I’ve written quite a wide number of blogs.
I’ve also recently finished the last draft of my first book. (I did craft a full length screenplay years ago. Perhaps deservedly, it’s sitting in a file drawer; a worthy effort, but some re-work from exhibiting film-worthy credentials.)
While it is probably obvious that there are meaningful differences in the approach and execution of the short, to-the-point, blog versus the wide, hopefully well-structured arc, of the full-length story, these are not all necessarily obvious.
Each blog, at least that I’ve written or read, tries to focus on a particular theme and mood. Some exhibit a fairly consistent point of view. The majority are variously effected in approach, via an extensive range of subject matter.
For instance, I’ve posted blogs relating to financial planning and insurance; to keep the messages credible, these have had a consistently serious tone, at least overall. These feature occasional bits of humour or a lighter touch. On the other hand, I have also have a strong drive to incorporating humourous comments and satirical ‘tips’, such as relating to holidays or other times of the year, as evident with many other blogs. Indeed, postings covering subjects with non-fiction themes have frequently ended with a list of twists and turns on the central topic, wherein I endeavour to be clever and amusing.
The key point here is that the blog author has a short window of fine tuning the balance of meaningful and non-serious phrasing. Including such see-saws keeps the mind-set less confined, willing to explore a wider pool of, perhaps less defined, viewpoints.
One of the offshoots of cognitively having such a writing mindset involves the handling of ‘Top 10’ lists. While some of my entries have been identified as such, I have tended to move away from the ‘Top 10’ per se, in favour of simply concluding posts with this type of list, but not necessarily ten options, perhaps more, perhaps less. This approach also means the blog can address a topic with a more worthwhile message than just a series of point form tangents. Whatever the dimension, infiltration of humour is usually tangible.
The length of a book obviously allows for multiple variations of a theme, largely by exploring its angles and alleyways.
That said, it is also clear that some unifying direction is core to the end product.
Many of the comments I received when sending out portions of an earlier version of my book draft identified that having a clearer understanding, or at least intention, of who is the target reader, helps define the structure. Appropriate language and terminology provide threads holding the structure together. Anecdotes provide reinforcement. Revelations which move the story forward provide glue. In other words, part of the final blueprint is likely attributable to feedback.
Valuable additions to the blueprint – so as to be easier to the modern reader’s more time-sensitive attention and discernment span – can arise from judicious subheadings and chapters. The angles explored in these building blocks make it easier to re-set to the big picture, when diversions supporting the general direction have been explored.
One of the best illustrations of the latter comes from inclusions of episodes which are not aligned exactly in chronology, but serve a greater purpose of layering the side road taken.
Whatever forks in the road of the novel-length effort are pursued, it remains pivotal to have any such twists and turns stay in sight of the main journey. This way, the reader has a better chance to arrive at the destination enriched, rather than unrewarded.
Indeed, one of the greatest rewards for the writer is the feeling that the reader closes the last page happy for having invested in your effort.
In summary, if a blog likely is focused on shining light on fenceposts, a book ideally diffuses the light to lead us on a shifting path to somewhere that glimmers.