Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Star Tech

The Writing's On The (Virtual) Wall

A few days ago, I was asked to review the blog written by Bangalore-based Shashikiran Mullur.

The writing on your blog is very refreshing and there is a virtual ``welcome'' sign on your site, inviting us back again and again. I've made a few visits to your home town in my days as a spotswriter, but you certainly paint a vivid picture of your surroundings. Your word pictures are never static, your phrases are never hackneyed. Since you asked me if I would care to review your blog, I have savoured the posts and their diverse subjects.

Many bloggers have their niche subjects, their comfort zones. You, on the other hand, are adept at describing in two succinct paragraphs how you are about to listen to a motivational speaker. The minutae of life, in the hands of a less capable writer, mean nothing to readers 10,000 kilometres away. But you venture into every subject with abandon - and you present your thoughts with aplomb.

In particular, I really enjoyed your description of the time spent beside the Ulsoor Lake. You switched us from one quadrant of the scene to the next with geographical precision, and with a few brush strokes you gave us an series of images as if we were watching the scene through one of those old ViewMaster gadgets. They were short, sharp, precise descriptions and they were presented in sharp focus.

On another post, one phrase in particular caught my eye. It was your description: ``We went down to the edge to the river: two ribbons under the dilapidated bridge fused to a sloughy green before our land.'' That's your forte. And you span such a rich variety of subjects. We learn about the Scottish nun at your school, we learn about your view of Thai boxing, we learn about the city that embraces you, we learn about your yen for travel. I enjoyed the introspective sentence: ``Ishmael could tell when he needed to go away to sea. I can tell when I need to go away to Singapore: when Apple have released upgrades.''

But I would make some (minor) suggestions. It might not be a bad idea to write shorter paragraphs on your blog. It's all about grabbing the attention of a first-time reader - and a long paragraph, not matter how well written it may be, is likely to be a deterrent.

And finally, one other suggestion that I have made to many other terrific bloggers. Blogging is a multi-dimensional medium. It is not static. So pay a little attention to design elements. You could introduce photographs, artwork or breakout quotes. These and other devices simply break up the monotony of screen after screen of text. You write so well, but you also need to grab the attention of a casual reader or web-surfing visitor and force him or her to remember (and return to) your blog.

Your readers, I'm guessing, come from all round the world. They are curious, but not in an inquisitive way. They want to be invited into your life, your ambience, your surroundings. Invite them in, in that wonderfully hospitable Indian way. Show them images of the subjects you describe so intimately. It will add another dimension to a memorable blog.


Bart said...

I should start mentoring blogs. Of course, my way of mentoring them would be pretty bad, but hey...I could tell them that coming in.

Anonymous said...

Hi David: I wasn't expecting what I read. I'm feeling greatly encouraged from what you say. Thanks for your suggestions—I shall try them. Above all, thanks for sifting my site for review.

I write a post a week, and I wish to increase the frequency. I need to work on that too.

david mcmahon said...

Hi Bart-Man,

What a great idea. Why don't you write a post inviting people to have their blogs critiques by you?

Let me know and I'll link to the post.

As long as a mentor's advice is unbiased, that's all that matters. Honesty and integrity above all - and you have 'em both.



david mcmahon said...

Hi Shashikiran,

Great to know the review has encouraged you - and I look forward to reading more updates on your site.

You have a flair for language - and I'd love to see more than one post a week.

Do keep in touch and let me know if there's anything I can do.



Anonymous said...

umm...... david, would you like to review my blog too?? it would be great if you could do that!!

david mcmahon said...

Hi Sam,

No worries at all, I'd be delighted to. If I haven't posted the review by Tuesday, give me a not-very-subtle nudge.



Anonymous said...

Hi David,
This is TSSM from Chennai,India.
Came to your site thru' RK's post.(rambling with bellur).

It gives me a warm and friendly feeling to go through your blog site.

I greatly appreciate your willingness to help the fellow bloggers.

Have a great day.

david mcmahon said...


Nice of you to leave such a generous comment. Thank you very much.

I guess blogging reveals a lot about ourselves - and I guess that's just the way I was brought up.

My thanks to you and I hope to see you back here soon.



Cuckoo said...

Hi David,

How are you doing? I am in the middle of two trips so haven't checked all your posts. But at the same time would request you to review my blog as well whenever you have time. Not now but sometime later. No hurries at all.

You had given me feedback once but there was nothing to improve upon in that feedback.

Hope you are having wonderful time with your posts and how's the progress of your second book ?

Take care,

Lotus Reads said...

David, what a great critique of Shashikiran's blog and writing..you're spot on! Shashikiran's blog is a pleasure to read and so is your assessment of his blog.

I await your next critique!