Okay Writers, Let’s Talk About Formatting
I Have Some Advice And if You’re A #Writer You Need This Info
Once upon a time, it didn’t matter what your writing looked like. People were so consumed with reading, that they’d read anything just to get their hands on words.
A large part of this is due to the Black Plague when they burned books thinking that the pages of the books carried the disease and made people sick. In reality, this was about control. Millions of books were burned never to be seen again, purely because the Church wanted to control the people.
Words are powerful weapons against the patriarchy, the church, and against secular organizations that want to hide the truth from their followers in an effort to control them.
That’s why so many religious organizations take little girls out of school at 12. It’s right about than girls start getting their periods and are ready to have sex and give birth. Physically, if certainly not mentally.
So let’s talk about how to format our work so that t gets read by the most people. And more importantly, so it gets read by the right people.
How Are You Using Your Words?
Almost all my pieces should be read out loud. Sometimes I swear a lot and this is hard for folks to read because they don’t swear like sailors. I do. I do because I get frustrated and angry and I want that to be conveyed through my writing.
I don’t always consider how the audience is going to react to what I say before I say it, I just say what’s on my mind, and in MY head at least, I always have good reasons for why I feel the way I do.
But how you use your words — and the perception of how you use your words are two different beasts.
My mom thinks I listen to rap music because I am looking for reminders of my old life, in reality, it’s a reminder of what I escaped that helps me fuel my journey and reminds me of what I’m fighting for. How you use your words is super important because the word “people” to you might literally be offensive to other folks. (this happened.)
Why Are You Using Those Words?
As I said above, I don’t always think about the words I use before I use them, sometimes I have to go back and check that I meant to say what I said because my brain gets confused. I don’t think the way that other folks do.
This comes from being beaten up as a kid, and again as an adult, and from serious brain damage due to trauma inflicted on me by other people.
I don’t speak a lot during the day because I’m alone working from home. So when I do speak, I choose the words I use carefully — not so I don’t offend the audience — but because words can be overwhelming for me.
When you understand why you’re using the chosen words that you’ve been using, you start to understand the deeper layers that affect your writing, and how they affect your writing, so you can be a better writer.
Where Are You Going With This?
We as writers want to make money writing. We want to live fabulous lives that are the envy of people everywhere, we want to be famous, and we want to have our voices heard.
All writers come from marginalized communities. There has never been a writer on the planet who hasn’t struggled and thought about giving up at some point. It’s natural because we’re emotional creatures, we pour our hearts and minds into our writing.
The Audience Doesn’t Give A Fuck
The audience doesn’t care about your tears or your struggles. They want to be:
They don’t care about you as a person, and I’ve learned this lesson many times over. It’s not that they don’t want to care, it’s just that you’re one more person whose talking about the world, but not necessarily engaging them, so when we combine everything above with this one statement, “the audience doesn’t give a fuck,” being a writer can feel often, pretty damned hopeless.
How Do You Make Them Care?
These are the missions of a writer. Whatever you’re writing about, you want to be the first to write about it right? No matter what you’re saying, you know it has value because you’ve studied what you’re talking about and you know others need to know.
So show them that it matters. Add a picture here or there, and make sure they aren’t too big because bigger pictures take longer to load and unless it’s your main picture, it doesn’t need to be that big.
Add quotes, make it interesting, and add your heart and soul into the piece to show people why it matters to YOU as a person, and if they care about you, even if they don’t, you can make them care about the topic at hand.
Finally I Want to Talk about Design
I don’t care what your highlight colors are, but if the color of your page is anything other than white I won’t read it. There are very few readers I will suffer through staring at a blue or green screen for. It’s annoying, stop doing it.
It’s also not professional looking, my first thought, and the thought of many readers is always going to be, “oh great, you’re creative but you’re vomiting.” Which means you’re throwing color at the wall without understanding a few things:
- Mixed colors are hard on the eyes. And if it’s hard on the eyes many people won’t suffer through your work no matter how good it is.
- It takes longer to load.
- It’s fucking ugly stop doing it.
- White page, colored highlighter color. This is what most people have spent their lives getting used to, and it’s easy to read.
I say this because I want you to succeed, not because I’m mean. Stop making me work so hard to read your work, and I’ll read more of it.
Every day millions of readers flock to this website to read your work, don’t lose out on a potential reader because you’ve made your work more difficult to read than necessary.
I hope this helps.
Sending all my love
Devon J Hall, The Loud Mouth Brown Girl