Reading Outside Your Genre: Blogs

17 Jul

One of the most common pieces of advice that I hear from writers is to read outside of your genre.  In fact, some writers go so far as not reading anything inside their genre while they are writing.  Which I think is taking things a bit far, but…  The point is, it’s very good advice.

Why?  Here’s another piece of advice I hear all the time:  “Even if your story is has almost exactly the same topic/characters/theme/plot as someone else’s, it will still be different.  Put your own spin on it.”  Again, a fantastic piece of advice.  But how do you do it?  One way to get ideas is by following our first piece of advice.  Every genre has its own tropes and conventions, things that are common amongst the majority of stories in that genre.  But some of the best work in any genre involves tropes and conventions that aren’t normally a part of it.  And you won’t know what those are if you only read inside your own genre.

Blogging is a lot like writing.  There are tons of blogs out there, about almost every topic you can think of.  So how do you make your own blog stand out?  Here’s My 5 Step Plan to Writing a Rocking Blog:

1.  Identify the goals of your blog.  Who is your target audience?  What are you trying to tell them?  What methods will you use?  What style will you write in?  What is your blog’s genre?

2.  Look at other blogs in the same genre.  How do they approach their readers?  What tips and tricks do they use?  What formatting do they employ?  What are the most common templates for blog posts?  How-tos?  In-depth analysis?  Anecdotes?  What style do they adopt?

3.  Decide how to satsify your target readers.  How can you use what you’ve learned reading other blogs to create a blog that people will want to read?  What have those other blogs done right?  What have they done wrong?  Which of their techniques can you make work for you?

4.  Now read blogs that aren’t in your genre.  What kinds of things don’t your genre’s blogs talk about?  What else do you find interesting besides the standard fare of your genre?  What blogs grabbed your attention?  What techniques did those other bloggers use that made you want to keep reading?  How could these bloggers maintain your interest in topics you had never been interested in before?

5.  Apply what you’ve learned.  What do you see on blogs in other genres that could be adapted to your own blog?  What things in those other blogs could apply to blogs in general?  What topics did you come across that were relevant to your own genre, but rarely addressed?  What did you find that could make your blog stand out?  What will be your twist?

Of course, digging through hundreds and thousands of off-topic blogs is tough.  There has to be a way to narrow down your search.

And you can find it right here on the Chimney.  As a special service just for my readers, I’m going to point you to some of the out-genre blogs that I use to keep my perspective wide.

Tune in every Saturday, when I will write a post featuring a blog outside of my own genre, and why I read it.  I will explore what makes it such a fantastic blog in its own right, and why it is relevant to those of you who may be reading my blog, even if you don’t share a genre with me.

Keep in mind that I am first a spec fic writer and reader, then a fiction reader.  I will be looking at blogs that mostly apply first and foremost to writers, because that’s what I am, and its also my target audience.

So the chances that I will be high-lighting sports blogs; or that if you run a site on how to buy and use a gas grill the blogs I feature will give added value to your site are slim.

But they could!  The whole point of me writing this post was that you never know what could attract readers.

Hopefully, this feature series will kick off Saturday, July 23.  I’ll be plugging it wherever I reasonably can.  Please feel free to mention it to your friends, fellow bloggers, and also your readers.  If you have a blog you think should be featured, or if you like to submit your own blog, don’t hesitate to e-mail me.  You’ll find my contact details on my Contact Me page, in the menu at the top of the page.

I’m also going to put this out on my Twitter, so feel free to Re-Tweet (and follow me if you aren’t already) if the mood strikes you.  There are tons of awesome blogs out there that you should be reading, and I’m going to do my best to introduce as many of them to you as I can.

Because I’m curious about how well people police their identities on the internet, I’m going to wait until six hours before the each post go online to notify the bloggers in question.

(Pro Tip:  Setting up Google Alerts and other services to keep track of how your name is mentioned on the internet is not egotistical.  It is good social net-working practice and it can not only improve your relationship with others by making you aware of their interest in you, it can help nip problems in the bud.)

Now, she doesn’t know it yet, but I’ve already selected Romantic Comedy author Tawna Fenske at Don’t pet me, I’m writing to be the first featured blog.  It was in fact one of her posts that inspired this series, because she is just that awesome.  Don’t wait for the post, go follow her immediately!  And feel free to tell her who sent you. 😉


Posted by on July 17, 2011 in Authors, Blogging, How To


Tags: , , , , , ,

4 responses to “Reading Outside Your Genre: Blogs

  1. Arlee Bird

    July 17, 2011 at 9:29 PM

    This sounds like a wonderful feature to showcase other blogs and bloggers. I’ve done the same on occasion and, in fact, am doing a showcase series of my own each Wednesday for an indefinite time.

    Signing up for Google Alerts is a great idea. I have discovered several wonderful bloggers who had mentioned my blog or my Blogging from A to Z Challenge and I would probably never been aware without being “alerted”. It’s a great tool.

    Like my writing and my life in general, my blog is somewhat genre-less. I fall into the community of writers mostly and I do tend to focus on writing or my own written word. But I have no qualms about popping up with some off the wall topics at times and I do follow several blogs that are out of my genre. It’s good to keep some variety in ones life I think.

    Tossing It Out

    • atsiko

      July 17, 2011 at 10:13 PM

      I’ve discovered that Romance writers Like Tawna have some of the most entertaining writing blogs out there, and since a lot of writing advice can be adapted between genres anyway, they’re something that more non-Romance writers should be reading. There are tons of other blogs I’ve found that are surprisingly writer-relevant without being by writers, and so I think anything that encourages cross-pollination is good, and can help start a much more useful dialogue in the authosphere. Which is not to say people aren’t already doing this. But we could be doing so much more.

      One of the great things about Google Alerts is that it helps you find out who’s talking about you and respond in a timely manner if you so choose. When I was working on The Oddville Press, Google Alerts helped us to maintain a strong web presence and keep a dialogue going which brought us many readers and encouraged more submissions. People we were publishing would post on their blogs and in forums about how happy they were to be picked up by us, and we could pop in and say how awesome they were, and just keep people talking. Blogging is part of social networking, and things like Google Alerts help remind us of that.

      I can’t deny that there’s a bit of a WIIFM element to the showcase. I’ve only recently found the time to get back into active blogging, and this is a great motivator for me to become involved in the discussion again, and make people I consider some of the most awesome writing bloggers out there aware of my existence. But it’s a mutual benefit. They get free pimping, and I probably get linked to from at least a few awesome sites.

      • Arlee Bird

        July 17, 2011 at 10:27 PM

        By all means feel free to consider my blog in what you are doing. I seem to reach a lot of readers, primarily on the reputation of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, but I would certainly prefer to be more recognized for my writing.

        Oh, and I was glad to see the sudden revived activity from your blog.

        Tossing It Out

      • atsiko

        July 18, 2011 at 12:51 AM

        Yeah, I was surprised there were some people ready and waiting to get involved in my blog again. I’ve been working through a bunch of school and a two month mystery illness, and that kind of time period has spelled death for many a blog. I’m hoping to get a regular posting schedule running again, so look forward to plenty more where this came from. 🙂

        I’ll definitely keep your blog in mind. You’ve got some nifty stuff going on over there.


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