Write This Way: Top Writing and Editing Links for December 6, 2009

Photo courtesy SXC.

Headline Writing Drives Traffic

Excellent blog post by Geoff Livingston, writing on his blog, The Buzz Bin, about the rules of headline writing that appear more relevant than ever in the social media age.

Geoff makes an assertion right off the bat that I couldn’t agree more with:

“It doesn’t matter what the property is. From Twitter and e-mail to document and blog post titles, your ability to write great headlines (or 140 character writing) matters more than ever. Great headlines drive traffic and interest.”

His advice is universal advice for good writing: use active verbs, get sassy or provocative (without being juvenile), provide a preview with your headline, be intentionally incomplete so that the reader wants to know more, and omit needless words.

Geoff reinforces something I hold to be true about writing in a Web 2.0 world—good writing, in the sense of work that is compelling and designed to draw readers into the story, still rules. My Twitter as Writing Coach series (Part I | Part II | Part III) focused on much the same thing—leveraging what good writers already know (and can always brush up on!) to stay relevant in today’s culture.

Are Women Better Writers Than Men?

Writing on FastCompany.com, Lydia Dishman reports on activism among women writers and fans to bring more respect to the work of female writers.

The firestorm over this topic was ignited in early November when Publisher’s Weekly (PW) announced their top 100 picks for 2009 – and not one of the top 10 was penned by a woman. Overall, even PW seemed concerned that no woman was listed in the top 10 and that women  were underrepresented on the whole in this list.

Lydia explains how things unfolded:

“The list unleashed a flurry of posts and comments across the blogosphere, most notably a press release entitled ‘Why Weren’t Any Women Invited To Publishers Weekly’s Weenie Roast‘ from the founders of WILLA (Women in Letters and Literary Arts), an organization dedicated to bringing attention to women’s literary accomplishments.

“She Writes, a Web community for women writers, declared Friday, November 13 a “Call to Action” day and encouraged members to protest by going out and buying books by women authors and voicing their concerns in response to Louisa Ermelino’s (PW’s Reviews Director) statement about the trade magazine’s ‘politically correct’ choices.”

This brief article on the controversy (as well the links provided) is worth reading in full. My personal take? I have compiled best-of lists for several different magazines, and I can tell you, it’s always a complicated process, no matter what criteria you use or how transparent your process is to the reader. My aim as an editor is to always have defensible reasons for any course of action I take on behalf of my publication.

That said, although I think the Fast Company headline for this article is a bit misleading (albeit sassy, like the previous link advised as good!), this dust-up is getting people talking about quality women authors—whether you define “best” as best selling, best writing or most compelling storylines. And that, perhaps more than PW’s list, may help women writers get the recognition that they of course deserve.

(P.S. Just for disclosure’s sake—I just joined She Writes at the invitation of a colleague. Looks like an interesting community!)

Essential Lines from 2009: Group Writing Project

Here’s a fun December project for bloggers to consider: Joanna from the Confident Writing blog is proposing an end-of-the-year group writing project/presentation. It’s very similar to a project she did at the end of 2008 entitled “Simply the Best.”

This post outlines the rules and the deadline, which is December 27, 2009. Bloggers are encouraged to submit their best work and talk about why the submitted post is representative of their blog. The key is to be able to a) pick a post that is “essential,” as the blogger defines it, to the spirit of their blog and b)write a brief summary of the post for inclusion in the post on the Confident Writer site.

Joanna does group writing projects throughout the year, so keep her in your RSS reader if you’d like to participate in other projects like this.

Bonus Links!

5 Ways to Be a Writer When You’re Not Writing

Alison Wells, writing on Studio Mothers blog, has great suggestions for keeping your writing alive while you work on other things.

Pen 2.0: Your scribblings go digital

Jacqueline Evans, writing on CNNMoney.com, reviews several new “smart pens,” pen/computer hybrids that can remember everything you write or sketch in a meeting, then upload it to your PC afterward. Some are able to record audio, as well.

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