Category: Writing

A terse conversation with a writer friend

“Sir, can a write-up be as good as it supposed to be if I make it look good or readable?”

This question was asked by one of my teammates recently. He is also a content writer in a team which I head. I found the question interesting so I replied carefully.

I said – “If you present your article in a good way by keeping things in order, writing short sentences, and making your information lucid, it will surely increase its readability factor. However, that doesn’t make it an informative and quality piece at all.”

Confused by my explanation, as expected, I received another question from him.

He asked – “I didn’t quite follow you, sir? Are readability and quality two different aspects of writing?”

“Yes, they are!” was my answer. “If you make an article readable, people will likely to take a look at it.  They will feel interested to read it. They may stay on your write up a bit longer.”

“However, this sort of writing discipline doesn’t preclude your write up from catching enthusiastic response from your readers. I mean to say, they will read your content but not for longer if it doesn’t convey values.”

“The point is, readability is one thing and quality is quite another. To make your write up a compelling read for your readers, you have to write it keeping things in both ways.

For example, you need to make it readable and include some interesting facts so that it sounds a great reading. Unless readers feel they are being enlightened in a certain way by your manuscript, they will not stay on your write-up, regardless of how readable way.”

“What if quality content is not readable?”

“That will surely kill the spirit of reading. Suppose I have written a blog and have forgotten to make it readable, there is no use of it for my readers. Though quality-wise, some people may like to read it, but the write-up will fail to earn sizeable viewership count. And this viewership count is a vital touchstone for establishing credence of your craft.”

“If I think correctly, writing is not simply being quality, yes?”

“Absolutely. You have to ensure if your piece is really presentable in both ways – readability and quality wise. To make your write up readable, include points-wise narration of your facts in it. To make it quality, make sure those points are tenable and don’t mean simply a confabulation.

“What about grammar then?”

“See, I will never advise you to be a grammar Nazi. Respect it but not to the point of compromising it with your creativity. Keep singularity and plurality of your Verbs based on their corresponding Subject. Using proper grammar in sentences is an acquired taste; you will come to know of it eventually. Just practice hard.”

My standpoint on how to make your writing attention grabber

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To my subjective comprehension as a writer, one must write to EXPRESS, not to IMPRESS.

Having said that, make your writing READABLE; not from the standpoint of what it is, but also from the perspective of how it can help the readers learn from it.

Here is my gentle persuasion for you in this context.

Avoid being besotted with ‘Attention seeking” individual. Also, do not get obsessed with ‘Excellence’, though you must try harder to improve the quality of your craft a notch higher. Thinking that you can make your piece of writing attention grabber is not gonna happen unless you make it readable and informative.

As long as you keep on writing good pieces of stuff that could enlighten others positively, you are always miles ahead in the race than others who write down things just to impress others.

I have also come to an understanding (I find this knowledge quite valuable) that if you have a sizeable stock of “interesting and action-provoking” words, your writing will always stand out from the rest. However, it doesn’t mean to boast of how verbose you are with the words.

Textual eloquence (the way you speak your mind through words) without a real substance falls apart to the discretion of readers, especially those like to read something of substantial value than your verbose write-up. Such write ups draw attention from readers, but just for a short while.

One of the most important reasons behind increasing bounce rates of a website is thin content or the content written for the purpose of impressing others. On the contrary, such writing tactic could pronounce a counterproductive means for your forte; say, for example, readers will turn down your manuscript condemning it a bombastic piece of your confabulation.

I have also learned from my experience, that you can’t impress everyone with your writing. This is not because there is something wrong in your creative expression; it might be like the kind of stuff you are sharing is not actually for EVERYONE.

For example, if you are sharing your expertise on CLOUD COMPUTING on Quora, your stuff will draw the attention of the readers genuinely interested in reading such stuff. Your writing will not entice the readers seeking something else, say, for example, information on why La La Land Oscar win is a disastrous turn of event for Hollywood.

It is good to have mastery of grammar and use this knowledge in in your writing, but you should avoid using it to an extent beyond which your writing looks like nothing but a piece of the robotically generated manuscript; tasteless, uninteresting, and boring.

I mean to say using grammar in your sentence promotes admissibility of your allegiance to grammar, but it also affords to make your write-up sound insipid. For the sake of maintaining taste and appeal, try to restrict grammatical involvement in your writing.

Great poets like Wordsworth, Tennyson loved their creative expressions and spoke their mind through words without thinking about grammar.

Common grammatical mistakes like SUBJECT+VERB+AGREEMENT must definitely be followed. Obsession with grammar kind of slows down creative expression or it makes you feel disoriented.

Content is king, and it is not a LIE

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I have just read a headline of SEJ (SEARCH ENGINE JOURNAL) post, announcing that it is the biggest falsehood to pronounce that content is king.

I have not read the article at all, as the headline of it made me upset, wondering what the heck was the writer meant by that sort of (CLICK BAIT) headline.

I understand that SEO or search engine optimization has evolved distinctively from its erstwhile and unacceptable blackhat SEO tactic to its modernistic and a rather acceptable transition, in which nobody can refute significance of content. Today’s SEO understands what content could do to the status-quo of a website. Believe it or not, it is an integral part of SEO tactic.

My take is that content must be thanked for its great contribution to the success of a website or business of a brand. If that were not the case, and content, as impugned by so called reputable web sources, were not considered to be the prime factor for any brand involved in the digital marketing, we wouldn’t have witnessed the success of many websites today, including the Copyblogger and similar ones.

These sources are considered credible by their visitors, not because these sources are optimised from the perspective of their website’s layout, graphical beauty, linking tactics; and a host of algorithm-atic works called On-Page SEO.

They are popular today because of their high-quality content; the information which has helped their visitors learn something new, and has broadened their viewpoints or ideology positively or has compounded their perspective in a new way of observing things.

I have been writing content for the last 5 years. The era my profession as a writer belongs to was the era when witnessing meaningless textual contents on any subject that demanded your narrative to be quality and users-centric was the order of the day. I was told by my employers to stuff an article/blog with a set of keywords prioritised based on their relevance pertaining to increasing SERP stand of their websites in Google.

Probably, even the search engines were not advanced in those days, which was the reason why inundation of cheap content full of keywords and backlinks registered their (annoying) dominance on the Internet. Though writers were in demand and bulk contents were written to maintain a continual supply of content to the content mill or to those online platforms trading content for their clients.

However, even in those days, I sort of felt relaxed to see that content was still regarded as the mainstay for branding a product/service. If I recollect correctly, I used to receive many requests for short content to be written for small brands, and a guy told me once that without sufficient content, his website went into the pit of Google’s abysmal space. Well, not practically…..he meant to say the dearth of sufficient content had the ranking of his website collapsed in Google and he was then at the receiving end of losing a business of much, much money (he did not elaborate on that part).

Now there is nothing like that. Google and other search engines pulled up their socks. They became smarter. They started to whiplash the website owners promoting bad content. Google, of course, has gone far ahead compared to its counterparts. The point is, among all the launching of new and upgraded algorithms of Google, one thing that I have personally observed is that they are giving priority, I mean, serious priority to the CONTENT. If you don’t believe me, read Google’s PANDA update.

This algorithm is like Terence Fletcher, a jazz instructor in the movie, WHIPLASH. I hope you guys have watched the movie. Just as Terence was to Andrew Neiman, Panda is to the websites with THIN CONTENT.

Well, there’s just one difference, though. Panda, unlike Terence, will not tell you what to do if your tune (behaviour) doesn’t accord quite to its TEMPO 🙂

Anyway, my point is – content is really a king, and it is not a hoax. What matters essentially in this context, though, is that NOT ALL CONTENT CAN BE SAID, KING. The content that gives you some knowledge; and information that you were seeking, a perspective that you wanted to be changed positively and informatively can be said, KING.

Here, king stands for SIGNIFICANCE. The significance quotient of your content is what determines its VALUE, for your target readers, and for your target SE (search engine/s).

I don’t mean to discredit SEO at all. I believe a combination of quality SEO and quality Content could be the culmination of a powerful branding. The result of such unification is always substantial, in the manifestation of widespread visibility of your brand, better engagement, great retention ratio, and an increased chance for lead’s conversion.

Year 2016 in Flashback

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The year 2016 is gone for good.

I felt a bit emotional over its forever farewell. But if the truth to be told, the past year was full of difficulty for me. I got an employment in a company that was insensitively callous toward employees.

Worse, it proved to be a blot on my financial situation, literally brought me on the brink of starvation, for the employer refused to pay remuneration on the set date.

But after one year I don’t feel like cursing the employer, for what happened with me was the result of what I tend to believe now, was the career mistake, something that is the order of the day with most of the individuals these days.

I joined another company. I felt over the moon for a few days as the job required me to utilize my skill in the genre I had no previous experience of. But very soon once the bloated enthusiasm of mine was brought to its (impending) deflation.

I had to leave the job due to severity of mental annoyance, especially the experience felt as if I was sentenced to an eternal confinement of something that makes escapade seems impossible.

Took sigh of relief when I tendered my willful resignation.

The exit from the last employer ensued an outcome of something I never ever imagined in my life. I remained unemployed for, say nearly 3 months! Yes, I was jobless for the three months.

Reason? I do not know what was the real reason, but I guess I was not mentally prepared to be in a job at all.

As a result, I halfheartedly attended some interviews. While some turned down my candidature, I turned down some of the job offers. No it was not retaliatory kind of externalizing my frustration. I sort of didn’t like my credibility as a writer being questioned and that my salary to be judged by pedantic interviewers, who said my being jobless can’t qualify me to demand the salary as per my expectation.

Then I realized – when you are down in life, or out of luck/job, guys in wolf-skin take the helm of being the judge of your character, or better say – the cultivator of your future.

So, I remained jobless for 3 months. The mental stress, with each passing days at home, was getting close to what I tend to term now as ‘excruciating’. I was actually turning myself into a kind of freak. Sometimes I felt I was getting paranoid due to overwhelming frustration that I was acquiring day by day sitting at home, doing nothing.

I know I was not good enough how to track jobs, as most of the time I expected recruiters call me, for that was the only thing I thought I could prove my worth to the prospective employers.

Then I went to my hometown. My parent forced me to come down there. They wanted me to attend certain worships. Most importantly, Durga Puja was round the corner. This festival is celebrated at my hometown quite fervently.

It had been four years since I attended the festival. Therefore, I could not refuse their persistent demands to come to hometown. Moreover, I was not making any headway either in terms of finding a new employment.

At hometown I did enjoy the festival. However, certain things happened that I had never imagined in my wildest dreams. Hate to say that I can’t disclose them here, but I swear I went through the avalanche of vilification.

My fault? I was jobless.

I became eyesore to some (not my family) who thought of me as an indolent fellow rejecting jobs as if I was scared of them. I tried to make them understand but eventually kept mum, believing when you’re out of money, you’re dirt-bag, for others.

I was not hurt that people made a fun of my unemployment. I was bruised deeply by the mockery of those I held close to my heart.

My worship was cancelled as my family was short on money necessary to perform the worships.

In the meantime, I made a habit of worshiping deity, Durga. I read DurgaShaptshati every day, even though Durga Puja was over. As far as I can remember now, I may have missed worshiping her on one or two times.

After living more than a month of humiliation at my hometown, I came back to Delhi, hoping to find out a new job.

I got a new one.

I cant talk much about the new job. I have started doing it recently. But I am sure of the fact that this is incredible, much to what I wanted always. To be in the position where you are supposed to build future of your peers by helping them fare well in their forte is something I wanted to have in my job.

Back to old year 2016.

The conclusion is – the past year was full of unpleasant events for me. May be I was running out of divine luck or possibly my inability not to read between the lines, or may be I was too stubborn not to subjugate myself to the gloating of others, or probably I actually did not want to be in job at all.

However, the past year taught me a very, very, and extremely very important lesson about living a life without money. It taught me how to be seriously responsible in life and not to take things badly on impulse.

I tend to believe that the past year has been quite an edifying experience, rather than telling it that it was unsavory to an extent.

The past year was like a guru to me, which helped me come in terms with the wisdom, that when things are to happen, they manifest anyway. You have no control at all on certain things fated to appear in your life, in any form.

I may sound like a fatalist, but the kind of experience I went through in the last year I tend to believe that there is indeed something called destiny and there is God somewhere looking after us in some other ways.

All the best to the year gone by. All new hopes and expectations for the year 2017.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, READERS!

#GST Passed – Headway for streamlined taxation, a need long overdue

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After tumultuous political juggernauts, years-long pendency and judicious persuasion, the time-sensitive approval of a rather highly anticipated GST (Goods and Services Tax) has finally come to a surprisingly happy reality, subsequent to the upper house of Indian parliament (Rajya Sabha) having taken cognizance of the dire needs of the bill.

As self-explanatory as it seems, the GST passage affords semblance of ‘Joie De Vivre’ moments nationwide; specifically in political turfs, wherein the cleared GST symbolizes jollification of a rather stalled parliament, which sometimes turns itself as a house of witless outcry, squabbles and slur-mongering of a far-fetched political rivalry.

As a matter of fact, the passage of GST now poses to be India’s rapid headway towards manifestation of a rather streamlined taxation environ in light of the fact that country has long been over-pressurized  under cumulative burden of variant taxes implemented State-wise across the nation.

Consequently, it has given rise to inflexible scenario, too difficult to maintain compliance with, as businesses had to queue up to receive tax approval for boarder’s passage of their logistics being transported through fleet vehicles.

As of now a business company, on sufferance, undergoes accouterments of allied taxes such as:

  • Central Excise Duty
  • Additional Excise Duty
  • Service Tax
  • Additional Customs Duty (Countervailing Duty)
  • Special Additional Duty of Customs

…to be complied regardless of the time-consuming modus operandi of the processes involved.

Now with the implementation of GST, all the discrete tax bifurcations will be subsumed into one broad category, thereby abolishing the worrisome tax compliances for good, sigh of relief for Indian industries of variant business sizes. (Note: India has two distinctive tax categories: 1. Direct taxes 2. Indirect taxes). 

In addition, logistic transportation via boarder to boarder of state-destined areas will no longer be subjugated to the obduracy of compulsory monitoring by security personals at state’s boarder to vindicate if the goods bear appropriate tax compliance.

GST clearance is seen as linchpin factor in spearheading the economic growth trajectory of India, considering its path will no longer observe the mandatory tax compliances separately as taxation on goods and logistics will be unified across the nation, which is suggestive of the barometer to gauge the economic-sensitive market of India.

 

If Robert fathered Jon Snow, why does he take after Eddard? Demystifying Game of Throne

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Remember the scene of bed-confined Lyanna pleading Ned Stark not to tell Robert Baratheon about the new-born child?

After watching Lyanna whispering into Ned Stark about the infant, imploring him to maintain anonymity of rather ‘surprising revelation’ (for Ned, of course) and share it with none, including specifically Robert Baratheon, I was surprised by the secret unfolding. Most importantly, what flummoxed me most was the scene when the child’s face slowly reappears with that of Jon Snow.

The point is, has Robert fathered Jon?

We know both Ned and Robert loved Lyanna very much, and Robert was emotionally pissed off at Ned for having her buried in the crypt of Winterfell.

To Robert –

“She should be on a hill somewhere, under a fruit tree, with the sun and clouds above her and the rain to wash her clean”.

It shows Robert’s deep-seated love for Lyanna, oblivious to him that he inadvertently impregnated her with a son (I am just extrapolating).

I raised the similar question on Facebook in the fan page of GoT, to which my post was responded by people. The respondents said it was highly unlikely that Robert might have fathered Jon Snow, considering he was born a year and a half after Lyanna was kidnapped by Rhaeger. Another respondent said Robert would’ve killed the child if Ned didn’t proclaim him his bastard child.

Well, my point is, Lyanna was betrothed to Robert. Kidnapping doesnt afford the implication that she carried Rhaeher’s child. If we go by that assumption, we sort of conjure up the picture of the scene wherein Rhaecher may have forced himself on Lynna and she, as a result of that forced sexual intercourse, born the child, Jon.

Frankly, I hate arriving at this conclusion, because it seems out of the context, even though some may lay claim that it is logical, on prima facie.

Why?

First thing, since Lyanna was betrothed to Robert, I am sure they may have got laid one or two times, or may be more than that. So, the impregnation should be seen as a natural occurrence, regardless of whether Robert was unaware of it.

But the most puzzling thing is, Jon looks very much like Eddard Stark (read the book) and this is where my logic falls apart. Wife of Ned, Catelyn Stark,loathed Jon considering his close resemblance with Ned.

And here is the conundrum of all the riddles – if Ned may have fathered Jon, then in whose belly?

I guess, that secret remains to be unfolded, and when it will be revealed, that will be sort of earth-shattering reality. This is because, I sort of feel sympathetic about Jon and do not take lightly when he is called ‘Bastard”, a stigma he’s been silently bearing since the birth.

High time R.R Martin penned a mother to Jon, a royal honor this fabulous character of GoT deserves!

(Those believing Lyanna was not betrothed to Robert, must read this – Lyanna Stark

Now, here is the story of my belief. Suppose Robert fathered Jon and if that actually appears based on my extrapolation of the scene (where the face of the child reappears with that of Jon), I guess Cersei Lannister will have another mighty contender or heir to the throne of Iron Gate alongside Daenerys or Tyrian Lannister.

Jaime Lannister seems to be at the bottom of food chain, for now. But I highly suspect if the Imp will make his way to the throne successfully, regardless of how eloquent he is. I hope he has realistic grasp of his weakness at the moment and will not do anything stupid that may jeopardize his condition as Hand of Queen to Daenerys.

Daenarys is one of the most intelligent, power-hungry characters of GoT. I loved her fights and willpower of not letting herself to be the victim of circumstances. Despite being widow, her entire journey from start to until now (season 6) is testimony of her commendable grit and tenacity. I admired her for granting mercy to Tyrian even though she knew that her State’s predicament was brought forth by none other than cruel Lannister clan.

Meanwhile, Daenerys and the vagary of her three fire-puking dragons can wreck havoc on the Lord of the Seven Kingdoms. This further mounts up my apprehension about whether Jon Snow could be able to lay claim on the Iron Gate, considering the rival who is relatively more aggressive and have huge army of slaves boarded in the fleet of ships bound to the Lord of the Seven Kingdoms with the single most purpose – lay claim on the throne by whatever means necessary.

However, I also suspect mood-swing of Daenerys at this moment.

What if she abdicates her ambition for iron gate? It is because of the fact that she was miserably failed to restore peace in the Slaver’s Bay, at which Tyrian, her advisory, mocked and cautioned retreat from the pursuit of being queen of any kingdom.

I know that was merely said in jest by Tyrian, but it was implicative of Daenerys’ lacking required skill to rule. May be she claimed the iron gate, but then what?

Will she be able to rule it? OR, will she anoint Tyrian as King, her Hand of the Queen?

Lastly, what about White Walkers? Will they find out Bran? Will they resuscitate Hodor? What if they assail on the Lords of the Seven Kingdom?

Let’s see what season 7 entails for us. Like other fans, I myself is dying with speculation of this intoxicating complexity of the show.

Winter is coming!