I don’t know if you’ve read much from Kurt Vonnegut, the American novelist who wrote works blending satire, black comedy, and science fiction, such as Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), Cat’s Cradle (1963), and Breakfast of Champions (1973).

But I’ve been reading Bagombo Snuff Box, a book of “uncollected short fiction”. It’s fascinating. And although it’s a work of fiction, Vonnegut’s writing holds many keys to excellent non-fiction writing – especially keys to style and structure that engage readers.

Engagement  is missing from many of the articles and blog posts you read on the web.

The reason is obvious. Most content gets published without having to pass muster with professional editors.

It simply falls from the mind of the writer to a tool like wordpress or typepad and, in a flash, it hits the web.

Of course, that’s one of the attractions of the web. It makes getting published easy.

But there’s still an argument for good prose. The riveting articles and stories that grasp your reader’s attention and holds it all the way from title to tail like Kurt’s does.

Studying the words of authors like Kurt Vonnegut will help you write that way too.

Ubiquitous is as word I keep coming across. One of the writers at the New York Times uses it so frequently it astonishes me.

Actually, I didn’t know what the word meant until today. My mother would be disappointed, she scolded me if I didn’t look a word up in the dictionary that I didn’t understand as soon I came across it.

I didn’t do this with the word ubiquitous. Instead I just figured it’s probably a big word that could easily be replaced with a better (read: shorter) one that actually builds a picture in the mind’s eye my brain can latch onto. Turns out I was right.

Anyway, after coming across the word here (at a mighty fine blog, I must say) for the 6th time in half as many days (that’s 6 times in 3 days for those of you who don’t like doing the math) I decided I should probably look the word up in the dictionary.

I looked here, and found the word means “widespread”. How funny, I thought.  I’ve been seeing this word everywhere, that’s how ubiquitous it is! And the word itself means widespread! Hahaha! I chuckled to myself.

So now I know the definition. But It’s not a word I’ll use myself. A) it’s too commonly used and B) it’s too easily misunderstood. Besides, as I said before, it doesn’t create a picture in the readers gray cells.  So, as widespread and widely used as it may appear, it’s not a word for me.

google_duplicate_content_mythHas Google struck again? Is the duplicate content myth alive and well?

This blog used to be the home of my simple web writing blog but I moved the content to a new site on a hosted domain. I did this because I wanted a hosted domain. I wish I had’ve hosted earlier. The reason is that my new site, although live for a week now, does not yet show in Google search engines.

Now, you might say 1 week isn’t long. But the fact is, this site was showing in the Google search engines within 2 days of going live.

Would my hosted site have gone live just as quick if it wasn’t initiated with duplicate content from this site?

I honestly don’t know.

All I know is, this site ranked quickly — in the first week — while my new fully hosted site doesn’t show unless I type the URL directly into the search box.

But if I take a selection of an article I exported to the new blog and copy that into the google search bar, this site shows up and not the new site, even though the article is no longer active on this site.

I assume it’s got something to do with indexing the source of the first sighting of the document first. It makes sense to do it that way as it’s more likely the first sighting is the original source.

Whatever. Just an interesting piece of trivia. It doesn’t really matter to me since I’m going to be posting a ton of new content on the hosted site anyway so I’m sure I’ll get indexed soon enough.

And since all the content will be unique, I won’t have to worry about whether duplicate content penalties from google are a myth or not.