Today’s post should be especially interesting to bloggers who begin their blog posts in Word (or another editor) and to some of my favorite bloggers – poets.
One of the complaints I hear most often about the Block Editor is that it’s hard to get the text to look the way you want it to look. Not only do I hear this complaint, I’ve uttered it many times, particularly on Friday afternoons. My typical Saturday post is a stream of consciousness block (no pun intended) of tagless dialog between friends at a bar. I write those posts, as I do all my blog posts, in Word. When I copy and paste my dialog into WordPress, I end up with 35 – 65 blocks! What’s a boy to do?
What if I told you that you could write a post in Word, format it kinda-sorta the way you like, copy and paste it into the Block Editor and have it look like what you wrote? Introducing the Preformatted Block.
Note: for the sake of clarity, everything shown in the blue area below was written in Word, copied and pasted into a single Preformatted Block – I swear. What you see below is what I wrote in Word.
Let’s consider, for the sake of argument, that my story is about a mother back in the days of the Black Plague. She’s worried and frazzled. For months, she’s been stuck in the farmhouse while her husband tends the fields, flocks and herds. Her two children, Jack and Jill are involved in remote learning and driving her crazy with question after question. Today, they are begging her to bake more cookies so they can practice their math problems (Jack has five cookies and gives Jill two, and like that). To get fifteen minutes of peace, she tells them to go fetch her a pail of water. “Jill, did you ever wonder why the men in the town put the well at the top of a hill?” “At the moment, Jack, I’m wondering why you’re wearing that silly crown.” “I only mean that it would be so much easier to walk into the center of the village and get a pail of water. Plus, putting it on the hill meant that they had to dig deeper to find water.” “Put the well in the village center? Jack, if you weren't my brother, I'd think you were daft. At the bottom? Where all the activity is? Where men spit and dogs and horses pee? The water is safer here. It’s filtered by much more sand.” Now I know Jack wasn’t really wearing a crown…or was he? One interpretation casts Jack as Louis XVI of France, making Jill, the infamous Marie Antoinette. In any case, Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill (or perhaps just her head) came tumbling after.
You see, a preformatted block accepts and preserves the formatting of the text that is pasted into it. Note: you can’t rely on Word Styles to format the text, you need to go into “typewriter” mode. Also, you can still make minor format adjustments once the text is in WordPress but you do not have the full range of tools available.
In a similar vein, the Verse Block is designed to let poets control line and character spacing in a way that is necessary to complement their well-chosen words. First, let’s look at the Verse Block showing one of my favorite Grooks.
The road to wisdom? — Well, it’s plain and simple to express: Err and err and err again but less and less and less. Piet Hein (1905 – 1996)
Now, lets have some block fun. I’m going to insert a column block and add two columns. I’m going to set each column to hold a Verse Block. I’m going to feature two of my favorites, friends from a writing group I have belonged to for a while. I think you know them.
Headspace Between the Eyes H eadache E veryone knows its name A ngry space between the eyes D ecisive dull drumming S wallowing relief in red pill P acing, waiting A che abating…perhaps C linging with adhesive hold E xcedrin, need more Mary J Melange – 2020
Symphony in N Major The Rain Falling In torrents All around me Its harmony with The voice of Nature Such a symphony of Grandeur and flow I sing as I walk on As the bird song Trills and thrills Heaven spills Tears of joy Until sun Smiles Cheryl Pennington - 2021
Again, the blocks in use here are:
- A Paragraph block at the top
- A Preformatted block for our story
- A Verse block for the grook
- A Paragraph block for the next two paragraphs
- A Column block holding two more Verse blocks for the poems
- Two Paragraph blocks to hold the text intro and this list.
These special blocks are not as powerful as Word, or as a Paragraph block for that matter, and they will not accept every format technique you can create in Word. But, they are much easier to work with than the default text block when you want/need to control line spacing.
There are many types of blocks available in the Block Editor. Personally, I think they all need a lot of development work. That said, I encourage you to experiment with them as I have.