Writing for the screen

After sending out my last blog post on twitter with the Future of Freelancing hashtag (#ffrl), I got a comment asking for more information on the conference. (Comment!) I’ve pulled out my notes again.

A recurring question when Web-savvy word-people meet is if you need to write differently online. A few years ago I attended an online writing class at Poynter and they said no. That good writing is still good writing regardless of the medium.

But still, I look for different things online; things that are in keeping with the medium — connections to people, quick access to information, answers to questions, real-time information.

At the conference, the editor-in-chief of the Bay Citizen Jonathan Weber said that you don’t write for two mediums in the same way. That you wouldn’t write for radio in the same way that you write for print. And the same is true online. The Web has a more freewheeling voice.

In the session “Beauty and the Blog,” a group of bloggers got together to discuss, well, I’m not sure exactly what.

I just went surfing through their sites for the answer, and it proved again that everyone defines “blog” differently. I did bookmark a possible lesson in narrative non-fiction from Constance Hale’s blog Sin and Sintax. (She moderated the discussion.) And then checking out Annalee Newitz’ io9 blog site that she edits as part of the gawker network, I watched a bizarre video from Taiwan that broke the news to me that there’s some allegations swirling around about Al Gore.

Such is the online adventures of skimming blogs, and there similarly wasn’t any consensus to be shared from the session. Again, the idea of voice came up. Blogs are a place for voice. (Echo….) Marci Alboher said that blogs are about curating the world. Annalee expressed that she asks her bloggers to do 3-4 blogs a week that they think may go viral. (I bet the animated Gore video fit in that category.)

Since I do believe that a key element of Web writing is that it’s useful, I will round out this post with the most practical information that came from the BNET senior editor Karen Steen. While many moan about if SEO is hijacking good writing, Steen just offered tips on how to do it.

1. You start with a subject you’re interested in and google the subject to see that words come up.

2. You go to “google insights” to compare the different terms.

  • An example: Google gives me “online writing” as a popular phrase as well as “writing for the Web.” Insights finds that from “online writing” top searches are “free online writing” and “online jobs.” So maybe this post should have been how to write for free in hopes of getting an online job.

3. You can also check Google Trends to see how different terms are trending.

  • Google trends shows “San Francisco earthquake” as a “spicy hot search.” Indeed, an earthquake woke me up this morning. Maybe I should have blogged about it.

3 Responses to “Writing for the screen”

  1. Future of Freelancing Says:

    [...] More TK (the post is titled Writing for the Screen) [...]

  2. Constance Hale Says:

    Will finish with an essay that summarizes what I, as moderator, got out of the session in a couple of days (I’ll post it on http://www.sinandsyntax.com, but to me the most interesting thing that came out of the session was the idea that a blog–a good blog, a beautiful blog, a blog of journalistic and aesthetic merit–might best be thought of as an ESSAY.

    The blogger is the modern-day Montaigne.

    And I thought it interesting how little the three panelists considered SEO when deliberating over their words. To paraphrase Wendy Lesser, better to have one person read the thing in thirty years than 30 people read it today.

  3. admin Says:

    Thanks Constance! It’s a thrill to have you comment. I also think of blogs as conversation, and this proves it. I look forward to reading your essay.

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