The Lite Side

How to Write for Your Weblog

- 2002.12.17

You've heard about them. You've read a few. You briefly considered learning enough HTML to automate the production of daily episodes to some degree - and rejected it as not worth the effort.

But has anyone ever talked to you about what to say in your web log? We didn't think so. You'll have plenty of ideas, though, after you read the Lite Side's

How to Write for Your Weblog

First of all, get out of your head that you have to be able to write in the conventional sense. Weblogs don't take submissions; everyone writes their own. About the only technical skill needed is the ability to post text documents on the Web. About the only writing skill needed is the ability to push those funny buttons on the thing . . . you know . . . that thing with letter keys on it.

Well, there's a little more to it, or the article'd be over by now. Here's some tips, log fans.

Every 100 words of weblog requires reading 100 sites. That's a good rule of thumb for a quality log . . . it's not like you can just sit down and type words without doing some background research (that's for dweebs who write "columns" instead of "weblogs"). Read a lot. Search Google for stuff to read. I'm like totally serious here.

Avoid making fun of the word "weblog." It's kind of an unwritten rule. Like "Weblogs wobble but won't go down," is just not said. And learn to pronounce it correctly. Say "Webble-ogg," not "Web-log," or "We-blog." Some people call them just blogs, but that is like so gross it is beyond gross.

Some people just write about what they do each day. In excruciating detail.

Today I wrote two tests and edited two course outlines. I ate hot dogs for lunch. They were those big kosher kind, all beef, that they serve outside of Costco. I love onions on hot dogs. Chopped up in little cubical chunks. I didn't have any onions today, but that's a good thing, says the wife. Anyway, the tests need to be run off tomorrow, so luckily for me I talked the wife into getting some paper for me to make copies with at school. She bought 10 reams of paper. She thought I could just borrow a ream from her stack upstairs. Ha ha ha. I'd go through a ream in a day or two with 200 students.

Use Ellipsis dotdotdots. Learn to write like Herb Caen, late of the SF newspaper world . . . put three dots between phrases . . . never really end a sentence . . . write lots of fragments . . . but you don't need to drop names of famous people or talk about food unless you want to . . . just keep writing . . . don't stop . . . if you get under 35 wpm the computer will explode . . . it's been rigged by some insane guy and Christian Slater only has 24 hours to stop him . . . or maybe it's not Christian Slater, maybe it's Ed Begley Jr . . . BAM

Either stop capitalizing, or CapitAlize raNdomLy. this is to throw off potential terrorists . . . if they don't know where the capitals are, they can't attack them....

Write everything you think. This only works if you type really really fast or think really really slow. Weblogs are a sort of stream of consciousness thing, and if you don't write everything you think then future psychologists will have nothing to go on to explain why one day you hijacked a blueberry pie truck and dumped the cargo into the bay. Of course, the environmentalists will have a field day describing all the dire environmental consequences of dumping pies in the bay, while the fact that you did it in Oakland will soil that city's already tarnished reputation. Speaking of crime in Oakland that reminds me of a story I read once about criminals being sentenced to live in a place called Purgatory which was a fenced in section of Utah (maybe) where you got deposited with a bag of supplies and left to fend for yourself along with thousands of other free spirited inmates. You could just sort of wall off one or two neighborhoods in Oakland and do the same thing - you know the ones I'm talking about, right, not the ones where you live, but the ones on the other side of the freeway/train tracks/loading docks/university. Have you ever tried to park at UC Berkeley? What a joke! There must be 20 cars for every available space. Every wide spot in the road on campus is a restricted parking spot. Wonder who decides who gets the nice parking spots? And by the way, where do parking enforcers park their own cars? Does anyone out there know?

Every time more than two people meet, call it a party. No normal human would spend so much time with so many drunk people and think it was interesting enough to tell us about. If you're honest, you'll admit you spend more time sitting at home flipping channels on the tube than you do partying. To expand your apparent party domain, you'll have to start describing every "three's a crowd" scenario you run into as a party. "Yeah, me and Alison and Dano were partying the other night, and she's all 'Let's go out, this place sucks,' and I'm all for that so we split as soon as the elevator stopped and those doors did that wooshy thing and opened all up."

It's okay to link to stuff within your paragraphs, but only if it doesn't exactly match or lead to a logical site. For example if you link to Jonathan Harris' name it should go to Pixar's A Bug's Life site instead of to anything related to Lost in Space, like any normal person would expect. Give the reader a mild headache if you can. Oh, the pain.

Insert random pictures from time to time, but don't use captions. Don't use the picture as a link either. It's just a picture. Let it be.

Just don't be using no slang. As soon as authentic slang is typed, it's obsolete. The other days someone says to me, after I says "All your base," he says, "That is so, like, last year," so just because you've heard the slang doesn't make it automatically hip to use.

Now you just need something to write about. Good luck with that. I don't have a clue what to tell you. I gotta go meet someone in the stairwell for a party. Later.

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