a guest post from Larry Brooks of Storyfix.com
With apologies to the character named Pinhead from the Hellraiser movies, who uttered that line as he was about to slowly fillet a helpless victim just for grins…
… maybe you’re taking yourself too seriously. I know I was.
My blog is an oh-so-serious venue for fiction writers, offering tips and techniques and instruction from all perspectives on the craft. Intense stuff for people with aspirations to publish their work.
And it seems to be working fine. My subscribers and, to a lesser extent, my traffic have grown continuously after one year online, and to the point where the site has actually landed me a book deal.
But that’s not my point today.
My point today is the realization that my most clicked-on, pingbacked and commented-upon posts were those that were, in effect, a break in the action.
Posts that, in the midst of all that literary pretention, were just for laughs.
Everybody enjoys a good grin.
Even writers and bloggers who, like me, take themselves oh-so-seriously.
To add a little scale to this declaration, here are some numbers. Five times I’ve posted articles that had nothing at all to do with the primary focus of my site, other than a thin relevance to words themselves. And all five times, my traffic tripled.
And as a result, my subscription based nudged upward, even as I went back to the drudgery of mentoring people on how to write novels and screenplays.
And interestingly enough, while trending upward as a result of this, traffic went back to where it was the very next day. It was like a restaurant having “Free Drinks” day.
Which told me I needed to do this more often.
The first time was a timeout from pontificating on dramatic narrative to tell some funny stories (mostly on me) from book signings gone wrong. Of which there are plenty. I was three months into blogging at the time, and my reader Comments (which were admittedly thin) tripled overnight. People loved laughing at me, it seemed.
A while later I posted a puzzle – literally – and, under the guise of another writing post, challenged readers to do the seemingly impossible. Puzzles are fun, so once again, traffic on that day increased threefold.
Then I just went straight at it – I offered up a joke that writers would find funny even if nobody else would. Best response to any post I’d had to date.
And then, just to test this comedic water, I tried yet another joke with even better response this time, possibly because it was a better joke.
There were a couple months and forty or so posts separating these little smile breaks.
Which means I wasn’t remotely watering down my brand. Rather, I was fertilizing reader relationships (take that particular analogy any way you wish…)
I’m motivated to share this with you today because I’ve just finished yet another Time to Play type of diversion that garnered me a positively Probloggeresque number of responses. I threw a little contest out there, using a clever wordplay concept, and the result exceeded my expectations.
Wordplay games for writers is like beer pong for college students.
Over 70 people joined in, with over 300 “entries” to the contest. Every one of them is a punchline, by the way, so if you’re looking for a few grins, click here to check them out.
So for now it’s back to hooks, sub-plots, character arc and how to land agent. But my readers know a few laughs are in the near future, and like friends sharing a project, we all look forward to a little break now and then.
Especially when it’s as strategically-sound as it is appreciated.
Larry Brooks is the creator of Storyfix.com, a site for writers seeking to publish their work. He is the author of five novels, including his latest, Whisper of the Seventh Thunder, which isn’t remotely funny. More like something Pinhead would appreciate.