where the writers are
Fiction Blogs vs. Opinion Blogs

Bloggers are surprisingly conservative, for a group that consider themselves to be on the cutting edge of internet technology.

Blogs started life as opinion pieces, the entry of sites like Blogger and Wordpress made it simple for anyone with an internet connection to dump the caffeine addled contents of their brains onto the web, soon the internet was overun with self appointed political commentators, sports experts, seers, sages and prophets of every possible hue. New Age, Old Age, no corner was left uncommented. 

The vast majority of this verbiage was untroubled by readers, a minor flaw in the grand scheme of the self appointed experts, and despite dire predictions emanating from the traditional media, quality of information and quality of writing gradually rose to the top of the pile. 

Now I run a technical blog, published on a corporate intranet that attracts ten times as many readers and many more comments than my fiction blog (Grapes Of Wrath) - there are some obvious reasons for this (notwithstanding the possibility that my fiction may be unreadable!) - technology touches everyone, I work for a technology company and my name is better known amongst those few hundred thousand readers than it is amongst the many millions of readers in the wider community.

'Serious' fiction blogs have an obvious problem - in a medium where the attention span is measured in nanoseconds, why would anybody read it - unless they knew that they would get some value from it - either by recommendation or previous experience. In this way, the dilemma faced by fiction writers is very similar to that faced by unknown musicians - why would anybody bother? The promotional stuff needs to be done. (see previous post)

The Grapes Of Wrath has provoked some interesting comment though. To set the scene, the blog is the journal of a fictional character. The events are fictional  - I get a lot of mail to my personal inbox, commenting about the stories, the character, the quality (or otherwise) of the writing, I asked one correspondent why she didn't leave a comment on the blog - the reply was that she felt that a real comment would spoil the fictional integrity - break the spell. I toyed with the idea of creating fictional comments, extending the reach of the fictional world so to speak, but decided against it - the idea of the blog is to showpiece the character and the writing, not to create a stand alone piece of art (though the thought does appeal, I have only the 24 hours in my day).

Up until that conversation, I had a link to the 'author' that led to a Facebook 'fan page' - a bit of fun really, I filled it with depictions of the author and some of the characters and invented a couple of 'fans' who posted pictures of themselves onto the site. I let all my facebook friends know about the fan page - a couple of dozen signed up - to my great surprise - but then something unexpected happened - complete strangers began to sign up too, not many admittedly, but they continue to trickle through from the blog - so some tiny percent of the readers I drag in from my promotional activities 'get it'. 

So about the conservatives...I have had a few conversations with people that just don't 'get it'. My argument is that the browser is a medium, like cinema and books. Nobody complains if a film 'isn't true' or even if a book contains blank pages (Tristram Shandy). TV even follows a news program with a sitcom. This is because the rules of engagement are understood. It was not always so - but I wonder how long it will take for people to open up to the possibility that a blog is not necessarily an opinion piece. Don't get me started on wikis!

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