Documenting with Photos

Online Writing InsiderTaking photos for use in your own online articles is ridiculously easy, and seeing as they add so much value to your work, there is no excuse not to use them!

In this episode of the Online Writing Insider (Documenting with Photos), Jason Menayan and Her Brilliance (moi) share tips on documenting projects and other events (plus taking stock photos) for use in online articles.

Is there any sort of advice you’d like us to give in future Online Writing Insider podcasts?  Send your suggestions to us in an email!

On Writing Well: The Importance of Structure in Writing

Pia Chatterjee

I am an incorrigible planner. I plan everything, down to the last detail. Yet when I am writing, I forget my planning ways, and try to write spontaneously. “I’ll be creative today!” I tell myself. “Structure is for construction, not for writing.” Yet inevitably, I run out of steam and give up on my piece. But when I structure my work in advance, such a thing never happens, and both my fiction and non-fiction articles read better, are more interesting, and most importantly, I don’t put it off until another time.

Some popular ways of structuring your writing:

Inverted Pyramid approach: Most commonly used in journalism, this approach quickly gets to the most important information first, describing who, what, when, where and why in the first paragraph. The later paragraphs include less important information, with the background and general information appearing last. The reader is immediately involved, but does not have to read up until the end, if they are short on time. It’s also very easy to edit.

The AIDA approach: This technique is popular with copywriters and is wonderful when you are describing something that requires an action in the end. Within this structure, you first grab the readers ATTENTION, create an INTEREST, inspire DESIRE, and then call for an ACTION. This is wonderful when you want your readers to actually do something at the end of the piece, whether it is to buy a product, get more exercise, or try a recipe, this form really works

The Dramatic approach: Shakespeare did it and so can you! Try structuring your writing into 3 acts, with the first act offering the set-up, the second act creating the conflict, and the third act involving the resolution. Every good novel or short story is structured in this way. It’s pleasant to read, involving an arc of action, and leaves the reader very satisfied

The Essay approach: Most popular in academic writing, this form offers an introduction, moves to the thesis which describes an assumption (for example: the earth is round) goes on to discuss proof points and arguments for an against this assumption, and then goes on to create a conclusion, based on the value of the proof. This is a very logical process and is wonderful when you are arguing your case.

So now, I’ve run out of excuses! Whether I want to write fiction, persuade readers to action, argue my case, or write a news item, I have some actionable structures on hand! So, now I actually have to write J But that’s another blog post!

The Citizen’s Financial Responsibility Act

Fascinating FictionI particularly enjoyed reading this week’s Fascinating Fiction story, The Citizen’s Financial Responsibility Act.  First published as The Citizen’s Financial Responsibility Act by Theo20185 on HubPages, this story has a bit of a Matrix feel to it, plus offers interesting commentary on debt and coporate greed.

I hope you enjoy listening to it!

If there is a fictional short story on HubPages that you think would be great for this podcast, let us know!  We’d also love to hear from you if you are interested in recording your voice reading the Hubs of other fiction authors that have been submitted for the podcast.  So far, Website Examiner and Aficionada have been kind enough to step forward, and they’ve done a fabulous job!

 

Introducing the Hub of the Day Feature

This Monday, we will be introducing a feature that I am particularly excited about: the Hub of the Day.  One Hub of the Day will be chosen by HubPages staff every day based on its interesting subject matter, good writing, and beautiful formatting.  The Hub of the Day will be showcased before the HubPages community and casual site visitors alike, and its author will receive a special Accolade (designed, of course, by James Edmondson, who also created the excellent logo for the Share and Share a Like contest).

Fawntia Fowler (of new signed-in homepageMap Capsule, and improved photo capsule fame) built this fantastic feature, and shares its basic details below:

Where does the Hub of the Day show up?

The Hub of the Day appears in two places: for signed out users, it appears in the large-format carousel at the top of the homepage. For signed in users, it appears in the sidebar of your homepage next to your feed. That means that everyone – signed in or not – will see today’s Hub of the Day on their homepage.

How long will the Hub of the Day continue to appear on the signed-out homepage?

We will display the ten most recent Hubs of the Day on the signed-out home page. So if your Hub is chosen as Hub of the Day, it will be on the signed-out homepage for ten days.

Is there an archive where people will be able to see all of the previous Hub of the Day Hubs?

Yes! Here is the archive (but it is empty now, of course).

The Hub of the Day Accolade is rather unique in that it shows up in more places than just a Hubber’s profile.  Could you tell us more about that?

The Hub of the Day Accolade will also appear on the winning Hub next to the title as a permanent testament to the quality of the Hub.

An example of what the Hub of the Day Accolade looks like when displayed on a Hub

Is there anything else about the feature that you’d like to add?

I had fun building this feature and I hope that the community has fun with it, too!

.    .    .

Big thanks to Fawntia for creating this feature, and to James for designing the super cool Accolade.  We hope that you find the Hubs of the Day both inspiring and interesting.

Y Chromosomes – Bundles of Genetic Fun

Weekly Advice from Everyday ExpertsThe Y chromosome is a fascinating thing, as anyone who has read leahlefler’s Hub The Y Chromosome: Ancestry, Genetics, and the Making of a Man could tell you.

In this episode of Weekly Advice from Everyday Experts (Y Chromosomes – Bundles of Genetic Fun), Jason Menayan and Simone Smith discuss leahlefler’s fascinating exploration of the Y chromosome.  There is much more to this scrawny packet of genetic information than one might expect!

Do you have a comment on the podcast, or have a Hub in mind that would be great for a future discussion? Send us a message!

Introducing the Share and Share A Like Contest

Share and Share a Like

Guess what? We’ve got a contest next month!

The HubPages Share and Share a Like contest is HubPages’ first ever social contest in which we encourage you to write online articles that your social media friends are likely to read, enjoy, and share. In this contest, we’ve opened up most of the voting to the community and moved it to our Facebook page, making you just as much a judge as you are a participant! You can write about whatever you like- just make sure to add the “Contest” tag before publishing for your entry to count.

In addition to having the chance to win $50 each day with our classic Daily Drawing prize, entries may be selected to be showcased on our Facebook page for the Fan Faves round (from Tuesday to Friday following each contest week), in which any visitor may vote for their favorite Hub. Any of these Hubs that gets more than 25 votes wins an instant $25.

The entries chosen for each week’s Fan Faves challenge will be selected based on the following criteria:

  • Whether the content is something friends and followers would be interested in reading (is exciting, strange, very useful, very funny, or has some other potential for going viral)
  • Long-tail, niche topic that has not been extensively covered online
  • Search-friendly title (mirrors common search terms)
  • Excellent writing (proper use of grammar, capitalization)
  • Unique (not copied or paraphrased from elsewhere online, full of details, examples, names, and figures)
  • Attractive formatting (avoidance of excessive link, eBay, or Amazon capsule clutter, excessive bolding or italics, and all-caps)
  • Judicious use of relevant capsules (original photos (especially your own), video, maps, tables, links, news, etc.)

The two Hubs with the most Fan Fave votes will move on to a Tug of War round (from Friday to Monday) of final voting, with the winner coming away with $100 and the runner up winning $50. The Tug of War winners from each week will enter a final round of voting on August 9th and the Hub with the most votes wins our Grand Prize of $500.

We will be sharing the detailed Share and Share a Like rules and timing on an official contest page soon, but submitting entries is going to be very easy.  All you’ll have to do is add a simple tag. Voting will also be very easy.  All you’ll have to do is visit our Facebook page and go to the Fan Faves and Tug of War tabs (which will only show up during the contest).  If you want to start writing entries (to save as drafts- anything published before the contest will not count), keep in mind that all entires must be a minimum of 500 words (that are entirely original to HubPages) and must contain at least one high quality (and legally used) photo.

We’re really excited to read everyone’s entries and see which ones gain the most popularity amongst the community.  May the best Hubbers win!

How to Spark Interest

Online Writing InsiderWhat is it that sparks the interest of a reader or journalist?  What makes an online article go viral?

Find out in this episode of the Online Writing Insider (How to Spark Interest) in which PR expert Pia Chatterjee and internet meme fan Simone Smith discuss just various means by which online writers can attract reader and media attention.

With a mixture of expertise, unexpectedness, foresight, and pattern recognition, you can be on your way to composing viral-ready articles in no time!

On Writing Well: How to Write a Great First Sentence

As a writer, I’m sure that you want each of your sentences to be equally perfect. To choose one as a favorite would be like a mom preferring one child over another. A terrible thought, indeed!

Yet, today, I am going to persuade you, for the sake of your prose alone, to attend to one sentence more than the others. This is the first sentence. See, the first sentence has a great deal of responsibility and deserves extra care. In a fictional piece, the first sentence has to invite you in, persuade you to linger a while, read up into the second sentence, perhaps even further. In a non-fiction piece, the first sentence details the information that you are about to share and the importance of that information, so that the reader is instantly intrigued.

As Hubber J.S Matthew says, the first sentence of a Hub is “just as important as the title itself.” Hubber ThePracticalMommy goes a bit further, “Without a strong Line (first sentence), you’ll never catch the reader.” And Hubber Mary Stormshade is more poetic when she declares that the first line “must be tantalizing, creative and in a manner seductive to the reader.” They are all correct, of course. The first sentence bears an awfully tough burden and deserves much attention from you, my dear Hubber.

But before we go onto describe how you can make your first line as strong as Samson, here are ways that you weaken your first line without even realizing it. So here’s a list of things of things not to do when crafting your first sentence for a Hub.

When writing the first line, do not:

  • Start with a quote from a famous person – forget what your English teacher told you, this does not draw enough attention
  • Start with a description of the weather. Unless you are Tolstoy, chances are that your descriptions will be less than enchanting. Writers have been describing the weather in English for about seven centuries now, starting with Chaucer and there’s little left to say that’s original.
  • Start with something that is entirely disconnected from the rest of your Hub.

Instead:

  1. Jump right into the action – if you are going to be sharing a tale of adventure, start at the critical moment. If you are going to share a recipe, tell us right away what makes it unique. If you are writing about science, get right to the point
  2. Start with an active sentence – active sentences get a lot more attention than passive ones. They work harder too.
  3. Consider starting with an anecdote from life. The Wall Street Journal does it, and you can too.

 

Some of my favorite first lines of Hubs are:

** I suffered through a lot of mediocre fish and chips at restaurants before learning how easy it was to make great, crispy-crunchy beer battered fish at home. From “How to Make Great Beer Battered Fish” By John D. Lee

** Nobody likes shopping for jeans — it’s up there with bathing suit shopping as frustrating, discouraging shopping experiences go. From “Best Jeans Brands for Short Women” by S.Carver

** People spend far too much time trying to figure out how to make people happy and comfortable. From “How to Make People Uncomfortable” by Simone Smith

When Evil Comes

Fascinating FictionWhile the HubPages Fascinating Fiction podcast is still in its infancy, we have already two stories with the word “evil” in the title!  There must be something particularly alluring about the dark side.

With When Evil Comes, akirchner (who typically writes nonfiction Hubs) took a walk on the wild side and explored the world of fiction in a Halloween-inspired piece.

Narrating this week’s story is Aficionada, who also did the narration for Will Starr’s Western Short Story- Hired On.  Her voices are absolutely top drawer.

Be sure to have a look at akircher’s original story: Fear Fiction: When Evil Comes– and check out her amazing and award winning fiction Hubs as well!

Have a short story Hub you’d like to recommend for the podcast? Send us an email – we’d love to know about it!

New Email Notification Features

Next week, we will be rolling out some pretty nifty new notification features, making it easier (and more pleasant) for you to keep up on HubPages activity than ever. The new features will include:

  • A digest of all notifications: summarizing all the HubPages goings on you have been following in one convenient place
  • A new place on your Account where you can configure notifications: allowing you to set everything form one convenient location
  • Three choices as to how you receive notifications that can be edited from this panel: never, auto, and always

The “Never’ option ensures that you’ll never get an instant email, mobile notification, or digest email on Hubs, questions, and forum topics get new comments, answers, or posts.  The “Always” option ensures that you’ll (big surprise) always get such updates.

The “Auto” setting, which is the coolest, utilizes a nifty formula to send you updates only on new developments that are likely to interest you.  Details factored into such updates include the quality of the notification, your affinity for the particular Hubber involved (e.g. whether or not you’re following them, have visited their profile recently, etc.), this person’s HubScore, thumbs up or down on an answer, and whether or not you are following and frequently check in on the particular topic in question.  Your affinity for certain topics is even separated out by Hubs, questions, and forums, as not all Hubbers who enjoy hanging out in the religious forums, for example, read many religious Hubs.

Ari Lamstein is the man to thank for this nifty upcoming feature – but one should expect nothing less from a fan of guitar sonatas.  Props to him for implementing such a sophisticated notification system!  I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.