

Right now we are interested in the first box that says URL. URL is another name for the link text that we copied before. Paste the link text in the URL box. Then press “Add Link”.

That is all there is to it. While you are getting used to adding links I highly recommend that you give your links a test click after you publish to check they are all working. If one has gone wrong you can always hit edit and have another go.

Using links for pings

If you link to the current competition post from the competition entry, you will ping our blog and (once we’ve checked it is a true ping) someone (probably me) will okay it. Then your link will appear in the list under the competition post.

On WordPress, you do not have to do anything special. It will take care of everything for you.

Over to you

I hope that this has proven to be a helpful tutorial. I did not expect to ever write a WordPress tutorial in my life and so far I have written three just for this blog. Please let me know if I was clear enough and if you could follow what I was saying – I am still quite new to writing introductory tutorials.

Do you have anything to add? What neat things have you found to do with links?

How to write the WORST blog post ever (in the whole world)!!!

This is a demonstration of bad blogging. Do not copy this. This is about the worst advice you could ever find in a blog post. I truly hope that you never follow any of this advice.

youth-active-jump-happy-40815To write the worst blog post for a Thanet blog evva in da world be sure to right with bad spelling and 4get to use any punctuation at all and use lots of conjunctions and keep the sentence going as loooong as possible and don’t stop and keep going and just annoy teh readerz with all the worst L3e7 speeks and spell things wrong and make it one big block of terrible text that is far too long and in need of a break or a full stop or some other silly thing like that and don’t get to the point and don’t ever fisnigh your thought or your

To really annoy readers try using a lot of different colours. Use colours that are low contrast. Also, try use blue and underline together to make it look like you have put in a link.

Additionally, you should definitely try to get some paragraphs that have unusual alignments because that really helps reduce readability. After all, hard to read posts are better, right? To really destroy readability use italics as well.

Use bold and at random intervals on words with no particular need for emphasis because saving italics and bold for emphasis is for wusses, right????

Brunglefargle!!

If you must use headings inside your post make sure that they have absolutely no connection to the text that comes under them. Remember to be utterly inconsistent with the way that you do that.

Exclamation marks are great!!!!

Use as many exclamation marks as humanly possible!!!!!!!

Whole sections of your blog post should be headings because headings are awesome!!!!!!!!!!!

xmas-1Pictures you use should have no relation to your content ever. Who wants to look at pictures that relate to what you are saying??? That’s just crazy.

Also, question marks. You should question everything!!! So you do you double question marks right?? Because that means more if you use two, or even three. You know that right??? Look how arty I seem when using extra punctuation.It looks even cooler when I take out the space.Because a space and a full stop do the same thing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1


Lines are cool!!!


Use some lines at random.

When you link, don’t link text that has any connection to the text. Keep the reader guessing.

You have an indent function so use it whenever the inspiration takes you.

  1. Never let the conventions of good formatting hold you back.

Blockquotes are only used for quoting other people by snobs. True artists use it to look cool!!!!!!!!!!!

  • If you can use long tags and unrelated categories too, do so. Use all the tags!!!!



If you have not used all the formatting options then you have not tried hard enough to make your blog post truly terrible.

Full stops are good for spacing work

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see!!!!!

Now I know that some people try and claim that these cool art features are great in moderation. Moderation! I ask you, what use is moderation? We are artists and we KNOW THAT ALL CAPS and bright colours and lots of formatting are vital to good writing, right??

Ascii art is better than pictures

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Spell checkers are for the week?!?!?!

You should also go on and on about your book (or your product or whatever) and write for people that are not your audience. Who do those people think they are anyway. They should be glad to read your thoughts. People should pay to read this stuff. Yeah? Here are some more hints on how to write a very bad post.

++

Your blog post is not done until you have mentioned
  1. Bananas
  2. Goats
  3. Nazis

and also fish.

Go forth and write really bad blog posts.

Seriously though, please don’t. I am literally begging you not to make blog posts like this. Please format responsibly.

Week Two Winners

Late but arriving as fast as I can format text, are the winners for the Week Two competition. The theme was time travel which reminds me, if I don’t hit publish soon I will need a time machine because guests are about to arrive for

The theme was time travel which reminds me, if I don’t hit publish soon I will need a time machine because guests are about to arrive for Tea and Chat. The irony of getting a post out late during Time Travel week is not lost on me.

As always, there were three winners to identify:

  1. Best Post
  2. Best Comment
  3. Most Commented upon

I am aware that one or two of you are still tinkering with WordPress or trying to figure out how to get started. I have also learned that things that I take for granted like adding a link to something specific is not at all clear for everyone (yet). I promise to write about linking specifically as soon as I can. I put together a WordPress FAQ for those that need it.

Things that particularly impressed me

The quality of the work this week was really astounding. What was I thinking, imagining that I could pick out just a few winners?

Congratulations to everyone who was using WordPress and dealt with the sudden change to the editor this week.

Unexpected plot twists. I saw a real handbrake turn of a plot twist this week. It was so good that I felt it was worth a mention.

Everything I look for in a time travel story was found in one perfect short story. Despite a snafu with the linking making the text a bit hard to read (all blue from links and my dyslexia, not so fun) it was nevertheless perfectly told.

A poem that almost sets up a story not told was the tease we had this week. I want to read the story of good intentions derailed by temptation.

A very honest reflection. Ine of the best ways to write is to be brutally honest. This is a post that typifies that honesty perfectly.

A perfect insight into a writer’s mind. What more can you say? This was a fantastic reflection on the engine of writing. Asking “what if” and filling in the blanks of unknowns. Loved it.

A novel approach to an old topic. This read like some old school sci-fi, a bit rough around the edges, but what a story!

Sci-fi and comedy delivered with a comfortable ease. I liked the way the author self-inserted their own writer persona as the main protagonist. Also, coffee powered time travel.

Poetry with a plot twist. I love the way, in so few lines, this poet plays with several tropes of time travel.

Some constructive criticism

This is aimed at no one in particular but are just some observations that I hope will help you. To be honest, there was so much to praise about this week’s batch of entries that I struggled to find anything to write in this section.

Don’t forget to post

First, and most obviously, don’t do what I just did – promise a post and then utterly fail to get it published. I feel like I should still apologise some more for that. Such a silly mistake.

Centre aligned paragraphs

I saw a lot more centre align text this week than last. It is a topic I address to businesses fairly frequently. This is probably because I have something of a unique perspective on odd text. I am dyslexic and centred text (and a few other unusual formattings) plays merry hell with my ability to read it. (Don’t worry, I am a geek and can get my browser to correct my view for me).

Generally, people centre text when they want it to look balanced, appear to be different, or just want to make it stand out or look “nice”. It might look okay to you but if you raise the reading difficulty of the text by quite a bit.

WordPress users have the Block Quote option which looks like a pair of opening quote marks. That will definitely make the text appear to be different. Other options include italics, bold, a different colour, or full justify. Our WordPress FAQ has more details on how to use these features.

Links

Links are great. Links are how the Web works. Linking to something is like sharing love. It is a great way to build the community around you. I have promised to try and produce a guide to linking. I will be doing that soon.

If you can figure out linking then try to always link to what you are talking about. Some of you do – this is to your credit.

As a side note, links work best if they are added in after the text is written. Put them in at the end, is my advice. This can also help avoid situations where the editor tries to make everything one giant link.

Please note that I never knock off marks for not linking but you will not get as much out of the contest if you do not link out when it counts.

The Winners

Best Post: Ansteysp

OMG, you writers! I honestly had a good reason to give each and every last one of you the prize for “best” post. The batch of posts this week was amazing. Each one typified a great post in some way. It almost came down to my simply drawing names out of a hat – that’s how hard it was to pick a winner this week.

Best Comment: Kentish Rambler

There were several great comments to choose from this week. I spend ages go back and forth between them all trying to make up my mind. You have all really gotten into the whole constructive feedback groove this week. This was a hard call to make.

Post with most comments: Irving Benjamin

The runaway winner for most comments was Irving’s post. You all did a good job of picking up comments and commenting on each other’s work but this post just picked up a few more.

And Now: Week Three

Why not congratulate the winners (and other participants) by giving them some comment love.

Best of luck to everyone who takes part with this week’s theme. It’s not too late if you want to join in now – there are 10 themes left to go.

You can find out about the Week Three theme here.

WordPress Help for Thanet’s Writers

By Othmanhlallouch (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Most of our competition participants have chosen WordPress.com to host their entries; a good idea I think. Here is a collection of, what I hope are, helpful resources.

However far along the path of learning about publishing your own content online, I hope this post can prove useful.

Getting fully setup on WordPress.com

Set Up Your Blog in Five Steps is a WordPress guide to the five steps that you will probably want to follow to get fully set up.

While most of you will have done at least four of those steps it might be worth looking at the section on widgets. Widgets are those elements that allow you to show custom text, links, social integration and other features.

The basics of WordPress.com

My problem is that, for me, it is all the basics. I’ve been blogging and doing web things for over thirteen years. Try as I might it is very hard for me to imagine myself as a person just getting started.

That’s why I’ve taken the time to find other people’s posts and videos that do a better job than I might.

As far as general overview videos go this one is pretty good.

How to use the make and edit blog posts

Blog posts (sometimes called blogs by people) and pages seem very similar on WordPress. Blog posts are the things you will post most often. Skip on down a bit if you want to learn about pages.

I watched a lot of how to videos on to make this post for you. This was the best video about creating blog posts on WordPress.com that I could find.

That said I strongly disagree with one of the things that she says in this WordPress video. Blockquote is not for making a paragraph “stand out”. It does do that but blockquote is a semantic tag which means that it means something when you use it; it means that you are quoting someone else.

I would also add that although you have a lot of formatting options the best thing to do is use them sparingly. Inline formats are like exclamation marks – they are most powerful when they are rare.

WordPress Pages: What are they?

So you want to know about pages on WordPress? Great, keep reading.

Pages are a great way to add sections to your site that do not change very often. You WordPress.com blog comes with a few already.

We here at Thanet Creative Writers have used pages for the many different types of forms that we have. Forms for reporting problems, forms for asking questions, forms for asking to join the Thanet Creative Writers charity, and so forth.

There is a page which carries our list of projects and another for the blog listing.

You get the idea.

Typical uses of a page on a writer’s blog might be:

  • About the author
  • For books they have published
  • Press coverage and positive mentions
  • Images and useful information for the press to use
  • Upcoming appearances and book signings
  • A booking form
  • Upcoming releases

Embedding a video in WordPress.com

If you search, you will find a lot of advice on how to embed a video in your post. They are almost all wrong!

The reason that most advice is wrong is that the self hosted WordPress and premium WordPress differ significantly from the free hosting WordPress.

The way to embed a video from YouTube that works with a free WordPress.com account is to copy the address (aka URL) of the video from the title bar of your browser.

If you look up, right now, you should see a thin box at the top which starts “https://thanetcreativewriters.wordpress.com/” that text is the address of the page.

Paste the YouTube address, which begins “https://www.youtube.com/” on a line all by itself. When you publish (or save and preview) there will be a video there. Not just any video but the one you were just looking at on youtube.

I spend hours figuring that out and got very frustrated. I hope that tip saves you some tears.

WordPress Projects

This is a slightly more advanced part of WordPress. The chances are, you will not want to play with this yet. But if you do this is something you may find useful.

If this section is not for you, skip it.

Before you try WordPress Projects

Projects are best saved for when you have at least one book or article accepted by a publication.

That said, it never hurts to play with things.

If you feel ready to start

First dive into your settings and have a good look round. You will find that you can enable projects. I’ve deliberately not told you where because you will should have enough confidence in your own ability to find it by yourself if you are going to do this.

Now you will have a projects option under pages (which is under posts). Click add and add a project. Notice how much it is like adding a page or a post.

Use your projects to add your published books and stories. One per project.

Now create a page and use the shortcode (I did say this was advanced) to create a projects listing page. Now you have a page of your books (or whatever) that you can add new items to whenever you wish.

More advanced uses would be to set categories for books, short story and anthology, and speaking engagements. You could create a page for each one and show only that category on the page by editing the short code.

Over to you

I hope that something in this post was helpful. There is a lot more that I could explain about using WordPress.com but this blog, as a whole, was never meant to be the WordPress fan club and at some point you will want to get back to writing.

  • What tips or hints might you add?
  • What is your advice to WordPress using writers?
  • How have you been getting on with your blog?