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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 22nd day of Collecting, Yr 19
The Neopian Times Week 109 > Articles > Gone by the Stroke of a Pen...

Gone by the Stroke of a Pen...

by belldandy213

DEEP CATACOMBS - Have you ever wondered why your article for The Neopian Times never quite made it? Have you felt something like: "What are they playing at? I worked HARD on this!" I myself am a frequent failure, but because of this I am able to bring together a helpful guide to what REALLY goes into the judging of an article that you only find out if you're a failure!

Many of you may say, "Those are just some nonsense words that are put onto a Neopian staff message to make them sound important!" But are they really? I've decided to analyze two different short stories from The Neopian Times and one non-fiction article to find out if those are just words of if they are REALLY what the editors are looking for.

First off, we shall inquire about length:

There is a minimum amount of words required to be considered for publication. Shoot for around 1,000 words or more. There is no maximum limit.

I examined beau_lis's article, Neoschool Blues, and found it had 1993 words! Definitely a good sign! Now let's see drhull's story, Heart of Gold...1504 words! Beginning to see a pattern, now are we? I wager that if we'd look into more articles we'd begin to see that many of them have 1000 or more words. For all of you who haven't made the cut, that may be why...

Of course, the contents of an article are probably the most important. Many of us readers are looking for depth and gusto! We want to feel the story. If your story doesn't have pizzazz or flavor nobody will want to read it. So keep the following requirement in mind while writing:

Make sure your story is interesting. Is it something you would want to read? If not, then other players probably won't find it very interesting either. TIP: It really helps to describe the setting and environment throughout your story so the reader doesn't get confused.

Obviously a Neopian Times article needs that quality. Using descriptive verbs, adverbs, and adjectives authors create the excitement and beauty that many readers are really looking for. Let us see how our examples show this:

'Continuing her viewing, she focused her attention on the playground. There were many pets of various species and colors, roaming around there. She could hear the laughter and squeals of delight as the pets engaged themselves in different forms of play.' -Neoschool Blues written by beau_lis.

This is an excellent example of good uses of verbs. For example, instead of using non-descriptive verbs to jot down her thoughts, such as, perhaps, "looking", she used the verb "viewing". It shows that Snowflake (the main character in that particular story) wasn't just looking out at the playground; she was "studying" the various activities that the different pets were performing. Perhaps the word engaging is another example. Engage is defined as: "to involve one's self or become occupied or participate". Instead of saying a less enjoyable verb, she went ahead and used one that is less commonly used in the English language but is generally more descriptive.

Here's another example:

'Long ago, when humans were just setting foot in Neopia (and before then), bands of Unis roamed wild across the Endless Plains outside of the town that would soon be the true heart of the land, Neopia Central. They owned themselves, listening to naught but the lead stallions or mares of their herd. Sure, they didn't have fancy food or Neocola, but it was the life they liked and knew. Humans changed that, and that is the story I am about to tell you. I have done years of research, and with the help of my pet AlannaDarknight and the memories she holds of her past and her people. This is Alanna's story, the story of her kind, the gallant and majestic Unis.' Heart of Gold written by drhull.

After reading this paragraph, all I can say is: wow. This paragraph has excellent use of adjectives, and is one example that I personally think is outstanding! One adjective I'd like to point out is "gallant". The word gallant in this context can often be defined as: "unflinching in battle or action, valiant" or "nobly or selflessly resolute". This adjective is one that is definitely one for the "outstanding" list. Also, the adjective "majestic" is one to point out. This can be defined as: "having or showing lofty dignity or nobility, stately". There's nothing wrong with that one! Unis are very good at being like that!

Short Stories - Make them fun and entertaining. Have a look at some Neopedia entries, trading cards, game characters, Battledome characters, your very own pets, etc. to get some ideas.

Hmm... now what do you think? Let's look at our two short story examples:

'I was a little foal when I first saw a human. The girl had had a thin frame, short and petite, with crystal blue eyes full of depth and wonder. Her bronze hair was floating in the spring breeze, her boots covered with wet morning dew. I had liked her, wanted to go out to her, greet her.' Heart of Gold written by drhull.

Oh... that's a very nice use of adjectives!!! Doesn't that make you want to read on? If so, by all means, do! When you're done, you should continue to read the rest of this article. You'll understand why I chose her article as one example in the first place!

This is our second example:

' With that, he ushered her around the shop, picking out items Snowflake would need in Neoschool Snowflake had to admit that it was kind of fun getting new things, even if it was for Neoschool She got things to write, color, draw and erase with as well as holders for them. She also got a calculator, scissors, stencils, ruler and everything she could ever need in Neoschool Plus she got her very own lunch box and she received her most favorite item of all! It was an Angelpuss backpack! There were lots of backpacks to choose from, but Professor Techo brought this backpack out from behind the counter. He told Snowflake that it was hard to keep them in stock because they were so new and so rare. But if she would like, she may have the Angelpuss back pack.' Neoschool Blues written by beau_lis.

One thing I'd like point out is the word "Neoschool". Neoschool is a newly made feature on Neopets that is not quite finished, yet. It's a fresh, new idea for many Neopians to ponder over, especially those dear Neopian Times authors. Honestly, many of us would love to read more about it, and so this story is a fun one to read in that respect. Remember, if you tell a joke one too many times, then the joke won't be funny anymore!

Now for those of you (such as me) who prefer to write non-fiction articles!

4. Articles (non-fiction) - Is there something new going on in Neopia? New game, world and/or item(s)? Something weird going on? Think you have some tips that would benefit other Neopians? You have a better chance of getting your article published if you are writing about a new interesting topic. Try to stay away from common topics that have been entered many times in the past.

Many of you may be thinking: Well, duh. They are serious about this one. In fact, I'm not even sure that this article will be published, because ones slightly similar to the one I'm writing this second have been published, but then again. They were pretty different over all. The point is, you need a good topic for non-fiction articles. Let's see our example:

'In total, the 'average' Neopian will have 1.491 pets. But is that right? I decided to pick 20 people randomly from the general chat board and ask them a series of 7 questions to try and figure out what is the 'average Neopian.' The Average Neopian written by stormydreamer.

That topic was an outstanding one to choose, and it's one that would surely attract interest. Many of you may be saying, "Why didn't I think of that?" but those ideas kind of just... come to you, right? In fact, generally speaking, only 1 of 100 ideas for The Neopian Times is a good one. You just have to snoop around for the newest news around, that's all. And remember, when related to The Neopian Times, no news is good news!

Now many of you are saying "wow" while staring at the computer screen, hoping that some sort of idea will turn up. Okay. What do you think? Is there a benefit to getting a "failure" letter? Of course! So next time if you get one of those, don't think of it as a rejection letter, think of it as a new opportunity to try again! And remember, your chances will not be drawn to a close by the stroke of a pen...

The end...

***

Author's note: All examples were used with the authors' permission. Big thanks to drhull, beau_lis, and stormydreamer for letting me use their articles as examples! Thanks! :) I also hope that this article benefited all of you! Neomail me for anything else related to this article.

Week 109 Related Links

Pinching Pennies… err, I mean Neopoints
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