The Yellow Point Ecological Society is starting a regular biweekly blog.
Would you like to try your hand at writing?
by Guy Dauncey
- Choose a topic that is specific and tangible, such as the nuthatch, twinflowers, Roberts Memorial Park, a specific idea to solve one of our ten thousand ecological problems, or a personal experience. Make it sound intriguing, such as “The Secret Life of the Merganser” or “My Magical Moments in Hemer Park.”
- Limit your blog to around 750 words.
- Do your research, to include material that will be new and interesting to most people. Did you know that Midshipman Fish could sing, and that they breed in Ladysmith Harbour? Google your way to instant professorship.
- Find an unusual hook to get the reader started. “We were amazed to hear not one but four barred owls calling to each other when we took the children for a night walk at Blue Heron Park a week ago.”
- Understand that it is normal to write and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite four times before you get it right. All the best writers do it. Leo Tolstoy rewrote War and Peace (587,000 words) seven times, requiring his long-suffering wife Sofia to do the actual rewriting – by hand.
- Avoid socio-consequential prosaic formulations that use long words and complex ideo-formulaic constructions. You are not writing an academic PhD.
- Have fun. Be playful with your words and phrases. Let them dance and enjoy themselves – oh, you outrageous rollocking racoons!
- Tell a story. “I was in my bedroom when my father rushed in and shouted ‘Come down! You’ve got to see this!’. I was eight years old, always willing to be excited, but never had I expected to see our dog with our kitten sleeping on his head. It was the start of a life-long devotion to the study of animal behaviour.”
- Use links. You can embed one into the text by using control K to highlight a word or phrase and Control C then V to copy and paste the link in. Two, perhaps even five is fine, but not twenty. That’s a bit much.
- Print a copy and read it aloud. This will tell you whether it flows along like a pleasant piece of music or clunks along like a reluctant blog that needs a trip to the repair shop. You could also ask a friend to read it before you send it off. You never know – they may think it’s great!
- Don’t be shy to use spelchek. Don’t Use Capitals except for unique names. You wanted so desperately to visit a park you’d never been to before, so you settled on Eve’s Park.
- Choose an image to accompany your story. To be clear about copyright, use Google Image search, click ‘Tools’, then ‘Usage rights’, then ‘Labelled for reuse’. If you want to be creative, drag the image into a Powerpoint page and play around with it to make something creative. Then use Grab or a screen-capture app to turn your new image into a jpeg.
We look forward to receiving your first submission. Please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yes, even you, who is currently thinking “I could never write a blog!”