Author's note: This is a follow-up article on my earlier article in week 109
called 'Gone by the Stroke of a Pen' based on questions that people asked me,
requests for more information, and things I thought everybody would like to know.
Also, I'm sorry that this article doesn't mention creating comics, I didn't have
much information about them, and so I decided not to include comics. Sorry! Also,
these are just tips! I'm most definitely not guaranteeing that your article will
be chosen. I do appreciate feedback: compliment and constructive criticism!
DEEP CATACOMBS - So, you want to write a Neopian Times article? Well, that's
great! But first things first, you need to know the basics of writing a successful
article! I have compiled this useful guide on the basic steps in writing a good
article, complete with explanations on problems that may arise and how to fix
them. I will talk about getting an idea for an article, writing a rough draft,
proofreading it, and writing the final draft.
Another thing, you may be thinking, "Oh, great! Another useless article!"
Well, I challenge you to give it a chance, and see how useless it is after all.
Remember, you cannot judge a book by its cover!
Searching for an idea:
First thing is first; you need an idea, some sort of inspiration. Maybe a
new event is taking place? Perhaps a newly released plot is taking place? Just
about anything will do! Remember these simple rules, however, when searching
for an idea:
1. An idea needs to be something that you have a lot to say about. You cannot
just run out of ideas halfway through the article! Remember, there should be
1000 words in your article minimum, none less!
2. Obviously, it must be interesting. It needs to lure readers towards the
3. Repeat after me… IT MUST BE ORIGINAL!!! Snowflake (the editor) only accepts
the absolute most original or creative articles, nothing plainer than that.
4. Keep in mind that the staff receives probably hundreds of adventure stories
about a pet on a dangerous quest or lost in a never previously discovered island
in the middle of the Neopian seas each week, so remember that you don't need
to write that kind of story all the time. Indeed, I'd rather stray away from
a topic such as that (they are rather tedious to write in my opinion).
Follow those guidelines, and you are on your way to writing an outstanding
Yes… it's time to decide the genre
Now that you have found the perfect idea, you need to figure out the genre
(i.e. Non-fiction, science fiction, realistic fiction, fantasy, etc.) that fits
the idea. A genre will often affect the mood, setting, and characters of the
story. It'll help you on your way to the much sought after Neopian Times trophy,
remember, so you can't miss THIS important step.
These are a few common genres to watch out for, and maybe even for you to
select for your article:
Fantasy is a wonderful genre! It applies something totally new and different
in any story. Things that could never possibly happen, I guarantee, WILL happen
in a fantasy story. Like, for example, Jhudora and Illusen finally becoming
friendly with each other (that will NEVER happen). It is my favorite genre to
read, and will attract many a curious reader.
Sci-fi (a.k.a. Science fiction)
Have you ever wanted to venture off into a distant planet located in another
celestial neighborhood? Well, in a sci-fi article, you get the closest thing
to it! Mainly, sci-fi has aliens, time machines, different dimensions, and pretty
much anything else you could think of that is out of this world! I think that
sci-fi articles/stories are exciting, and just plain fun.
Non-fiction is things that do happen in Neopia. Generally, non-fiction articles
are informative about a certain idea, share somebody's thoughts about an idea,
or help out with different things in Neopia. An example of this genre is the
article you are reading right now! It's definitely my favorite genre to write.
Realistic fiction is implying real life with made up situations. Neopians
often can relate to the situations, and generally these stories are used to
introduce a new event that is (or isn't) taking place in Neopia. They are really
good, if done correctly and are polished off with a nice little twist. I'd recommend
writing one of these if you are low on imagination scale or have writer's block.
So, what do you think about those? I assure you, there are many more genres
available for your convenience, but I believe that those really are my favorite.
Er… the cheese? Oh… wait, it's just the rough draft…
YES, I know you're thinking, "Why can't I just skip to the part when I get
the trophy?" Well, I wish that were possible too, but I'm afraid we all have
to learn the hard way (uh huh… always the hard way…) and follow the procedure.
Well, next comes the rough draft. You might be saying (with sarcasm, note),
"Oh joy! I've so been looking forward to this!" If you are, then why didn't
you say so? I'll make it as dull and long winding as I can… just kidding!
Anyway, the rough draft is your time to let the creative juices flow! This
is when you concentrate on making your article as fascinating and clever as
possible. Also, this is the time to spell "pie" as "ipe" or put an "!" instead
of a "?". Anyway, you should try to achieve the following goals:
a. A great title: something that pulls the reader's attention
b. A good opening paragraph: always the way to go!!!
c. Structured, solid detail paragraphs
d. Strong details
e. Good examples
f. Nice wrap-up sentence!
Also, you may want to throw in an "Author's Note" thing. Many experienced
authors write one to add personal touch and credit different people. To see
an example, at the top of my article you see an example. Still, it is not required
and is only a mere suggestion of mine.
Proofreading (starting to get tired of this, are you?)
So, you've jotted down your idea. But wait… you can't send it yet! You need
to proofread it first!!! Yes, proofreading… the part we all dread, but can't
seem to find a substitute to. Sure, a select few of us lucky ones have "Spell
Check" to our advantage (^_^), but many do not. Many have asked me if I could
correct their articles, and I assure you that it is not an easy task. In fact,
it is commonly the downfall for a writer's scheme in creating a successful article.
I have a few tips to share with you for proofreading, however, so listen up!
1. Before you take out the dictionary, read through your article and look
for any obvious spelling mistakes (especially if you typed the article). It
helps you save time for more enjoyable events (like changing your kitten's litter
2. Circle or mark the mistakes and take out the dictionary to look up the
spelling of the words. Then you will change the words to the appropriate spelling.
3. Now, if you have one, pull out a grammar textbook or something. Search
for anything that you think could be an error in grammar, and look up things
like "use of commas" in the glossary. If there is an error, then correct it
That is the procedure to follow for proofreading your article if spell-check
is unavailable to you. If you have any doubts about this procedure, then Neomail
me with your questions, for I'll be obliged to help.
The Final Pickle (I mean… draft!)
This is the final step to achieving Neopia-wide glory! Here you will concentrate
on polishing up the article, getting rid of run-ons and fragments, and putting
the article into a finished format. It is a rather easy, but important step
because you are mostly adding a bit more color to your article.
You need to concentrate on these things:
1. Use of vocabulary
4. Sentence quality
Polishing up your article implies one word: Imagery. Imagery is adding in
a little bit more detail to your statement, or you could say being specific.
Instead of saying, "The Usul went to the park with her friend," you could say,
"The small, timid Usul was led to the park by her best friend." Doesn't that
sound better? It makes you picture the scene, which is the goal for any author.
If you did that, then more people would want to read it. Also, practicing this
will improve your writing tremendously at school, work, or wherever you may
A way to improve your story is to use good vocabulary. You can improve your
vocabulary by reading or even just exploring around Neopia! Best of all, there
are certain games, such as Spell-or-Starve, that require a substantial storehouse
of words. After improving your vocabulary, you'll have a better chance to success!
See, you finally found a way to use all those extra words you've been learning
at school for "no good reason".
A good way to show the editors that you "know what you are talking about"
is to have good presentation. Presentation is the thing that those teachers
of yours have been bugging you about since 2nd Grade with those pesky reports.
Oh yeah! Now you remember! Basically, presentation includes:
A juicy title (one that attracts loads of attention)
All events in chronological order (you don't start with the end of the story,
Sentences that actually make sense (save the gibbering for the chat boards)
Examples of the main idea or purpose (for non-fiction articles)
Being on topic all the time (when you are talking about Illusen's makeup
in a paragraph, don't start talking about how many Chias there are in Neopia!)
A good wrap-up sentence (one with feeling and… inspiration!)
Sentence quality is a mix of all of these. It implies imagery, good vocabulary,
and good presentation. Often the quality of the sentences really counts. If
you have run-ons, fragments, and generally unsatisfying sentences, then nobody
will want to read your article. For example:
"Ate the pie," is a fragment because it has no subject.
Instead of that, you could say:
Lori ate the pie.
"Miss May has a Meepit, his name is Bruce!" is a run-on. This is because it
is not separated into two sentences, a compound sentence, or one sentence properly.
Instead of that you could say:
Miss May has a Meepit named Bruce.
Miss May has a Meepit. His name is Bruce!
Miss May has a Meepit; his name is Bruce!
Follow those tips and your article is Neopian Times material for sure!!!
Now the day has finally arrived! You are all set. Your article neatly
printed in black ink inside ready to be mailed at any second. A stamp is carefully
placed upon the envelope near the gleaming Neopian Times address! Good luck!
You hand it carefully to the mail carrier as he passes by, and you watch him
drive off with the letter safely in his letter bag. I hope you make it…
A week or so later you hear the bell ring, and open it. There, sitting atop
your doorstep, is a small trophy…gleaming magnificently in the sun. You seize
the trophy and rush inside to get a closer look. Sure enough, on the bottom
of the trophy the following is engraved: "Awarded to *your name* for a beneficial
contribution to The Neopian Times…" Congratulations! You just achieved the honorable
title "Neopian Times author"! Give yourself a pat on the back! It was your hard
work that did it!