February 13, 2001
How To Write Your Own *FootNotes* Entry!

[in one easy lesson]

Snappy one-line opener goes here!

Examples: "When the phone rings at 1 a.m., it can't be good news" ... "If I'd known he was laying in my driveway, I probably wouldn't have backed the Subaru over him" ... "Is three-days overdue technically considered 'late?' "

Equally-snappy follow-up paragraph here. Short sentences. Lots of short sentences. Lots and LOTS of short sentences. One short sentence right after another. See how short my sentences are? But pay attention: the sentences are about to get a little bit longer now. Slowly but surely, the sentences are going to gradually increase in length. They're going to increase in detail, too, and in wordiness, and I'm going to get a sort of singsongy 'rhythm' thing going here ... and I'm going to start using the word "and" a little more than is strictly grammatical, probably ... and finally I'm going to end this paragraph with ...

... dots.

(Followed by a parenthetical comment.)

And then one more short snappy sentence, just for fun. over here is the groovy-but-gratuitous graphic that may or may not have anything to do with the topic

Meanwhile, off to the right of the page somewhere is a groovy graphic ... either hand-drawn by you, the author (and then ineptly scanned so that the .jpg file is about the size of your average operating system and takes four and a half days to upload) ... or else lifted, royalty-free, from ArtToday and cleverly colorized in *FootNotes* colors blue/green, light gray, dark gray so that it looks like you drew it. Note: The graphic may or may not actually have anything at all to do with the day's journal topic. But that's irrelevant. Graphics are decorative, and they take up important white space and help pull the page together, and readers seem to like them a lot. Plus, an interesting graphic can draw attention away from a subpar journal entry, once in a while.

(Another parenthetical comment here.)

A couple more paragraphs' worth of narrative go here. Note: It's important to rotate your journal topics! Limit yourself to one journal entry per week about alcohol recovery, for example ... one entry per week about your incredibly perfect fiance/your fabulous engagement ring/your upcoming wedding ... one entry per week about the Totem Pole Company ... one entry per week about the Tots ... ad nauseum. Obvious exceptions to the rule: 1.) when you're threatening to quit your job again, 2.) when you're lobbying shamelessly for that *surprise* marriage proposal, 3.) when the Tots are in town and you've been pointing the Polaroid at them again, or 4.) when there absolutely isn't anything else to write about, short of PMS or meatloaf.

By the way, at this point it's OK to use the gimmicky *asterisk*-as-emphasis thing, as long as it isn't overdone. (*Try* not to *use* it *enough* to be *irritating,* in other words.)

Likewise, it's OK to begin inserting the occasional key FootNotes words: stoopid, fudking, groovy, bazillion, molecules ...

... or phrases: "That's another story for another day" ... "Offset Barrier Type-Y Crossings With Signalized Crosswalk Indicators" ... "forcryingoutloud" ...

... or to mention pivotal *FootNotes* characters: Cranky Denver Lady, Matt Lauer, Franz, Upstairs Neighbor Guy, The Other 50% of the Population, The Human Resources Director Person, EdmundKaz, Colonel Sanders ...

... but again, only as long as none of this stuff is overdone. One "fudk" or "forcryingoutloud" or Car Alarm Guy reference per entry is plenty. The story is what's important here. The story is what counts. It's all about the story.

The story, the story, the story.

Of course, when you're sick to death of focusing on the story -- or when the story is beginning to sag a little bit in the middle -- here are some other interesting writing techniques you might want to try, to jazz things up. (Those of us here in the 'Internet journaling community' <-- meta-reference  refer to this technique as "stunt-writing." There's teeny tiny text, for instance ... ENORMOUS TEXT ... BOLD and Italic text ... runningwordstogetherforcomiceffect ... sdrawkcab gnitirW ... COLORED TEXT ... itingwray inay igPay atinLay ... randomly adding links to previous FootNotes entries to hook the new readers ... deliberately mispelling words ... casually mentioning the Notify List every once in a while, in a transparent ploy to jack up membership ...

... or Secra could suddenly, inexplicably begin to write about herself in the pretentious third-person again, for no reason, until her readers stop reading her journal altogether! ...

... but the key is to not overdo the stunt-writing. It dilutes the narrative. It weakens the credibility of the writer. And it opens the door to all kinds of other bad journaling practices ... like animated .gifs. Or like name-dropping. (Hiya, Bev!) Or like gratuitous product endorsement.

Or like flashbacks ... flashbacks ... flashbacks ...

Segue now into pointless gray *Flashback Paragraph* ...

Good Topics for *Flashback Paragraphs*:
Hangovers, big boxes of Mountain Chablis, and anything recovery-related -- especially if vomit is involved; dysfunctional high school/college/online romances; birthing the Tots, and assorted sweet moments from the Tots' collective childhood; your grandmother's raspberry jam; your first wedding, twenty years ago (as long as you don't veer into Former-Spouse-Bashing); Top Forty radio circa 1965-1995; the Baby Boomer Chat Room; The Tree House; The Knife Factory; puberty.

Somewhat-Overdone Topics for *Flashback Paragraphs:* Losing your virginity under a tree; Miss Fire Prevention; incontinence; talking birds; throwing up into your purse at the Led Zeppelin concert; oven mitt fires; your first weekend in California with David; The King County Library System; accidentally melting the Happy Panda Toaster; puberty.

Totally-Off-Limit Topics for *Flashback Paragraphs:* Pittsburgh; menstrual clots.

Now that we've spent several paragraphs establishing topic, creating narrative structure, inserting the requisite slow-loading graphic, and adding the marginally-relevant flashback sequence, it's time to move on to ...


Here is some of the stuff we love about bullet points:

  • They're fun!
  • They're easy!
  • They look great!
  • They make you look like an HTML genius with almost zero effort!
  • They take up lots and lots of pesky white space, down here at the bottom of the page, so that your journal entry looks LONGER (and more organized) than it actually IS!
  • Everybody loves lists! (And those who don't are reading the wrong website!)
  • They allow you to throw all sorts of random thoughts at your audience!
  • [including the occasional sublimal message to sign the Fast Lane Tea Petition again]
  • In fact, once you get started with bullets ...
  • ... it's tough to stop!
  • Sorta like eating Peanut M&M's!
  • (Or KFC Honey BBQ Wings!)  <--- Note: second reference to Colonel Sanders
  • The next thing you know, the bullets have completely taken over the journal entry!
  • Suddenly ... you're using bullets to convey all sorts of personal messages that have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH THE STORYLINE!
  • For instance ...
  • ... Happy Birthday Bottlenekk, one day late!
  • Seeya next week, Mom!
  • Congratulations on the promotion, Mr. Caves!
  • Yo! Mizzle! I misspelled "mispelled," forcryingoutloud! Where the hell ARE you?
  • I'm still looking for a new home for *FootNotes*!!!  I'm serious!! I hate my fudking ISP!!! Somebody help me!!! Acckk!!!!
  • I was JUST KIDDING about hiding David's Pert Shampoo!
  • I was JUST KIDDING about being three days late!
  • I was JUST KIDDING about the wedding-cake-in-the-face! Lighten up, people!
  • If you want a wedding invitation, send me your snail-mail address!
  • If you want me to answer your e-mail, send me a new computer!
  • (Or else send your e-mail to SecraTerri until I get things fixed.)
  • Etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. ... on and on and on ... ad infiniticulitum! <--- Note: cutely-stoopid made-up word
  • The bullets go on and on in this aimless, meandering, slapdash fashion, until all of a sudden you remember that you need ...
  • ... a snappy closing for your journal entry!
  • (Uh-oh.)
  • This may be a *problem,* because although you're great at coming up with snappy openings ...
  • ... closings are not your strong suit.
  • (In fact, there have been times when you've discarded entire journal entries -- some of them potential Diarist Award winners, probably! <-- Note: manipulative link to nominees page -- simply because you were unable to come up with a suitably groovy closing line.)
  • So you do what you always do when you find yourself in this situation:
  • You go with the same tired, lame, over-used, fall-back closing you always use when you can't think of anything more creative.

"Stay tuned."

but hey!
you're not done yet!
NOW you get to provide the trendy link back to an old *FootNotes* entry!
[allowing you to show off how long you've had your journal!]
one year ago: a totem pole anniversary
seventeen years ago: early girls <--- wow!

plus you can toss one of these onto the bottom of the page:
[you're welcome, Eva]

before i have to kill somebody ...
help bring back Fast Lane Tea!
[tell 'em SECRA sent you]

and then there's this stuff ...
[which -- trust me -- NOBODY ever looks at until the day you accidentally forget to include it]:
throw a rock