Writing tips from a chef

A few nuggets from Georgeanne Brennan's Writers Workshop yesterday at the Vacaville Public Library-Cultural Center of the Solano County Library.

  1. "With writing, if it isn't on paper it doesn't count." 
  2. "Create sensations by choosing verbs, not adjectives and adverbs.
  3. "Try jumping into a scene by describing the sensations. Then go back and introduce or give it context."
  4. "Create tension in your writing but creating a time frame."
A before-and-after example from her epilogue to A Pig in Provence, in which Georgeanne describes a cozy meal by herself in her house in Provence:

Before: "I'd forgotten a hot pad, so I put that on the table first, then set down my chard gratin, baked in the small, dark red rectangular baking dish.

After: "I'd forgotten a hot pad, so I put that on the table first, then set down my chard gratin, baked in the small, dark red rectangular baking dish that my mother-in-law bought for me when she and her husband came to visit, flying from San Francisco to Nice. It was the last trip they made together and the only thing she acquired on the journey."

Hmmm. I want to know more.   


Ads with value

 First thing that comes to my mind is the Simpsons Movie  make-your-own-avatar widget.   OK, maybe the avatar was not exactly valuable but it certainly was fun.  

"People have to think about advertising differently," said Trevor Kaufman, CEO of Schematic, the interactive agency recently purchased by WPP Group. "Advertising is becoming not just about messaging but providing value to customers. Functionality has often not been the role of advertising."

Functionality, utility -- whatever you want to call it -- brings a different level of engagement from consumers. Because people click on these things freely and voluntarily, because it helps them to get something done, they come to them with a different mindset than they do marketing communications that interrupts, whether a TV commercial or a pop-up ad online. Put simply, they want to be there. There's one other thing about them: Unlike that TV spot, the cost of distribution is very small if not free."

From Think Different: Maybe the Web's Not a Place to Stick Your Ads by Matthew Creamer, Advertising Age, March 17, 2008 (Requires registration)


Throwing IEDs in the Blogosphere

When what we now call Web 2.0 first emerged I was all for making it as easy as possible for users to contribute their comments, ideas, and creativity. But when I read the comments that are the ubiquitous adjunct to newspaper articles, YouTube videos, movie reviews and all things blogified, I find a disturbing trend. Mixed with the chatter that characterizes much of Web 2.Yawn is a minority that specializes in corrosive rants.

Being naturally paranoid and not quite over the original sin of my Catholic upbringing, I assumed that this online graffiti was the dark side of human nature. That on a bad day, it could be any of us sounding off that John McCain is an albino dwarf and Hillary Clinton is a lying beast.

But at a recent Word-of-Mouth Marketing Workshop I was doing for the San Luis Obispo Library (slo) I heard this wise observation:

Rather than presenting the dark side that is part of every one of us, the online world of commenting is attracting a subset of us that is very dark.

The anonymity of "comments" is a place for troubled people to throw their written IEDs without detection. There's plenty of ugly stuff printed in letters to the editor but at least those bomb throwers have names.

I imagine these misfits sitting in their grim little rooms late at night, alone with their phone sex commercials and laptops, posting venom on one blog after another. Before they had comments, what did they do for kicks? Dress up in sheets and burn crosses with their buddies? Seriously, it would be interesting to know if online membership of hate groups like the KKK has decreased now that there are so many new ways to hate.

I still appreciate the openess and access of Web 2.Yawn. But I try not to read the comments.


Must Love Wine - new social network for winos

It was just a matter of time, a social network for wine. Looks like facebook but the friends aren't  as cute- at least after the opening


McCain Girls - I still like McCain even if his viral video sucks

I didn't say I would vote for him.