Rising Stars #2: @FangBo

Rising Stars #2: @FangBo

Apr 16, 2018, 9:23 PM |

    Welcome back, comment section! When I say this is your series, I really and truly mean it: for just one series, my platform is your platform. With just one comment, you can get your blog or one of your friends' blogs reviewed on the front page.

    But as vibrant as you are underneath my blog, you don't seem very excited. Don't get me wrong. It was nice to see @kamalakanta comment at 1 in the morning and tell me practically his whole life story. It was even nicer to learn of the close friendship between him and @simaginfan. I just wish there had been more than one recommendation, let alone one recommending a blogger I already know.

    So please, if you're reading this, suggest any and all bloggers you feel deserve more love. Leave all the hard work to me.

    Today's talent? He's that suggestion @EOGuel gave last time.


    I've known @FangBo for a while. Or more accurately, I've done a lot on the site with him in the time I have been. We work together as admins in four different groups, among other things, and he even started the group which led me to create Blogosphere.

    If @kamalakanta is my polar opposite as a blogger, @FangBo is the opposite of that: his blog is very much here-and-now, as he annotates his own games more than those of any master, occasionally picking one from the collections of Morphy and Tal for his more instruction-oriented posts.

    Instead, @FangBo is my opposite as a player: a lover of tactics and attacking who regularly employs the Evans Gambit as White and admires the games of history's most famous attackers, and a frequent participant in OTB tournaments.

    He's also the first blogger featured in this series to have had a Top Blogger application rejected, and so this post carries different lessons. It isn't only about going above and beyond the level of your previous content: now it's also about why it fell short in the first place.

null     His second-most recent post (Cheapo Alert! Cheapo Alert!) sheds some light on the matter, with instructive moments right from the thumbnail to the outro.

    Start at the beginning. Read the first sentence: I have recently fallen for 2 very annoying cheapos, which any hustler would be proud of.

    Now stop.

    That's boring. It's the first sentence of your blog and it's boring, and understanding why is so critical that I can and will write multiple paragraphs about it, because every aspiring blogger who is reading this needs to know.

    Your first sentence is the only first sentence you get. Every single word is important. That's why the words "I have recently fallen for" have no business being the first five of your post. They have no meat on their bones. They don't have any feeling to them. They don't describe anything at all. They don't even mean anything by themselves, and they still don't until you write word eight: "annoying".

    But let's backtrack a bit to the seventh word of that sentence. There's a reason writers just don't use the word "very": it's an inane word. It sounds stupid if you say it more than once at a time. It tries to amplify the thing that comes after it, but instead defangs it, removing all of its shock value.

    By the time you get to "which any hustler would be proud of" with its nice ring, the sentence is already dead.

null    I don't say this to denigrate your content. If a boring first sentence is the most of your problems, you're a good blogger. I only say it because your first sentence is important, and you need to treat it right, as you should every single idea you write down.

    That means putting each idea in the right place. That means giving it some support. That means developing it.

    If you do all three of these, the idea will reach its full potential. If you don't do one or more of them, then you and I will know exactly what you can do better.


   But there are times when you don't do these things, and that's when the flow of the post is interrupted and we see the lessons of this post in full view. It's time to look at how not to take care of your ideas, and how that manifests at certain points in your post. There are three main culprits.

  • Misplaced ideas. You don't put guacamole in a chocolate cake. It's the same with writing: no matter how nice an idea is, if you put it in the wrong place it won't be everything it could be.

    Your game descriptions were good, but in just the second paragraph of the post, they were ages away from the actual games, and the puzzle to get your readers' brains thinking, although it was close to the games themselves, wasn't very relevant to the content of the following games. A puzzle from the position after 8. c3?? or 12. Nf3 in the second game would be more on point.

  • Unsupported ideas. If you see an isolated pillar, you won't think anything of it. If you see a temple, you will instantly know it's important, even if you don't know why. A blog post is not a collection of isolated ideas or lines. A blog post, just as every other piece of writing, is a coherent work. Every single thing you say and do must be connected, and must work towards the same purpose. If you don't build temples with your ideas, no one will think anything of them.

    That's why when you started asking big, important questions about whether people actually enjoy winning through silly tricks and when alarm bells should be ringing, you gave all of the power of those questions away: they came way too soon. They were the first thing you brought up in the post instead of the culmination of a number of other things. Like a band would build up to the big moment in their piece, you need to support and build up to your ideas so that those big questions are the highlight of your post.

  • Undeveloped ideas. In the words of @UAArtur under one of @IndreRe's blog posts, undeveloped pieces cannot attack. It's the same with undeveloped ideas: you can have the punchiest and most important and profound first line in the world, but if you don't develop the idea further, it all goes to waste.

    After you asked the first "big question" (Do people actually gain some pleasure out of winning by silly tricks?) you introduced not one, but two new ideas, briefly mentioning people who play too much bullet and people who don't care about how they win. Then you moved on to the next thing, cutting off those two ideas before they really got going.

    You did the same thing in your third and final "big question", where you gave a simple list of seven situations where alarm bells should be ringing - except that all they were was items on a list. Nothing further was said about what constitutes a "messy tactical position", and no mention was made of how you relate to any of these.

    But the most egregious point where this happened was in the final paragraph of your post. You have a good thing going with the "it is never too late to lose a game of chess" idea, and then you start talking about typical times where tactical tricks happen and the time control of the games and all that, when you would have been better off just ending with the remark that "until you shake your opponent's hand, you could lose".

    Throughout the post, this stands out: you had too many different ideas to fit into the post, and, frankly, you would have been better off cutting some of those extra ideas so the main ones could have room to grow.  One deep idea is always better than two shallow ones.


    And lastly, the thumbnail - a somewhat scrappy home photo of a store front with a T drawn on the upper-right corner. There are far worse thumbnails, of course, but if you want to be a Top Blogger, this doesn't suffice: it just doesn't meet the requirements, and that brings me to the final point I'll make in this post.

    Everything in this post is important. But not everything in this post is absolutely necessary. In this series, I write from the perspective of a relatively skilled writer: that's why so much of this post and the first installment was higher-level feedback which goes beyond just the baseline requirements for being a Top Blogger and aims to get experienced bloggers to push themselves to produce the best possible writing.

    Everything before this is still important, but it's not the difference between me getting my Top Blogger status on the first try and @FangBo still waiting for his. My longtime followers will know why: before I got my status, I replaced all my thumbnails with the required 630x354 images, I formatted all of my posts to have two introductory paragraphs, and I cleared up a few analytical and spelling mistakes.

    If @FangBo wants to get Top Blogger, that should be enough. If he wants to and if any of the aspiring bloggers here wants to really push their content and bring everything up a notch, that's where the rest of the article comes in.

    P.S. Want to get close to all of the latest blogging action and work with 39 bloggers and 7 Top Bloggers? Blogosphere is your group! In addition to team matches and vote chess, we maintain several unique features you won't find anywhere else, all to provide the best possible space for bloggers and blog fans to make cool things happen together.