If you are an aspiring blogger (or an expiring one, all jaded-like and needing some help rekindling an old passion), this post is for you.
We are five ardent fans of Korean dramas, having watched them for a decade or thereabouts. We may not look it, but mark our words, we know this stuff. So, even though we aren’t bloggers per se and have no experience blogging (except one time and even then on the fly), we would like to offer some choice morsels of advice on the subject.
Let’s start with the basics. A name is the first thing you need because that’s going to be your identity; it shapes how others see you and your blog. For instance, you don’t want “prattle” in your name because have you ever seen that highfalutin word used in a positive way? You might as well substitute it with “babble”; the meaning is the same but at least it won’t be greeted with cackles of derision.
You also don’t want a name that puts you out on a limb. Take Sulovesdrama, a charming little blog that should cease being a well-kept secret. Fine if Su digs dramas now, but what if a day should come when she is no longer in love? Then what? Thus, pick a name that gives you room to change and diversify, such as the one chosen by a clever blogger. If one day this blogger discovers a new addiction and wants to write about that, she can wag a finger at those who wail, “Joonni, why are you blogging about sugar gliders?!” She can say, “The warning was up there all along.”
After you’ve decided on a name that takes into account the present and the future, think about a tagline. Unfortunately, the one tagline that you swear best encapsulates what you want to do has already been coined and patented years ago. That’s right, you can’t use “blogging my kdrama obsession,” not even if it came to you in an epiphany. That tagline is owned; don’t mess with its owner.
One of our favorite taglines is “I’ll talk about dramas if I want to” because it exudes a whole lot of sass. It’s also perfect because talking about dramas is exactly what that blog does, with supreme confidence. Do not try to be self-effacing with a tagline like “kdrama fluff and stuff,” not unless you want to rile those who take their Korean dramas very seriously. Also, never ever combine “fluff” with “prattle”; that’s like shooting your own foot twice.
Identity in place, what’s next? A platform and a theme. You create your blog, give it that name and tagline that you have carefully chosen, and pick a theme with which to showcase it. A simple and functional one will do for now; six months or a year later you could always switch to another design. Refrain from switching themes every two days; it’s disorientating to people (and other creatures) who favor familiarity over madcap experimentation. Save your creativity for your blog posts instead.
Now we’re ready to talk about your focus. What exactly do you want to do?
Before you respond with an eye-rolling “blog about kdramas, duh,” consider this: With so many Korean drama blogs already out there, can you offer something that is different? Not necessarily unique, but not too commonplace that you become just another person on the street. For example, can you paint scenes from a drama and make them so beautiful and lifelike your readers do a double take and curse the genes that make them artistically-challenged? Can you do live recaps from Seoul and do them so well people continents away set their alarms so that they can read your recaps the moment you publish them?
Don’t despair if you can neither paint Korean dramas nor recap them in real time; that breed of bloggers is rare and special anyway. If all you have is a love for the dramas and for writing, that’s all you need. Keep the faith! Hwaiting!
First, cultivate that love. We are referring, of course, to your love for Korean dramas. Horse before cart. You watched the dramas, got addicted (got innocent bystanders addicted, too), and decided you wanted to write about them. You didn’t start out watching dramas because you happened to love writing. Get your priorities (and timeline) straight.
Your dramas are your material. Keep watching so that you have things to write about. And if you have others in your household who love watching, do not deprive them of that pleasure. Kindness to all, remember?
As you watch, do not worry about how you want to write. Some people multi-task like they were born doing it (screaming, kicking, socking the midwife one in the jaw), but a majority of viewers concentrate on just watching because the effort itself (all that squealing and swearing that they do) drains them and they are barely coherent after that. Finish watching first, then mull over that hour or two that you’ve just spent. What impressions linger?
In a book that we read whose title and author we’ve forgotten (because a lot of books get read and tossed aside around here), these words left a mark, enough for them to be scribbled on a post-it and stuck on a place where they could be seen every day:
Your readers want to know what you make out of the work — how you interpret it, or why you like or dislike it.
That’s all there is to a review. Not too daunting, is it? A recap’s the same, even if the format’s different somewhat. People come to your blog because they value your opinion; they like knowing what you think. But even as you share your thoughts, leave some room for your readers. Try not say everything that has to be said about an episode or a whole series; resist the urge to over-analyze. Plant a seed and let it grow; your readers are intelligent and can make up their own minds. Kevin Grossley-Holland puts it this way:
I see the role of the writer as creating a room with big windows and leaving the reader to imagine. It’s a meeting on the page.
Speaking of a “meeting on the page,” that’s an admirable goal but it shouldn’t become an overriding concern. Your readers are important, sure, but you shouldn’t be blogging just for them. Don’t write to please others; write to please yourself. Your writing should entertain you before it can entertain anyone else. If you find yourself bored by your own words, others will likely be bored as well. That’s why it’s best not to hurry when you write, but to approach it with a measure of caution and deliberation so that months or years later, you can reread the piece without cringing.
Do not, however, become excessively careful and deliberate. Do not become like one blogger that we have observed, who pores over her writing like a surgeon reattaching blood vessels, spending upwards of two hours on just the first paragraph, editing and editing until the poor paragraph can scarcely breathe, so stripped is it of life. Blogging should be fun. It should make both blogger and reader happy.
That’s why some of our favorite blogs are the ones that make us laugh. Their owners have a wondrous way with words; their posts crack us up because the humor is sharp and wicked.
Ha, twins separated at birth, but we digress.
Use pictures in your writing, and use your words to paint pictures. Show rather than tell. Instead of declaring that a particular scene is silly, describe it so that there’s no mistaking the silliness. Let your readers walk alongside you so that they can take ownership of the journey, rather than have everything spelled out in so many words for them.
Above all—above a natural flair for writing and devotion to the craft—write with heart. Write because it gives you joy to be able to create something out of nothing. “Why do writers write? Because it isn’t there,” says Thomas Berger. There isn’t going to be another blog like yours (unless you are all about taking content from other bloggers and reproducing it as if it’s your own; that’s “plagiarism,” from the Latin word “plagiarius,” which means kidnapper). No one is going to write like you, and you are not going to write like anyone else. Leave your own mark as a blogger of Korean dramas and take pride in that, even when the number of hits is low and the comments few and far between.
Keep writing. More importantly (please, please, please), keep watching!
Archidamus, Gertrude, Donalbain, Portia, and Hortensius