How Writers Can Use Images and Video to Better Their Work and Connect with Their Audiences


There is something so intimate about video, the way it encapsulates so many parts of you and conveys a clearer picture of who you are and what you represent.


I used to do videos on my blog all the time and I miss them. Whether a review, quick tidbit of information or full conversation with my audience, I found my readers connected with me in a much more intimate way through video than simply with words and photographs.




Things happened – cancer, deaths, moving – and I quit doing videos, but attending BlogHer Viewfinder day inspired me to get back into filming. Additionally, it made me want to share everything I learned with my readers, hoping you all go out and use videos to tell your stories as well.


“Your eyes are your lens, your heart your best shutter.” – Diane Cu and Todd Porter,


Tips for taking great photographs/making great films from Diane Cu and Todd Porter of


• Always remember the story you want to tell.

The most important thing in all forms of storytelling is remembering your goal, what you’re looking to convey.


• Sometimes the thing you want to show needs to come second to story you want to tell.

For example, the couple wanted to showcase their summer garden and all the vegetables they’d grown that year, however, they didn’t want to just go around shooting still vegetation. So, they decided to feature the garden from the perspective of their dog, having him run and jump after bubbles throughout the garden. We saw the whole garden, but the story we left with was a whimsical one of a playing puppy.


• Start small, master the 15 second Instagram video before you go on to the 15 minute short and the 15 minutes short before you go on to the 1.5 hour film.

Go for short and meaningful over long and drawn out. They also suggested trying to iMovie app for your phone and Animoto where you can upload photos and make a stop action film.


• Say a lot of “no” so your “yes” has a larger impact.

Know your strengths and your weaknesses and work within them, both as a person and as a photographer/videographer. Don’t be afraid to say “I’m not good at that, but I’m good at this.”


• Your imperfections convey depth, meaning, authenticity, and soul to your unique voice.

There is a beauty in imperfections, in breaking the “rules” of life and photography. Diane took a video she hated because it was grainy and dark, but now she loves it because it is the last video of someone she loved taken before he died. She also has a series of young sisters rolling around on the carpet taken with her iPhone that are stunning in the way they capture the moment of happiness between the girls and even more stunning with you are told that the girls had just lost their father. Diane took the photos and gave them to their mother as a reminder that there is happiness.


“The most perfect things that you create are the ones that give you the most memories, which are often the ones with the most imperfections.” – Diane Cu


Right before my brother had his jaw removed, my family took photos with my fancy camera that turned out to be completely off-kilter and badly lit. I hated them for that until he died and now I treasure them like an original Ansel Adams print, something completely priceless and perfect, something that captured the haste and feeling of that evening when we all were together, waiting for something horrible to happen, none of us willing to put into words what we all were fearing. That imperfect photo captures more than words could ever start to describe.




“Balance your personality with your purpose.” – Double Saving Divas


If you’re looking to break into YouTube, a couple panels of vloggers had some great tips for you:

  • Start with a quick, 15-second, potentially silly or comedic intro to grab people’s attention, then go to your credits and/or longer content.
  • Make your clips and each cut longer than 10 seconds.
  • People want to connect and interact with you, so have a dialogue on your video.
  • YouTube is second to Google for places people search for content online, therefore using SEO (titling and explaining videos using keywords) is key to getting your content seen.
  • Remember that being heard is as important as being seen in videos.
  • Only use content, including clips and music, you have the rights to use or YouTube will take it down.Vimeo has music you can use and you can buy music through Triple Scoop, With Etiquette and PTCH.
  • Collect videos and articles from people who are similar to you, create a catalog of content and share it out, create a network and help promote it. Cross-promotion helps everyone and is key to online success.
  • Some alternatives to YouTube include Vimeo, Blip and CNN iReport.


“If you don’t know who you are, how do you expect your audience to?” – either @MissLori or @Weelicious, I can’t remember who said it but I liked it


How do you use video and images to enhance your work?

Must-Read Queer Literature

Over at, my personal blog that centers around sex, sexuality, gender and gender identity, I put together a list of queer literature must-reads, aided by my wonderfully helpful Twitter followers.

Since the two things I tell all aspiring writers to do is: 1. Write a lot, and 2. Read a lot, I thought I’d share that list here.

You can also head on over to and be a part of the conversation expanding that list. Just be warned, the site is often sexual and while I stay around the Rated-R not X, some images still may not be safe for your work.


Suggestions by @bibliobutch:

Suggestions by @TheAllisonMoon (I suggest you get her lesbian werewolf novels too!):

Suggestions by @KeAnne:

Suggestion by @JamieJHagen:

Suggestions by @bcmgsupermommy:

Suggestion from @BruCube:

Suggestion by @SuzyQuzey:

Suggestion by @nerdtaculurr:

  • Lost Souls and Drawing Blood by Poppy Z. Brite, who now goes by Billy Martin

My suggestions:

Also, Flavorwire published a post about 50 Essential Works of LGBT Fiction that has more on it, if you’ve made your way through this list. Also, they wrote an interesting piece on whether America is ready for The Great Gay Novel.

I’m kind of overwhelmed now. Can I borrow about $1000 from someone to buy new books? And about $1000 a month to get a bigger apartment to store these books?

To share your favorite queer books that I may have missed, head over to the comments section of and I’ll add them to the list.

Enter to win a FREE spot in November’s poetry class with Jenn Givhan!

This November, Jenn Givhan is teaching *Emotion that Avoids Sentimentality in Poetry* and hosting a writing competition, the grand prize of which is a FREE spot in the class!

To enter, submit your own original emotional poem that avoids sentimentality*, along with a brief paragraph about why you are interested in taking the class and/or what you hope to get out of the workshop.

In the four-week online workshop, you will learn how to craft poems that resonate with readers, and you will write four new poems on which you’ll receive feedback from Jenn and the other members of the workshop.

All contest entrants will receive a coupon for half-0ff the class price. Submit your piece now!

Please send all submissions as a PDF, Pages or Word Doc to Jenn[at]CreativitySquared[dot]com.


We look forward to reading your submissions!


*Previously published work and simultaneous submissions are allowed.

Win a Free Spot in Our Writing the Difficult Class and a Chance for Publication!

Want to take our Writing the Difficult Class but low on funds? You can win a free spot in the class!

Jenn Givhan and I, the class instructors, are hosting a writing competition and the grand prize is a free spot in our Writing the Difficult class!

Even if you don’t win, you still get $50 off the class simply for entering. Additionally, all entries are eligible (though not guaranteed a spot) for publication in the Ishaan Literary Review special Writing the Difficult addition.

The topic for the writing competition is the theme for the class: Write hard and clear about what hurts. -Ernest Hemingway.

Some things you might want to address, but aren’t required to:

  • How do you find motivation in your life for your written works?
  • What stories are in you that you need to get out?
  • What scares you the most about letting go and letting these stories out?
  • What stops you the most from writing? Time? Fear? Energy?
  • Why do you want to take this class, from us, right now?

We have no page minimums, but the limit for prose is 1000 words and for poetry is two pages if typed. Please send all submissions as a PDF, Pages or Word Doc to Lauren[at]CreativitySquared[dot]com.


We look forward to reading your submissions!

Publication Opportunity for *Writing the Difficult* Workshop Members!


Dear Writers,

Our friend J.D. Isip, editor of Ishaan Literary Review, has graciously offered to run a special online edition of the journal featuring the fabulous writing we know will emerge from the Writing the Difficult Workshop! Check out the Call for Submissions.

Issue 3.5 of Ishaan, dedicated to our class, is slated for publication in November, shortly after the workshop ends, so workshop members will have the unique opportunity to write, revise, and then *publish* a piece in two month’s time (and writers, you know how rare this is)!

Remember, space is limited, so sign up today!

Lauren and I are looking forward to seeing you in workshop! Let’s write the difficult together…

All the best to you,