I already wrote a post about how I write, but this is WHY I write like this. Why I always end by adding links and stuff, and start by putting in a few lines before the “read more” pagebreak, and so on and so on? Well, there are reasons for that!
I’ll start with the “read more”. I’ve got a fair number of followers now, people who signed up for email updates. Which is cool and I love you guys. But if I don’t put in a “read more”, that means you get the whole post in the email and there is no reason for you to click through to the blog. Which means I don’t get any ad revenue from you and, even more important, I have no way of accurately tracking which posts are most popular. The last is also true if you are just visiting the site, if I don’t use “read more”, then you will be able to read everything on the home screen without clicking into the actual post, and all I will see is a bunch of home page views and no specific post view counts.
And it’s not totally selfish! I have a huge variety of posts, I don’t expect anyone to be interested in all of them. So I give you a few sentences, you can read and decide if this is something that interests you or if you can skip it. I don’t want to clutter up your email with a big long thing, or make the homepage impossible to scroll through and find what you really want.
After the “read more” bar, I always try to get to the point pretty quick in the first couple paragraphs of a post. Not in the first sentence, I always start with a bit of an off-beat opening so people will want to keep reading, but I want to get to my point within the first or second paragraph, so if you run out of interest right at the beginning, at least you will have gotten the main idea I want to convey.
(The first few paragraphs are the Darr trailer version of the post, gives the mood and intrigues you and hopefully makes you want to read more, while also giving you a sense of what the whole thing will be like)
The exception to this is the SPOILER reviews for new movies in theaters. Which are consistently my highest view count by, like, A LOT. And I know it’s not people looking for analysis or anything, it’s people who just want the film spoiled. So why make them work for it? The first two paragraphs of these reviews are just the plot of the film. But hopefully at least some of those people keep reading the rest of the review and realize they like my writing and stick around, instead of just dashing off to the rest of the internet once they get what they want.
In the body of the review, every two-four paragraphs, I put in either a video or an image. It helps break up the blocks of text, helps you find your place in my very very long posts. And it keeps you interested, gives you something beyond just text. Sometimes lightens the mood in the more emotional pieces. Plus, of course, film is a visual medium, so it helps to have examples.
I tend to use videos more than images. Images throw my twitter out of whack for one thing, twitter will pick the largest image file in the post, no regard for if it is the header image or not, and use it. Which makes no sense because often the largest image file is some random thing I use as an illustration for a metaphor or something, not related to the actual topic of the post.
(thus this being the image for my Daawat-E-Ishq review, which makes no sense at all out of context)
For another, I am worried about stealing from people if I use images. Anyone from Dabboo Ratnani, to some other blogger who pulled the screenshot I want to use. I could of course always use my own screenshots, but that is a lot of work and would end up taking longer to find them and download and save and upload than actual writing the post (I’ve got a system for DDLJ, and even there it takes me about 2 hours to pull the screenshots for a post before I can start writing). So videos are best, if you can’t play them you get that little snapshot image of them, and they are hosted by youtube and embedded so no plagiarism concerns.
(I have the movie streaming with my last place memorized on Amazon, I pause it every time there is an image I like, hit the print screen button on my computer, paste it into Paint, crop out the address bar and stuff, save it as “DDLJ[Number] (I’m up to DDLJ511 now), then go back and play until the next image I want. Once I get to a good stopping place, I load all 20-50 images to wordpress at once. Takes about 2 minutes per image, and that’s probably about as fast as the screenshot process could ever be)
I also always put in links. When I am reading stuff myself, I like being able to click a link to get more info, so I want to offer you the same convenience. But it’s also for plagiarism. Early on I got stolen from really bad, some fake website popped up that was cutting and pasting my entire posts. And also other stuff probably cut and pasted from other websites. I found out about it when they happened to grab something that had a link in it and I got an alert that some website had linked back to me. So I started always putting a link in my posts just in case.
(Speaking of plageriarism…. I wasn’t plagiarized because I was so famous or brilliant or anything like Stevie Wonder, it was because I wasn’t. Famous, that is. The website just wanted random content to throw up and support their ads, they probably figured I was so unimportant and unnoticed I couldn’t make a stink, and no one would recognize my work as mine)
After I do all of this in the body of the post, I open up the “post settings” and check off the category boxes, add in tags, and write a twitter message. I am terrible at all of these things. The categories aren’t bad, if you click on the “Everything Else” option in the top menu, you can see what they all are. And if you click on one of them, it will pull up all those posts. But the Tags, I am hopeless with. It’s supposed to be a way of loosely sorting posts into related topics. But it only works if you remember what you have previously used as a Tag and type in the exact same thing. And of course I can’t remember, so posts on “Gauri Khan” for instance are all split between “Gauri”, “Gauri Khan”, and “Gauri and Shahrukh”.
Twitter is the real nightmare. I can write a little tweet right in WordPress and have it go up with the post at the same time the post is scheduled. But it doesn’t give me any of the tools you get if you write direct on twitter, it won’t suggest popular hashtags, or fill in twitter handles. So I have to make a guess at the hashtag and google the twitter handle and hope I copy it in correctly. And ultimately, since most of my posts are pre-scheduled, I have no way of knowing what hashtag will be appropriate or trending at the time the post actually goes up. But I try! I still conscientiously fill it in for every post.
And then I hop over to the Schedule feature and figure out when to put up the post. I try to have a post early in the morning Chicago time, so there is something for people to comment on first thing (including me, I like waking up and talking to you all while I get ready for work). And so it catches the India crowd in early evening. And then another one mid to late morning, while the Americans are at work and the Indians are getting ready for bed, and the Europeans are somewhere in the middle. And then another in the evening, when the Americans are still awake and the Indians are just waking up. If I can, I will put one in mid-afternoon my time too, but that is the least important time slot since it is the middle of the night India time. The exception to this being the birthday posts, to hit the Indian twitter trends, I tend to schedule those for a few minutes after midnight my time, so midday on the actual birthday in India.
And that’s it! That’s all the fiddly tiddly little stuff I do around the actual writing. Which takes almost as long as the actual writing, and is a lot less fun. But it all gives me tiny little incremental advantages that build up one reader at a time and help me grow.
(“Haule Haule” I win you over with my patient tedious work)