Plotting out plot

Joe’s Post #168

So, when I find something interesting, I like to share it.

Sometimes that’s like, “hey look at this weird growth on my butt, what do you think that is?”

Sometimes it’s something I find on the internet.

So check this out. A new way of looking at plotting. It comes from Oz and Ends by J.L Bell. 

A cool way to look at plotting

A cool way to look at plotting

Now the cool thing I like about this, is it looks at making the hero’s life hell in a whole different way and can be used for pretty much any part of your book. It’s sort of a rinse and repeat for writers.

heros journeySo why did this speak to me? Well, there are a ton of books and articles on how to plot. I’m sure you’ve seen some of them, the most famous being the Hero’s Journey.

But nowhere have I seen something that gets your mind thinking like this one did. It’s basically character meets conflict to create plot.

Now, sure, it doesn’t tell you how to put in backstory or when to introduce important pieces of information vital to the story, but try running that ‘plotting made simple’ template through your story and see what happens.

Or take a look at this from Jody Sparks.

Plotting by Jody Sparks

Plotting by Jody Sparks


Also, if you have some free time, check out Robert J Saywer’s latest post. Here. It’s a great read about the craft of world building and writing.

And that’s it from me. No wise words of wisdom from me about how to write, but please check out these other bloggers/writers. They’re awesome.


What’s in a number?


Helga’s Blog-Slog Post #25 — Is there anything else we can talk about on the topic of writing that we haven’t yet covered in our 130 or so posts on this blog? I have to confess that blog-fatigue occasionally strikes me, especially when it’s my turn to write a new post. (I admit though that I can’t wait each morning Monday to Thursday to read my partners’ posts)

So I started philosophizing about the value of blogging. Never mind this blog. How about all the others, floating in cyberspace, vying for your attention? Just how many blogs are there, anyway?

Apparently, a number is difficult to come by, because Google and other search engines don’t share that information. Still, research firms have come up with estimates, although rough at best. Reason being, there are many so-called dead or ‘zombie-blogs’ littering cyberspace, which have been abandoned or discontinued.

To come up with a number specifically for writing blogs, is even more challenging. But blog statistics in general hold a certain fascination. Here are some early numbers I would like to share, courtesy from several sources, including Caslon Analytics. Keep in mind, these numbers are a few years old now, ending around 2006. (It’s instructive for putting it into context with current numbers, further down).

In January 2002 alone some 41,000 people created new blogs using Blogger, and there were then more than 500,000. In August 2002 another source claimed that Blogger had 350,000 users, with converts supposedly “creating a new weblog every 40 seconds, or more than 60,000 a month”. By early 2006 that had risen to around 160,000 per month.

Live Journal, according to New York Times, had signed up 690,000 users since 1998 and was currently gaining another 1,100 bloggers per day. It is unclear whether all 690,000 were (and still are) maintaining their personal pages and, if so, how frequently.

In the same month the Times claimed that Brazil was the “second-largest Blogger-using country” after the US, with up to 13% of the 750,000 Blogger users.

Wired exulted that “nine blogs are created every minute and 2.3 content updates are posted every second.” In November 2004, PubSub claimed to track 6.4 million blogs.

In July 2006 the Pew Internet & American Life Project estimated that the US “blog population has grown to about 12 million American adults”, some 8% of US adult Internet users. The number of US blog readers was estimated as 57 million adults (39% of the US online population), although few of those people read widely or read often.

But what about staying power?

Several studies indicate that most blogs are abandoned soon after creation (with 60% to 80% abandoned within one month, depending on whose figures you choose to believe) and that few are regularly updated. The ‘average blog’ thus has the lifespan of a fruit fly. One cruel reader of that page commented that the average blog also has the intelligence of a fly.

So much for blog writers. But what about blog audiences? Here are some tidbits on demographics:

One research company claims that blogs are primarily read by men (60% vs 40% women; currently it has shifted slightly to 55% male vs. 45% women) and in households where the total income is over US$60,000 per year (again, these are 2006 figures).

But wait, there’s more:

Researcher Leigh Philips (again from Caslon Analytics) sniffed in 2003 that “blogging remains the dominion of geeks, wittier-than-thou twenty-to-thirty-somethings in Manhattan and angry gay Republicans”.

Now let’s take a look at some more current statistics. What a difference a few years make. Are you ready for this? Hat Trick Associates, to use one example, has this to say:

Current estimates say there are about 450 million “active” English language blogs right now, but that number varies according to the source. Technorati estimated over 200 million blogs at the start of 2009, with exponential growth since then.

These numbers change daily however, as new blogs are started by the thousands (or tens of thousands) every day, and a large number of blogs have also reached the point of where they could be defined as “abandoned” and should be subtracted. When including non-English in the total number, especially those in Chinese Mandarin, and there may be over one billion blogs worldwide.

This equates to 1 out of every 6 people in the world with a personal blog!

That of course begs the question ‘How many people read or follow all these blogs?’

Once again there is no reliable tracking mechanism. But certainly we are talking about many hundreds of millions of people, maybe 500 or 600 million total (Compare that to 57 Million blog readers in 2006 as mentioned earlier). If you include non-English blogs again, we can easily assume a number well above a billion people (remember, there might be a billion bloggers!) perhaps even more than 2 billion – or about 1 out of every 3 human beings on the planet. Think about it:

~ More than 2 Billion Blog Readers ~

“With such a massive number of worldwide readers,” Hat Trick Associates reminds us, “it should go without saying that an active blog can be absolutely VITAL to establishing a strong web presence for your company or brands. Blogging also allows you to regularly share “fresh” content, the kind that has become key to solid search engine rankings from Google, Bing and other search engines…whose web crawlers are constantly seeking out and indexing new content.”

As expected, plenty of advice is available on how to become a ‘killer blogger’, if you are willing to fork over some money. Just check Amazon and search ‘Books on Blogging’. Last I checked, 483 titles were on offer just on that site. There are also a number of web sites that list all sorts of interesting demographics about bloggers and blog readers. For example, the typical reader of the world’s top blogs is 38 years old, according to a new @Pingdom study.

And the latest numbers on our own only, updated frequently, the current number of blogs at the point of writing this, is


How many posts are published on users produce about 39.3 million new posts and 41.4 million new comments each month.

And if that hasn’t convinced anyone yet about casting your net wide to reach an audience, this one should:

How many people read blogs on

Over 389 million people view more than 3.6 billion pages each month.

Happy Blogging all around!