As I catch up with all the backlog of my life and work after a solid month on the road, I’m still stoked by my amazing time spent with Alan Dean Foster.
While preparing for my meeting, I found a fascinating quote by Alan Dean Foster in an interview with Science Fiction and Fantasy News. He was being asked about the challenges of writing books from movie scripts:
I always tell people that no matter how good the special effects are, you will not have a successful film without the human element. People go to see Star Wars and they say the cities and battles are great, but they really want to see what happens to Luke and Vader and Leia. All the other stuff is window dressing. And I feel that way about books as well. You can write big ships, and space travel, and big battles, but if there’s not that human interest, whether it’s a human being or an alien or whatever, but if there’s not an emotion at the center, you have no story.
I feel that way about blogs.
Have You Lost the Human Element in Your Blog?
The key to writing a good blog post is to share your experience. I’m thrilled that the new iPhone whatever has been released, but your blog isn’t a newspaper. How about sharing how this new gizmo will impact your life and work. How do you use it? How will my life be better with it?
While there is a place for citizen journalism, most of us aren’t in that league. We are offering our tips, training, experiences, drawing from our own experiences and expertise. However, we often get caught up in the message, not the intent, and we tend to leave our voice out of the words.
People return to your blog because of YOU. Sure, they like the content you deliver, but it is how you deliver the message, it’s your words, your thoughts, your ideas that keeps them coming back for more. The rest is window dressing.
Think of your favorite television shows, podcasts, columnists, cartoonists, even your favorite authors, book series, or movies. You don’t keep coming back to them to see what they are wearing, what they are talking about, or their latest hairstyle. You keep coming back because you are vested in their personalities, their characters. What would a Harry Potter novel be without a Harry Potter to keep you interested? Would you really read a Scarpetta book by Patrica Cornwell with no Scarpetta?
What are your readers coming back for?
Step Outside of Yourself to Find the Human Element
We’ve been at this blogging gig stuff for a while now. We need to put more of ourselves back into our blogs, but we also have to step away from ourselves to find the magic in the world around us worth sharing with our readers.
In the same interview, Foster talks about his love of travel and how he gets some of his best ideas from his adventures. Discussing his book, “Sagramanda: A Novel of Near-future India,”and how he found his opening line from a taxi driver in Calcutta.
I had an Indian driver from New Delhi whose English was very poor, just as bad as my Hindi; but we managed. His family comes from a little village in the Himalayas. As I found him in New Delhi, I asked him why he was living here rather than in his village.
He gave me two reasons:
1. There was no work in the village for money.
2. A leopard ate his dog.
That kind of line you just can’t invent, and that’s how I started the book. “Sanji Gosch came to Sagramanda when a leopard ate his dog.” It’s like southern California where coyotes eat poodles. Since we don’t have leopards, we think it’s exotic. Travel teaches you things that you simply don’t expect. Had I not been to India, I’d never have known these cities, met these people, and written a book.
Over the past two years, I’ve been slowly working on changing this blog so it reflects more of your voice and your needs on blogging and WordPress. Next year, you will see things move in that direction. I stepped outside of my world and saw that the WordPress Community has a lot to say about how they blog and use WordPress, and I’m eager to share it with you.
I expect you to step outside of your world to find new thoughts and ideas as well. Here’s to courage and risk!
Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network, and author of Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging.