Sunday, December 19, 2010

Things a Novelist Needs to Know About Writing for the Internet

Many novelists that I run into tell me they don’t need to know how to write for the Internet because they only write books. That’s not exactly accurate. If a writer has an online presence—a blog or a website or they contribute to a blog or a website—they need to know how to connect to the Internet reader. Otherwise, they’re wasting their time, and let’s face it—no writer I know has time to waste.

So here are the basics:

People Read Differently on the Internet
One of the great things about the Internet is the ease with which people can find information. Readers are often looking for information fast. They want to be able to read or scan the content quickly to find what they want. That means the author must make organization and readability of primary importance.

Studies also show that people generally read up to 25% slower on computer screens. The reasons are complex, but here are a few:
  •  Computer monitors are harder on the eye than paper
  • They generally have fairly low resolution, so the words aren't as sharp
  •  Also, while the contrast between ink and paper is usually strong and fairly consistent, monitor settings can vary widely depending on type and settings 

Because of these factors, most people find it tiring and even frustrating to read long articles online.

Here’s how to compensate:
  • Utilize short paragraphs, never more than 100 words in length
  • Don’t indent paragraphs, but skip a line between them to allow time for the reader’s eyes to rest
  • Front load information utilizing the inverted pyramid to disseminate information
  • Utilize headings, lists and bullet points
  •  Use active verbs and specific nouns
  •  Write tight 

These tips will make your online presence much stronger, making it easier for your readers to find you. 


  1. Thanks, Edie, for that good information. I do part of those things and it is easier for me to read.

  2. I agree with you. I do not like reading long posts, because I don't usually have the extra time to do that. Some people write everything in one long paragraph without any separation at all. Unless I am very interested in what they are saying, I usually skip these posts.