Last week, I wrote about how some topics appear time and again—and why readers don’t care. So all you bloggers out there don’t have to bother with originality, right? Right?
Photo courtesy of Tambako the Jaguar on Flickr Creative Commons
Maybe the basic topic—character, dialog, marketing, plot—can stand repeat coverage, but you have to bring something new to the picture. Great in theory…but I’m the kind of gal who likes specific examples. Check out these strategies for breathing new life into questions that writers have probably been discussing since the first stick of charcoal marked the first cave wall.
Ways to Keep Old Classic Topics Fresh
- Explain the concept: Okay, technically this one doesn’t belong on the list. If you’re covering a classic topic, like active versus passive voice, you probably can’t add much to the explanations that are already out there. But don’t forget—at any given time, some of us are just starting out. We need to learn the basics, and we probably don’t even know what basics we need to learn. A great article on a basic topic is always welcome.
Read on for ways to add your own spin…
- Illustrate significance: Whydo you think a topic is worth covering again? Let readers know why they should care! For example…Classic Topic: Point of view (POV)
Fresh Approach: Address why point of view makes a difference—how a specific POV can change a story’s tone, impact mood, or make it easier or more difficult to communicate important info—to help your readers choose the best POV for their own work
- List techniques:Ask any violin student—there’s a big difference between knowing something in theory and putting that theory into practice. Give your readers specific strategies for putting an idea into practice.Classic Topic: Transitions
Fresh Approach: Provide a list of strategies for moving from one scene to the next, or a list of strategies for finding scenes that can be effectively replaced with transitions
- Create prompts/exercises: Give your reader tools to practice a skill or prompts to spark their creativity.
Classic Topic: Character creation
Fresh Approach: Pick prompts that focus on an aspect of character your readers might not have considered, just as character quirks
- Provide examples:It’s that theory versus application thing again—a lot of us learn a LOT better from seeing a skill put into practice than by hearing the theory.Classic Topic: Simile
Fresh Approach: Collect passages in which authors have used simile effectively—or think of different ways similes could be created and provide examples for each
- Show exceptions:Often it’s just as helpful to see times when the rule doesn’t apply as it is to see the rule in action.Classic Topic: Active versus passive voice
Fresh Approach: Rather than just showing readers the difference between active and passive, show them times when passive voice can be a writer’s best friend. When is it okay to use it?
- Make it personal: Need I say more? We’re writers—we know the power of stories to inspire, educate, illuminate, and motivate.
Classic Topic: Time management
Fresh Approach: Rather than sharing strategies for getting more organized, share your experience. What’s worked? What hasn’t? When you found a strategy that worked, how did that impact your life?
- Make connections: You can help readers see a topic from a different angle by making connections between seemingly unrelated ideas.
Classic Topic: Setting
Fresh Approach: Connect it with voice or mood—for instance discuss ways to influence a story’s mood through your choice of setting details
- Dissect the levels:Often a seemingly straightforward concept can have numerous layers.Classic Topic: Flashbacks
Fresh Approach: Look at the different ways authors relate memories, from the minimally disruptive “mini flashbacks” of character thoughts, journals, news articles; up to entire flashback scenes
- Illustrate a novel twist or approach: Everyone wants to read a new solution to an old problem. Why do you think fitness magazines sport articles like “5 Easy Ways to Lose Fat!” every month?
Classic Topic: Office organization
Fresh Approach: Perhaps you have a new idea for creating additional bookshelf space, for tracking projects, or filing ideas. Find a problem and present a new idea for solving it!
Your turn: do you see any over-covered topics in the world of writing blogs? What will get you to read a new article on an old topic?