Why Some Blogs Make Me Cranky

By Sharla Rae

Like most of you, I don’t have a lot of time to cruise the web and read blogs. If the blog site is pretty, that’s nice, but I don’t really care. I’m interested in content. I pick subjects that pique my interest and choose many that are recommended by writing friends. I love blogs that make me laugh, but I also look for the latest industry news or handy craft and technical tips.

But . . .

Sometimes I’m disappointed and feel like my time has been wasted.

Allow me to preface my cranky opinions. I am no expert on writing blogs. I’m still learning. In fact some of my first blogs committed the very sins I’m listing here. But since I started blogging at WITS, I’ve learned a lot, mostly by reading other blogs and deciphering
what I liked or disliked about them.

Blogs That Make Me Cranky

  • The title is catchy but has nothing to do with the subject of the blog.
  • The blogger takes forever to get to the point.
  • There is no real point.
  • The promised information is buried so deep in convoluted paragraphs that it’s difficult to find.
  • The entire blog is an in-your-face self promotion

What Makes A Blog A Joy To Read

  • Catchy titles that grab attention and sound bite the tone and content.
  • The subject of the blog is clear in the 1st paragraph: We all use lead in paragraphs, but I subscribe to less is better. Get to the point.
  •  Short paragraphs and when possible, lists: Don’t wanna wade knee deep in verbiage. I tend to scan for info and love easy to spot facts/points in lists.
  •  When deep paragraphs can’t be avoided (as in research info), the use of special devices like centered subtitles, colored font, and underlining all help highlight the high points. Graphics and pictures liven things up too.
  • A little humor can’t hurt but if it’s inappropriate, I think personalizing the blog is great. It helps me relate to the writer, and I’m more likely to leave a comment.
  • I like seeing a writer’s books & projects, but I’d rather see them at the end of the blog or in a short bio. Blatant promo is boring because the writer gets everything and I get nothing for my time.

I can’t get away with being cranky unless I list a few blogs that all of us here at WITS really like, right?

First, here’s two how-to sites on blogging for all kinds of situations and subjects:

Author Blogs
Daily Blog Tips: This site also lists other sites with blogging tips and how-tos

Favorite Blogs:

Jenny Hansen’s More Cowbell: She’s got brass and sass and dives into the subject with  humor and savvy info.
Writers Unboxed: Industry, craft and everything on writing
Kristen Kathryn Rusch: Amazing writer, and on Thursdays, insightful industry posts
Larry Brooks’ Storyfix: great craft guru
Jane Friedman, of Writers Digest Fame
Kristen Lamb: Deep paragraphs here but phenomenal information so she’s well worth it.
Bob Mayer’s Write it Forward: Honest industry news and great writing tips too

3 Agent Blogs:

Rachelle Gardner
Bookends Literary Agency
Pub Rants

My likes may be your dislikes. Tell us what makes you cranky when reading blogs. Also, what are your favorite blogs?

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33 Responses to Why Some Blogs Make Me Cranky

  1. Thanks for the handy list of faves, Sharla Rae! I am a blog newbie. Some of your “cranky alert” points made me wince; some generated an internal EEE! Two posts in a row. WITS gets a spot in my Blog Keepers folder.

    I love to visit Margie Lawson’s Pubbed Grad Blog, and not just b/c I’m a HUGE Margie fan. She takes excerpts from published Margie grad books and dissects them. It’s a “lesson in a blog.” Great refresher for Margie grads. Powerful lessons in how to create page-turners for those not familiar with her techniques.

    • Laura Drake says:

      Sorry, know you wrote this to Sharla, but any Margie grad is a bud of mine! *waving*
      Don’t you aspire to be interviewed there? That’s right up there with my daydream of accepting a Golden Heart!

    • Sharla Rae says:

      Thanks for commenting Gloria. We actually have too many favs to list in this blog. :) Perhaps someday the blog will have have consist of only that list.

  2. Thanks for your links :) If you insist, Sharla … I have a list on my side bar. My first cyber friend Christi Corbett, my first Writer’s Digest friend, PK Hrezo. I bought Kristen’s books and I am taking Bob’s six week workshop. The “successful query” series on Guide to Literary Agents and Porter Anderson on Jane’s newest blog.

    I have posted and removed dozens of links in the last two years. I ditto most of what you don’t like. Also, black pages with red letters, flashing neon-colors and graphics that move as I am reading, turn me off. It took me a while to learn blog manners, create a pleasant format and incorporate what I read on Elizabeth Craig’s site to make my posts stronger.

    I love group blogs because they offer different perspectives each week. In particular love the slap-downs here at WITS. Two of my other favs are Magical Musings and Writers Unplugged. All around informative and good reads are WITS, Bookends, Romance University and Rachelle Gardner.

    • Sharla Rae says:

      Thanks for commenting and I totally agree on the flashing graphics! They give me a headache. Thanks for mentioning it. Graphics can add but in the case of of neon signs . . . NOT!

  3. Sharla, I’m afraid a few of your points also made me wince. Ouch! I, too, am a newbie and there is much to learn in blogland. Thank you for taking the time to point out what gives you the crankies and lists of your faves. You never disappoint, my friend!

    • Sharla Rae says:

      Thanks Carra. Like I said, I’m constantly learning and am no expert but any reader, I know what I like and don’t. I scan blogs first and if I’m hooked I read every word so I don’t miss anything. Are there any other scanners out there?

  4. These are all great blogs. Love your breakdown of what attracts and repels you from a blog. :) I couldn’t agree more.

    Angela @ the Bookshelf Muse

  5. Catie Rhodes says:

    You’ve hit all my pet peeves. One of my biggest eye rollers is the old, “And why did I need to read this?” There’s a lot of pressure on writers to blog. A lot of writers a) don’t have time to do it properly, b) hate doing it, and c) don’t understand how to do it. It’s way different than writing fiction, and it’s hard to tell what will interest people. That said, there are a few simple things one can do to make a blog more appealing.

    Thanks for this post. Interesting to see someone thinks about the same stuff I think about.

    • Sharla Rae says:

      You hit the nail on the head Catie. Fiction writing is different from blog writing. I think fellow writers and fiction readers read blogs not only for info but also to become better acquainted with the blogger. With fiction it’s the story that’s important not the story teller.

  6. Jenny Hansen says:

    Hey, look at that! I’ve got “sass and brass”…who knew, right? :-)

    Great blog, Sharla!!

  7. Chuck says:

    Amen and amen. I love short, entertaining or informative blogs. If I want to read a book there are plenty of great ones. Especially at RMFW!

  8. Karen Lin says:

    Thank you Char. Great blog on entertaining vs cranky-making blogging. And you (along with Strunk and White) practiced what you preached. Short, sweet, and with helpful take-away.

  9. Kristi R says:

    I’m getting my thoughts together for my first blog. Your lists of ‘Joy to Read’ vs. ‘Makes me Cranky’ are full of helpful ideas!

    Thank you for the great blog.

  10. MonaKarel says:

    Char, you hit so many of my buttons! Slow loading pages and nonsensical graphics send me straight to the delete button.

  11. Sharla Rae says:

    Glad you liked it Mona and thanks for commenting. I usually hesitate to point out dislikes because I never want to give offense. But I realized how many of those sins I’d committed myself and thought maybe my observations might help other bloggers.

  12. Chris Devlin says:

    Another great blog post from WITS, one of my favorite sites. I agree with all of the above and would add: Those ads or sidebar items that follow you as you scroll down, and they kind of bounce? Drive me insane. Insane, I tell you! I think it’s an OCD thing. Bloggers, don’t do that.

    I love all the sites you mentioned and also some folks I’ve found through social media: Writer Susan Bischoff’s blog: http://susan-bischoff.com/2011/11/16/i-have-never-been-more-a-part-of-a-story/
    Writer Kait Nolan: http://kaitnolan.com/2011/11/16/forgive-me-muse-i-have-not-written/
    They both have a lot of great incisive blog posts about the nature of the business and self-promotion in addition to helpful writer tips. Very authentic voices, which is something I look for in the blogs I follow.

    So I hope you’ll take this in the spirit intended–as I said, I’m a touch OCD, or a lot OCD, and one of my niggles is misspelled names. It’s RachelLE Gardner. Respect.

  13. Sharla, my pet peeve is blogs that go on too long. Keep them short and sweet, like this one. And thank you for the great links. There’s a couple of new ones I’m going to check out. :)

  14. timlobrien says:

    Thank you for the advice Sharla. I am new to the blogging world. I’ve dipped my toe in the waters a few times and expect the shark from Jaws to lunge out at me any moment. Your tips and other links may help me to keep me on solid ground, maybe.

    • Sharla Rae says:

      I know what you mean Tim. Blogging can be scary the first few times. The good news is that it’s not as bad as standing before an audience and giving a speech. Now that really does make my knees wobble. :) I was lucky to start blogging with my crit partners here at WITS. I knew they wouldn’t let me make a fool of myself and that knowledge has allowed me to grow in the blogging arena.

  15. Terry Wright says:

    Great advice, Sharla, and lots of interesting comments. WITS is my first blog stop as I blog hop, usually early AM as many days a week as possible. I enjoy blogs that make me think, and they don’t have to be about writing. Because there are so many good writers’ blogs out there, I decided not to add to the flood and make my blog about current events, a commentary on local, national, and world news, not often flattering but always open for discussion. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts on blogging with us.

  16. Sharla Rae says:

    Terry, thanks for commenting and Kudos to you for finding your niche. Blogging should be enjoyable. .

  17. Nancy Lee Badger says:

    I understand where you are coming from. As an author, it is a slippery slope of wanting to post interesting articles while promoting the latest release. I try to write articles about research or why I chose a particular setting, or how I came up with plot ideas using my former careers (EMT-firefighter-9-1-1 Dispatcher-Scottish games volunteer) and hope I help others in their writing. I still need to sell my books, so I place the covers and blurbs near the end. Thanks for the helpful links, too. ( http://www.nancylennea-inlove.blogspot.com )

  18. Vivian Davis says:

    Excellent blog post. Thanks especially for the blog recommendations!

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  20. Delightful blog! I Tweeted about this and hope others will read it.

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