10 Best Writing Tips From Neil Gaiman

When listing the names of the best authors in the fantasy genre, every avid reader will inevitably say Neil Gaiman’s name. The 56-year-old Hampshire-born writer has penned a plethora of comic books, graphic novels, and films. He’s even dabbled in songwriting, theatre and TV shows. Regarded as one of the top ten post-modern writers, Gaiman’s bibliophile nature and journalistic background have helped him become the revered novelist he is today.

Gaiman’s most notable works include The Sandman comic series, American Gods, Stardust, Coraline, The Graveyard Book and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. He’s also social media savvy and isn’t afraid to share his knowledge and experience with the world. In fact, he has often peppered his blog with writing tips for budding authors. Although there’s a lot he has said about writing, publishing and being a writer, we’ve compiled a list of the most important ones. Here are Neil Gaiman’s pearls of wisdom:

  • Ideas aren’t that important. Everyone has an idea for a book, a movie or a TV show. Creating believable characters who more or less do what you want them to do is the hard part. So spend time on your characters once you’ve outlined your idea.
  • Put down your mobile phone and switch off your TV. Some of the best ideas can come from daydreaming, getting bored and making things up. Your mind will amuse itself once it’s sufficiently bored and come up with interesting scenarios. Everybody daydreams. The difference between an average person and a writer is that a writer notices when he or she is doing it.
  • If you’re having a problem coming up with a good idea, create a situation around these questions: What if, if only, I wonder, if this goes on and wouldn’t it be interesting if. This is perhaps one of the most useful writing tips from Neil Gaiman.
  • It’s crucial to put one word after another till you’ve finished your novel or short story. Writing shouldn’t be done only during a fit of inspiration. It has to be done every day once the idea has been formed. Finish it.
  • Neil Gaiman suggests sending your manuscript to all publishers in your genre. Even if your manuscript lands in the slush pile of rejected work. Keep doing it till you find someone willing to publish it. Patience is key.
  • Meet editors, attend conventions, join a writers group that encourages you to write, join associations and use the Internet to network, get reviews on your work and feedback from potential readers. The more people you meet, the more chances there are of someone publishing your work.
  • Edit your work as much as possible but don’t chase perfection. One of Gaiman’s important writing tips is to put away your short story or novel in a drawer for some time after writing it. Then, write something else. Whenever you feel ready, read your short story or novel as a reader. If you aren’t satisfied with it, fix it as a writer. Gaiman calls this revision.
  • Experiment with your writing. Pen something weird, eccentric or disturbing. Don’t worry about it being good or bad.
  • Read, read and then read some more. Moreover, Gaiman advices aspiring writers to read outside their comfort zone. For example, if you are a romance writer, read a crime novel. If you write fantasy, read philosophy.
  • Live life to the fullest. Real life experiences often serve as inspiration for characters and stories.

Hopefully, these handy tips have inspired you to become (who knows?) the next Neil Gaiman. Now go forth and prosper!

The Anatomy Of A Great Blog Post

A few days ago, we had a post about what the elements are in a great web page. Today, let’s tackle what elements constitute the perfect or near-perfect blog post.

So how can we create a great post? This is scary stuff because there’s so much pressure in blogging about and giving writers’ tips on perfect blogging.

Here are elements that make up a really great blog post:

1. The perfect headline

You need to learn how to write headlines that turn readers’ heads and want to take in all of your content. According to a Copyblogger stat, 8 out of 10 people will read headline but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest of the content. Your headlines (at least) must:

  • Be specific – This means it should include genuine information so readers get an idea of what they’re about to read.
  • Be useful – Your headline goes straight to the problem.
  • Create a sense of need – The reader wants his questions answered, your headline tells him they will be answered, just read on.

2. The perfect body

The body consists of these:

  • Introduction – It starts off with a bang of an introduction and that makes readers keep reading. One of the best writers’ tips for an introduction is telling a personal story or an anecdote of an influencer. This will make your introduction seem genuine.
  • Paragraphs – These give structure to your blog post and make it readable. Each paragraph should have a subheading (H2 or H3).
  • Written content – Take time to craft a post that is really of high quality and is well-researched. You can use Buzzsumo to give you the best resources and influencers, stats of articles or just plain topics for your posts.
  • Relevant visuals – They provide great value to your content. Blog Pros concluded that the best posts have an average of 3.2 images. Just credit your images and other multi-media content with the proper links.

2. The perfect length

According to SerpIQ, posts with more than 2,000 words perform the best. So the more word counts equates to better search traffic.

3. The perfect conclusion and call to action

Wrap it up nicely. Like a great gift, your blog post must have something of great value for your readers. Your conclusion will make them realize how valuable your post was and useful in the future, just like the perfect gift. To complete your post, inspire them to a subtle call-to-action. Then maybe give them a little bonus.

4. A few additions

  • You should optimize your post both for desktop and mobile platforms.
  • Promote your blog post through social shares. It has the potential to make your post reach more people. Have a “Click to Tweet” button or a Facebook share button ready for the lazy ones.

Use these writers’ tips

Remember, it is you who measure perfection. The perfect formula may not be the same for all but there is compelling content in all. Use these writers’ tips for creating one heck of a blog post. Then sit back, relax and wait for the results to come trickling in.

The Writer’s Ultimate Headline Playbook For Creating Great Content

The real writer has always had this one true goal: to write to amuse, entertain and inform the visiting readers, not for search engine rankings or being #1 in page 1 of SERPs. The true passion is in the writing. It always has been. But alas, in this digital world of marketing, how do writers write both for the visitors and the search engines?

They could start by coming up with topics that have been tried and tested with headlines that have been proven to be effective through the years. All we need to do is copy them, rehash them and present them as new. Of course, we won’t violate any plagiarism and copyright laws. We simply keep the basic concepts.

Choose from these classic entries from our writers’ tips and headline playbook:

  1. The ever popular “How To”

The motherlode of headlines, this is one surefire headline that will help people do something. Everybody needs an expert to show us how we can apply it in a practical way. That’s the promise of these headlines. It’s irresistible and we are all suckers.

Examples:

How to Have a Healthier and More Productive Home Office

How to Talk to Your Angriest Customers

  1. The ever reliable “Lists”

Also known as “listicles” these aren’t going away soon. They’re easily digestible and indispensable. There isn’t one single topic in the world that can’t be put in a list. Readers will always be wondering whether what they’re looking for is something within your list. It never fails.

Examples:

14 Ways to Increase Your Clickthrough Rate on Twitter

The Top 10 Jobs That Attract Psychopaths

15 Things Millennials Say That No One Else Understands

  1. Warning/Caution/Advisory: Something

People generally fear something. These signs are certain NOT to be ignored. The words warning, caution and advisory are so powerful, people will read whatever comes after it. Just make sure the “Something” will spark curiosity and be relatable.

Examples:

Warning: Your Blog is Under Attack by Splogs

CAUTION: You’re Not Sweating Your Headlines Enough

  1. The questions have it

This entry uses “Why” or “How” not to ask questions but to put an opinion out and give an explanation. If readers agree with you, they’re hooked. If they disagree, what’s your opinion of it? The more controversial the opinion, the more readers want to see which side you’re on.

Examples:

Why People Share: The Psychology of Social Sharing

How Do I Monetize My Blog (Or Podcast)?

  1. The Ultimate Guide to Something

It’s the ultimate, so readers must know about it because it promises to tell you everything that you want to know. Remember, it’s a GUIDE.

Examples:

The Ultimate Guide to Making More Money in Tech

The Ultimate On-Site SEO Guide for Your Online Store

Use these writers’ tips

One of the best writers’ tips is to be patient. You cannot rush headline and content writing, even if you wanted to and even if it’s writing for search engines. Just focus on what people want and then deliver. The next thing you know, the search engines will be guiding your readers to your next few viral posts.