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The Vine

The Tomato Nation advice column addresses your questions on etiquette, grammar, romance, and pet misbehavior. Ask The Readers about books or fashion today!

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The Vine: September 19, 2012

Submitted by on September 19, 2012 – 3:19 PM4 Comments

A friend and I have been batting around the idea of starting a blog together, as a way to keep in touch, bounce ideas off of each other, in essence have the conversations that we would have with each other if we didn't live so far apart (about 5000 miles). We would like the blog to have a "conversational" style, such as your "On The Move," NPR's Sandwich Mondays and other similar posts, where it comes across as having your audience witness this conversation.

Our question is really how do we accomplish this? Are you re-writing convos like this from memory? Did you take notes for pieces like GBC, record the conversation, or maybe it all happened in instant messenger and you later edited it?

I've also tried to search the internet for suggestions on how conversation-style blogs are done but I'm not coming up with anything with the search terms I've tried.

We'd appreciate any insight you can give us. Thanks!

Rachel G.

Dear Rachel,

Except for the Out With The Crowd interviews, which are transcripts of actual conversations, the conversation entries are my version of what those exchanges would sound like. The other person in the entry got to read it first, and overrule anything I might have had them say in the piece that they wouldn't actually say (Wing did object to something about Pat Sajak — rightly, heh — but I think I didn't change it because it dicked up the flow? But that's the only time that happened, that I can recall). A few of them contain exchanges from IM, or started as IM nuggets, but mostly I wrote them myself.

I hope I made it look easy, but it's fairly time-consuming, to make it naturalistic but still maintain a decent pace and cover all the ground you want it to…and the blog is the two of you, so the form may better follow the function if you just transcribe your IM conversations or texts, and clean it up a bit for clarity. You may want to play around with the format and see what's faster, or feels more fun; you can always try writing both sides yourself, and see if it's for you…and if it's too slow, ditch it.

Other media could also be fun and save you time. You can do screenshots of Twitter DMs; you can do micro-podcasts, if your blog allows you to upload audio (Tumblr is good for mixed-format blogs); you can do a live-blog type of thing, and your readers can "watch" you guys talking to each other (I use Cover It Live, and you don't have to make it live — readers can see/follow it after the fact. Look up the Read-Along live chats to see what I mean).

And the readers will no doubt suggest something that I've forgotten.

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4 Comments »

  • Jacq says:

    Could another way of doing it be for you and your friend to take it in turns to update your joint blog, so you can each respond to what the other one has said? It would be less conversational, but it might be easier.

  • Megan says:

    My friend (an exceptional blogger on her own) and I (who once had an audience) tried an epistolary blog. It was OK, but after a year or two, we weren't addressing each other's letters as much as putting up occasional unrelated posts. Like everything else about blogging, I think there are people to whom a particular format comes easy (a pic-a-day, confessional, list); maybe this one will be right for you.

  • Angharad says:

    A few friends and I tried to do something similar after college. One person would put together a few comments in an email and forward it to the next person on the list. The second person would choose which comment to respond to, edit the others out, and forward it to the third person. After that, it kept getting forwarded down the list so that everyone had a chance to respond to everyone else (usually two or three times) as well as giving the 'conversation' a chance to naturally meander. With a little editing, you got a relatively conversational tone that was a decent size post. It worked well for a group of five or six people, but might work for two as well.

  • I knew my knitting blog knowledge would someday be useful says:

    This is a classic of the genre: http://www.masondixonknitting.com/

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