How to Write a Great Book Blog Post

How to Write a Great Blog Post

1.  Make a list of questions people might ask about whatever it is you’re writing about.

Let’s pretend that I’m writing about the book I just read.  We’ll use The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda as an example.  So, I’m going to brainstorm a list of questions that someone who hasn’t read the book might ask me.

We’ll start with a few questions that are specific to Origami Yoda (but you could write similar questions about your book):

  • Was the Origami Yoda real and did he truly have powers?
  • Does Origami Yoda have anything to do with Star Wars?
  • Should Origami Yoda with the Caudill Award?
  • What in the world is an Origami Yoda?

Now here’s some questions you could ask about any book, article, poem, story, movie, or TV show:

  • What made _______________a good book?
  • What did you like about this book?
  • What made this book different from others you’ve read recently?
  • How does the setting of ________________ impact the story?
  • What made this time period important to the story?
  • What’s more important in the story, the internal conflict or the external conflict?
  • What made the antagonist in ________________ memorable?
  • How did some of the minor characters impact the outcome of the story?
  • How does the protagonist of ________________ grow and change throughout the story?
  • How did the author’s use of figurative language (personification, metaphor, onomatopoeia, alliteration, and simile) affect the story?
  • What made ________________  a well-rounded, interesting character?
  • What makes you root for the protagonist in this story?
  • What is the theme of the story?
  • How did the point of view impact the way the story was told?
  • How did the author establish tone in the story?
  • How did the author create mood in the story?
  • How does this story fit into a particular genre of writing?
  • Why did you rate this particular book _____ out of 5 stars?

Alright, that’s a pretty good list for now.  Of course, as we’re working and thinking, a better question may pop into our heads later, but that’s just fine.

Now, we choose the question we like best.  Remember, we’re not choosing the one that’s easiest to answer (that means any yes/no questions aren’t the best way to go) – instead, we’re choosing the most interesting question.

(Now, keep in mind that sometimes, like Discovery and ISAT tests, the test people have already come up with the question for you, so you skip ahead to step 2).

From that list, I like the sixth question, “What did you like about this book?”  I think that one gives me the most to talk about, and I can incorporated some of the ideas about what makes it different, what an Origami Yoda is, and how it ties in with the Star Wars movies.

Now I start my blog post by turning the question into a phrase.  That becomes the main idea of my post.

There are a gazillion things I liked about Tom Angleberger’s book The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda.

2.  Now brainstorm answers to the question you’ve asked. 

For our example, I have to ask myself “What did I like about this book?”

Now I’ll make a list of things I liked about it.  There are no bad ideas at this point.  Not everything we put on this page will be used later on, but we also don’t want to only talk about the first few things that pop into our heads.

I liked:

  • The way the story was told as a series of written “case files” like Tommy, the main character was trying to build a court case for Origami Yoda.
  • That each chapter was from a different character’s perspective – sometimes even telling the same part of the story from a different point of view.
  • That the illustrations were part of the case file, drawn by a character from the story.
  • That the antagonist (Harvey) got to give his “two cents” after each chapter.
  • That Tommy, the protagonist, got to give his rebuttal to everything Harvey said.
  • That the characters talked like real kids.
  • That the main conflict in the story is incredibly silly – that there’s a weird kid who may or may not have paper Origami Yoda that can predict the future.
  • That the story tied in a lot of characters and ideas from the Star Wars movies.

Keep going.  Make your list as long as you can.  When you’re talking about a book (or a movie or TV show), think about all of the elements of your book summaries.  Protagonist, antagonist, other characters, time, place, conflict, mood/tone, theme, the hero’s journey, and the point of view.  Don’t forget to also consider the author (actors, writers, directors…) and how their lives connect to the story.

3.  Pick 3-4 of the best aspects of the book to use in your writing.  Make sure they help you answer the original question. 

Now add to that main idea statement you made earlier.

There are a gazillion things I liked about Tom Angleberger’s book The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda. One of the best things about it is that the characters use tons of references from the old Star Wars movies.  This makes them seem like real kids, discussing a real important issue, but their issue isn’t real – in fact, their issue is pretty ridiculous – they believe that the “weird kid” in class may have found a way to make a paper Yoda that really can use The Force.

 

4. This is the part where we get into specific details.  We use excerpts and specific examples from what we’ve read to answer the question.

You’ve got a few choices here…

Until you get the hang of creating great sentences, for now simply start your sentences with…

Although…

Despite…

Unless…

If…

I agree/I disagree with…

I have a different opinion…

I have something to add…

Throughout…

I believe that…

I think…

I feel…

If I was (character or author’s name)…

If I had been in this situation…

I agree/disagree with (character/author)’s decision…

In my opinon…

The author used (writing device) to…

This piece lets readers see how…

The author created a piece that really expressed how people…

The lessons/themes in this piece can show others…

 

My paragraph would go like this:

One of the best things about The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda  is how the author used multiple points of view to tell the story.  The main character, Tommy, begins the story, explaining that each section of the story is going to be told by a different character, giving their take on whether or not Origami Yoda is real.  I agree with Tom Angleberger’s decision to include so many different viewpoints, especially the parts of the story written by Harvey, because he doesn’t buy into Origami Yoda – making him a different voice than the rest of the kids.  This piece lets readers see how the same story told through different eyes can be an entirely different story.  Although the author has a great writing style, it’s the illustrations by Kellen (really they’re by Angleberger, but it’s one of the characters who’s supposed to be drawing them) that make the whole book unique.

 

 5.  The next section of your writing is where you make connections. 

“Text to World” and “Text to Text” connections are great ways to help your reader put your book into context.  “Text to World” connections take what you’ve read and show how it reminds you of something going on in the world around you.  “Text to Text” connections are when you show how the story reminds you of another story, book, TV show, or movie.

“Text to Self” connections are really, really powerful too, but it’s so easy to make a superficial connection that really doesn’t mean anything.  Remember, a few years ago I had a student say that they had a meaningful connection because the main character in their book had skin.  That’s kind of ridiculous, but saying that your character has a dog, a sibling, a problem with math… those are all pretty superficial.  A good “Text to Self” connection comes from having specific things in common with the character, like having dealt with a very similar conflict (either internal or external).  For example, you may connect with Brian in Hatchet if you’ve been camping and got separated from the group for an extended period of time.  You can really understand (on a much smaller scale) how Brian feels, because just like him, you were lost in the woods.   Unless you have a really, really, really, really strong “Text to Self” connection, don’t use them.

I’m going to make a “Text to World” connection first:

What’s really cool about Origami Yoda showing you different viewpoints is that you really get to see that there truly are two (or more) sides to every story.  It actually reminds me quite a bit of the Presidential Election that’s going on right now.  In the book, Tommy sees all these things that Dwight and Origami Yoda are doing, and he writes about how amazing they are and what power they have.  Harvey sees all the same stuff, but he’s not buying it.  He thinks that Dwight is playing games with everyone and he can’t believe they’re falling for it.  It’s very similar in the Presidential campaigns.  Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney talk about the same issues.  They both agree that certain things need to be taken care of, but they have different ideas on how to fix those things.  I always wondered how two people can have such different ideas on how to solve the same problem, but Tommy and Harvey looking at their silly Yoda conflict in different ways helped me see that real people in much more serious situations could see things differently too.

 

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