www.whyville.net Sep 26, 2004 Weekly Issue

How to Write for the Times

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Want to get your own news articles and stories and poetry published in the Whyville Times, but don't know how to get started? You've come to the right place.

This isn't a writing tutorial, or a place to find story topics; you can find plenty of help in the Times archives. What you'll find here is the right way to submit your articles to the Times Editor!

Didn't know there was a "right" way? :-)

Well, for starters, as anyone with an email address knows, there's a lot of spam and viruses out there! To keep your articles from disappearing into the Editor's spam filter, you've got to be sure to put the right subject line on your email.

How does this work? Well, as I wrote in So You Want to Write for the Times?, you need to format your subject line like so: [type of submission]: [author], [title]. Don't include the brackets, but you do need to give an original title (hopefully something exciting!) and your Whyville username. It helps a lot if you also put down the type of article you're submitting -- whether it's a poem, a fictional story, a news story (that's the first thing I look for!) or whatever. Read my article for more explanation.

But, you say, I already knew that! What's new?

Put the title of your story on the first line of your email. Then put your username (capitalized) and a line that describes your story for your readers, just like what you see on the front page of the Times. That means your email will look like this:

    Title of my wonderful article!
    Times Editor says something witty!

    Here's the start of my article, blah blah blah....

Of course none of this needs to be in italics. ;-) But remember, the NUMBER ONE thing you have to have in your submission is your Whyville username! I can't guess it based on your email or anything, so don't forget it -- and if you follow this format, you can't!

I might not use your description, but you 're probably often more creative than I am sometimes. You're probably tired of seeing "So-and-so reports", huh? If you're sending in a poem, the "description" is simply "by author", where author is your Whyville username.

Now, keep in mind that ANY emails that come to the Times with a blank subject line or one that reads "Hi", "Hello", "Help", "Important" or "Document" will be deleted without being read. Too many viruses come like that nowadays for us to give an inch on this. Makes sense, right? We've got to try to keep viruses from wiping out the whole Whyville Times submission archives! It's happened before... :(

What about pictures? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE submit your pics as .jpg or .gif only! All other formats require a ton of work on my part -- which means somebody else probably sent in a picture just as good as yours, only in the right format. Also, keep your image sizes down -- try using the crop tools to get rid of extra space. And you don't always need to save the images at the highest resolution settings. I'm supposed to keep image sizes down to about 50K, which is very tough!

Finally, most folks have figured this one out, but just in case: Interviews should be formatted like this...

Editor: Hi Bigfoot, why do people call you Bigfoot?
Bigfoot: Because I wear big shoes!
Editor: Really???
Bigfoot: No, no, actually I'm just a big globetrotter -- I travel so much, folks got this feeling that I must have huge feet to be able to get around so far so fast! Ha!

"Formatting" is the way the words are done in bold and italics. Hope that makes sense!

Okay, one more finally -- ALWAYS spell-check your stories, and do your best to catch the sneaky mistakes like mixing up "their" and "they're", "your" and "you're" and so on. The better you spell, the better impression your article will have on your first reader -- me!

Keep it simple,
Times Editor

p.s. All Whyville citizens are welcome to write for the Times. We can't promise that anyone will be published right away -- as of summer 2004 we've been getting 500-600 emails a week, many more fabulous pieces than we can publish! -- but we will read what anyone sends and give it full consideration, as long as they follow the very simple rules above.

Once you've published 3 or 4 articles in the Times and become a "regular", you'll have a chance at being named a Times Writer in your later articles. Sometimes it can take a lot of articles -- it's not about the number, it's about the quality and variety of what you write.


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