Hello Whyvillians! This article launches the start of a new mini series "Top Tips for Times Writers". Anyone can write an article and many people do but I want everyone to be writing amazing articles. Over the next 3 weeks, I'll be publishing 3 articles to help you develop your Times career. The first week I'll be showing you how to go from a Guest Writer to a Times Writer. The second week I'll be showing you how to go from a plain ordinary Times Writer to a Times legend. Lastly, I'll be telling you about the tips and tricks of Times Writing and things relating to different genres and maybe even talking to a few of yours and my favorite Times Writers.
So, who am I? I've been writing articles since June 2004 - around 46 but I can't really be quite sure as the search is broken. I also helped launch the Whyville Times Awards which is being voted on at this very moment. Ever since the start of my writing career, my Why-Idol has been Giggler01 who I've always admired for her articles of but I also love the writing of BabyPowdr and Armada and I'm sure I'll make several references to them all throughout the series.
So let's begin.
From Guest Writer to Times Writer
A lot of you will be reading this having never written an article before and that's great. It means I have a fresh slate to work with. However, there will be quite a few of you who want to upgrade your position in the Times. And you don't just want the title . . . you want the congratulatory y-mails, the Whyville Times Breakthrough Article of the Year award. You want people to click on your articles simply because they're written by you. It's very simple to accomplish this; all you need to do is work for it.
Now, the amount of detail and the general quality of first articles has increased over the years. This is mainly because the general age of Whyvillian writers has increased. For example, when I started writing articles I was 12 and between then and now I have matured incredibly and so have a lot of other Times Writers. Don't believe me? Check out my first article "Doubtful about Dating" (Article ID: 4145). Dreadful, don't you think? Anyway, with the increasing age of Times Writers, people get a lot more critical and a lot more picky about articles as they expect more. My article would not last a day in the BBS 2008. So, unfortunately and it's a sad fact, everyone has to write better articles in general.
The first tip I'd give to people is to not submit an article until they're ready. You can learn so much from just reading the Times each week. Don't just look at each article and disregard it. Actually read the articles; while doing so thinking about what makes the article good and why you like the article. Also, read the BBS's on occasion. This can help you see what sort of articles people like and what people don't. As well as this, posting on the BBS's can help you build your influence with the people who will become your harshest critics and if they already think well of you, it helps. We'll deal with the proper way to deal with the BBS later in the article but having an idea of what goes into the Times and what people think will always help you.
So, you feel you're ready to submit an article? Now, I will never sit down and think "What can I write as an article?" because I feel that the best articles are the ones where you suddenly think "Oh . . . my gosh, wouldn't it be a great idea to write an article about," (for example) "lettuce". Once you have this divine inspiration, I suggest you read the article New Submission Rules (Article ID 4166) and follow the rules to the T to make sure that the Editor won't just send your article to her Trash Email folder. I'm not going to tell you how to write your article because you know what articles look like because you've just been looking at the Times. However, I'd suggest spending at the very least half an hour on the article. You don't have to do it all in one go. Work hard on it. An article done lazily will never be appreciated. When you've finished, read through your article again at least twice. Then when you've finally got it to a point where you'd be proud to submit it to the Times, press the almighty "Send" button.
One of my major pet peeves is when people go "OH NOEZZZZ, I'VE SUBMITTED MY ARTICLE AND IT DIDN'T COME OUT IN THE NEXT ISSUE EVEN THOUGH I SUBMITTED IT A GAZILLION TIMES. THE EDITOR MUST BE BAAAD." First, I bet it's very frustrating for the Times Editor if you submit the same article more than once. Secondly, not all articles come out in the next issue, especially if they're submitted near the end of the Times week (starting Wednesday, ending Tuesday). I had an article which took 4 months to be published. If all else fails, you might just have to accept that the article was not good enough or didn't have a suitable enough topic to be accepted It doesn't mean that the Editor is bad or doesn?t know good articles even if you think it was the most perfect article ever. In my three and a half years writing, I have submitted just under 150 articles to the Times and only a third of them were accepted and looking back on them I realize that some of them were just too bad to be published.
When your article first comes out it might just possibly be one of the greatest feelings ever. I suggest checking the Whyville Times periodically from 12:00 Whytime on a Wednesday onwards. That's what I used to do :-).
At this stage, one of the biggest problems you will probably face is negative attention in the BBS. Some people just act plain mean and that's not your fault whatsoever. A lot may hide behind the guise of "constructive criticism" but really they're just moaning. Not saying that everyone does that, some people are trying to help, but some people do. The best way to combat this is to take a deep breath, be completely humble and answer calmly in full English. If you feel it's necessary, y-mail the BBS commenters concerned. This stops comments turning into a whole big scene. If you turn the BBS into a scene it can absolutely destroy your Times career before you've even started it. However, one bad article doesn't ruin your career. Take everyone's advice (unless it's like "Stop writing, you suck"), think about it and then work it into your next article.
Once you've got your article out of the way, start on your second article. I suggest that new writers dabble in all sort of different genres to try and find out what they're best at writing. Also, this shows the Editor that you can write about a lot of different things. However, I'd make sure you didn't adventure into something you're not familiar at all with. For example, don't talk about politics if you're not interested in it or if you don't know anything it is about.
And my final tips . . .
* If you've got a friend who writes for the Times . . . do a collaboration. They're fun!
* Going into controversial subjects are fun. If you have an opinion, tell everyone!
* Write your articles on a word-processing program first. This means you can save it and spell-check it.
* Don't become an article factory . . . it's not necessary to submit thousands of articles a week. One really good article a week is an amazing achievement.
Good luck with your writing! Don't worry, you'll be a Times Writer before you know it,
This is Cobd . . .