Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Blogging Basics: Grammar 101


Are you a writer? Of course you are . . . you are reading a blog post about blogging, so if you are a blogger then you are a writer! Pretty simple, but I’m thinking that lots of “bloggers” don’t see themselves as REAL “writers.” You know what I mean?
I’ve been blogging for a really long time. And, since I am also a writing instructor, and English teacher, and an editor for several published authors, I notice things that other people might not see. That’s my job. But that doesn’t mean that everything I read gets my “nit-picking” attention. I don’t sit in lectures or sermons and count all the times the speaker uses a split infinitive (well, we all do that) or leaves a modifier dangling (whatever that means exactly . . . ) But since I’m pretty good at what I do, I’ve had the opportunity to share a few tips with other writers on simple ways to make your blogging / writing more reader friendly.

I realize that since I’m a “Vintage Mama” that my blogging subjects might not typically be all that interesting to 20-somethings, or moms of toddlers, or even families with kids in middle school – even though I’ve had kids those ages for a really long time so I know something about those kinds of topics . . . but even so, it is not the subject matter so much as it is the presentation of whatever you feel is on your heart to share in a blog post.
Whatever YOU are writing about, take a few minutes to make sure that when you send it out there into the blogosphere that it looks professional (even if you are writing about potty training your little one) and eye-catching.
Here are a few tips that might be of interest to you:

Check your capitalization!

This might seem rather simple, but making sure that you capitalize when you should and don’t capitalize when you shouldn’t will help your writing to have a much tidier look and easier to read. The rules for capitalization are pretty simple: common nouns and proper nouns. That’s it! So for instance, if I am writing about “The girl who visited Outlandia,” then I DON’T capitalize “girl” (because that could be any ol’ girl), but I DO capitalize “Outlandia” (because that is a specific place in someone’s imagination). BUT, if I wanted to write: “Lorinda, the lavender lady from over the sea,” well, then I WOULD capitalize “Lorinda,” because that is a specific, particular girl, but I WOULDN’T capitalize “over the sea” (unless Over the Sea is the name of a particular country in an imaginary universe.)
So just take a minute to re-read your blog post before you send it out for the whole world to see. Watch for sentences like this one: “Yesterday, I planted Roses in my garden, and the Bugs ate all the leaves Overnight.” Or, how about this . . . . “My Family and I were waiting for the Dog to come Home.” Even though “family” is a specific “family” (your family), unless you are writing “the Jones family . . . ” you don’t ever need to capitalize the word “family” (well, unless it is the name of a singing group like, “Come out on Sunday night to hear The Singing Jones Family). But that is a different blog post for another day, I guess.
Also, you don’t need to capitalize the word “dog” even though it is YOUR dog. But if you are writing about your dog Tilly, then you capitalize your dog’s name. See what I mean? And then the word “home.” Again, you don’t need to capitalize the word “home” even though it is a specific home (your home), unless you are writing about “The Cinderella Home” or “The Sleeping Beauty Home” at Disney World. Make sense?

Is that a sentence?

Here’s something that is as important as using capitalization correctly. Since I teach a writing class for a local university, I often see sentences that aren’t, actually, sentences. What’s that mean? Well, again the basic principle is pretty simple: a subject and a predicate. Those are just kind of fancy words for “what you are talking about” and “what happened to that someone or something.” So, for instance: “My big brown dog Rover ran across the dirt road into the cornfield.” Simplified, this is ABOUT “dog” and WHAT HAPPENED is “ran.” All the rest of the words give more information, but without those two main words, you don’t actually have a sentence.
It is really easy to get going on putting your thoughts down in writing, especially when you are expressing a rather complex idea or concept, and forget where you started the sentence. So you just STOP writing. And what you have is not a complete sentence. Like this: In the morning, right after breakfast. WHAT? WHO did WHAT in the morning right after breakfast? For a sentence to be a complete sentence, it has to have both the subject and the part that tells us something about the subject.
Did you proofread?
Another way to improve your blogging / writing is to be sure you proofread, preferably out loud. That way you will not only SEE the words and sentences, but you will HEAR them and that will help you realize when you have an incomplete sentence. Take a few minutes to check your spelling as well as your sentence structure to make sure that your writing is easy to read. This might be a good time to check to make sure that you used the words you really meant to use! Especially if you have spell check on your computer, you will want to double check to make sure that it didn’t automatically change a word from what you actually meant to say to something that could be funny, or ridiculous, or just plain confusing.
Nothing to see here!
For a blog reader, it always makes for a more interesting post if you add pictures / images to your writing. Gone are the days when most people read books, all in black and white. Now if you still read books (that would be me, but not everyone does that on a regular basis), perhaps you would read a long blog post that is all just text. Line after line of text with nothing to capture your visual curiosity will often cause a reader to STOP reading. Even though I read a lot of old-fashioned books, somehow when I’m reading something on a computer or other device screen, my eyes have a hard time focusing for extended paragraphs of words only. Add a few images to keep your reader . . . . reading!
Here’s another word of encouragement – if you promote your blog posts on social media, NEVER just post a link without any images or title to intrigue a reader. If there is just a link, potentially interested readers won’t have any idea what the blog post is about, so more than likely they will just scroll right on by. People are very visual and beautiful images will draw a reader in and if they click on through to YOUR blog post, make sure that you give them something worth reading.
I have a few more tips for bloggers that I will be sharing next week, so be sure to stop back to discover ideas for making your blog reader-friendly!
Summertime Treasures featured from the TFT Party! Link up your blog post and find more great bloggers at the Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop and Linky Party.

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