« BACK  |  PRINT

RS

FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR

Tips for Redstate Writers

Notes from a RS hack

What makes a good diary?

I’m hardly John Steinbeck when it comes to writing here on Redstate, but I do a bit of it in my job. A RS diary doesn’t really bear much resemblance to geeky I/T books and papers, but the thought process is somewhat similar. In addition, there are some “dos and don’ts” for RS blogs diaries in particular. Let’s visit some of these items, shall we?

Style items

  • Think before you write – I always tell my friends that I do my best thinking in the shower. Many times I will come up with an outline of what I’d like to write while in shower-thought-mode. The trick, of course, is remembering what you’ve thought of between the time you think of it and when you sit down at the computer. A brain-dump at the PC is not normally going to provide a high-quality product.

  • Outline – (Just like I’m doing here) It makes it much easier for a reader to absorb what you’re saying if it’s served in small chunks. Furthermore, an outline provides a logical sequence of items that tie back to a larger theme. You may not use an explicit “bullet point” outline, but each paragraph should hit key points one at a time. Remember when Miss Landers taught you 8th grade English? I’m sure an outline to your term paper was a requirement. It works here, too.

  • Use good grammar and spelling – People will judge you by your writing, and if the mechanical stuff is wrong, it is distracting, and your message will be lost. I see so many RS diaries that are just sloppy, and that’s a shame, because many have worthwhile content. Browsers now have built-in spell-check (e.g. Firefox). Get off of Internet Explorer and get a real browser. (Better yet, buy a Mac…)

  • Use an intro and conclusion paragraph – In public speaking, they tell you to “tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them”. Make the sale at the end.

  • Use citations – Your opinion is nice, but if you’re trying to convince the readership about something, it usually isn’t worth much unless you’re a recognized authority on a topic. We DO have diarists here that fall into that category, but not many. PLEASE use links to other web articles… and use the “link” button in the editor to do it, so the links are clickable (probably my biggest RS 3 pet peeve). A well-cited article is not only more convincing, it’s more useful to the readers as a reference for future use.

RS specific hints:

  • Really short diaries are unacceptable – Don’t just post two sentences and a link. If it’s that brief, post it on an open thread (you can usually find one).

  • Don’t just post rehashes of other articles. There’s a reason you want to post it. Tell the readership what YOU THINK, not just what the article author thinks.

  • Be original – Check the diaries list to see if anyone else has posted on the topic in the last 24 hours. It’s annoying to see six different diaries on the same article/YouTube video. If you have something really profound and substantial to say that is longer than a normal thread comment, post a new diary. Otherwise, post a comment to an existing thread. Originality is another one of my pet peeves. I try to only recommend diaries that have significant original content and/or very well-thought theses.

  • Don’t be shrill – I know that in times like this, we’re all really angry, upset, and prone to vent. My grandfather was an English professor, and he could absolutely dismantle someone with words – not curse words, but well-placed words that ripped them with logic and wit rather than insults and 4-letter words.

Technical hints:

  • USE LINKS – I said it above when discussing citations, but I’ll say it again…use the buttons on the editor to include real, clickable links.

  • Use HTML, if you dare – In my signature line, I have a link to a diary I wrote a while back with FAQs about Redstate. In that FAQ doc is a link to some diaries that Neil Stevens wrote on using HTML. Now HTML isn’t as needed as it was in the old RS 2.0, as we now have the editor that permits some of the “tricks” to be done with the buttons. But HTML still works, to some degree.

  • Embed videos, when you can – YouTube and a lot of the other video hosting sites provide a way to cut/paste HTML “object” tags. You can get the tag from YouTube and just paste it into your diary.

  • Use pictures when appropriate – HTML tags (IMHO) work best here. Make sure the width of your picture is no larger than about 400 pixels so it doesn’t “bleed over” into the other content on the page.

This is a classic example of me not remembering all of my brilliant ideas from the shower, because I’m sure there is more to be said. My objective is to try to help others write successful diaries that are appreciated by the rest of the readership. Like I said, I’m not necessarily the authority on good diaries; this is just based on my own observations and writing experience. Please contribute any thoughts you might have in the comment thread.


bsThe Unofficial Redstate FAQ

Get Alerts