YOUR DESK - Every single week, I read the Times for entertainment. I enjoy
reading the stories and articles written by kids like me. But the stories I
like to read the most are the ones that are posted on the front page. I always
daydream about how could I could be if I could just write like those sparkling
authors. Of course, some source of inspiration wells up from inside me. I open
the word processor on my computer as quickly as I can... and write.
I also daydream as I write. In my mind’s eye, I see my trophy cabinet full
of writing awards: Poetry 47x CHAMPION! Neopian Times 65x CHAMPION! Storytelling
23x CHAMPION! But soon, it’s time for me to go eat dinner... and that excitement
I just had about my story slips away from me, so when I sit back down at the
computer to write, I feel like I can’t do it.
This happens to a lot of people just like me. We sit down at the computer,
armed and ready to write the biggest story to ever occur in the Times, but one
thing or another holds us back. Sadly, there are strings attached to writing
for some. Here’s some examples:
1.) We always compare ourselves to others. I’m here to tell you right
now, this isn’t the kind of attitude you should have about writing! You shouldn’t
compare yourself to other people as a matter of habit. If you’re comparing yourself
for grammatical usage (things like use of adjectives and so on) or something
else vital to writing, fine, but if you just compare yourself to compare yourself,
you’re tearing yourself down. You see, people who always compare themselves
to others just to find the smallest flaws in their writing are called perfectionists.
These people are uncomfortable with even the smallest of flaws. This is sometimes
a problem with me. Being a perfectionist a huge reason that people don’t get
published in the Times.
I’ve included an example of a story I’ve started a few days ago. I’ll be using
this example throughout the article.
The rain splashed vociferously onto the frozen cement. The dying sunlight
cast an eerie glow on the face of the earth as frosted, wilted trees hovered
lifelessly over the sidewalk in warped arches. There wasn’t a single soul
to be seen on the street... none except a white Kougra huddled under a small
Nicky looked out into the dreary world. He wiped his tearstained eyes and
pulled his jacket up to his ears. He thought about last night over and over...
Then, as soon as I hit the fork in the road (I could take this story in any
direction I want to), I try to think what “all the other authors” would say.
This often causes me to stare at the screen as if it were a picture of Dr. Sloth
and Illusen spending Valentine’s Day together (no further details). You see,
trying to make yourself “like the big shots” isn’t always the best answer. You
have to able to work at your own pace! Trying to make yourself like everyone
else isn’t the right thing to do!
2.) We start a story, but we’re to lazy to finish it. I have six words
for you: I DO THIS ALL THE TIME! This is another big road block for aspiring
writers. We start with a bright future intact...
AUTHOR, DAY 1: This story is gonna be the best one that The Neopian Times has
ever seen! Look out, Times!
...but the next day...
AUTHOR, DAY 2: Awwwww, do I have to finish the story?
You see, story writing gets to be a chore for some. You’ll see what I mean
in reason Three.
3.)We get easily distracted. I have seen authors who have an extraordinary
sense of patience with themselves. I think to myself, How do they do it? For
me, patience doesn’t come that naturally. That’s another big reasons stories
don’t get finished.
Not having enough patience to finish the story means that we are easily distracted
and drawn to something else. People that always get distracted will never get
anything done. We have to learn to set long- and short-time goals, or else we’ll
be unable to make decisions wisely.
Let’s return back to the example of Nicky, who was huddled under a tree when
we last saw him. Well, he’s finally from under that tree (I stopped comparing
myself to others), but now I’m sort of getting tired of this story, and when
I finally get so frustrated with myself, the story ends up looking like this:
Nicky ran down the alley from the muscular bandits, but there was a dead
end. Oh no! The bandits had him cornered but
You see what I mean? Just imagine if I got so sick of this article I decided
to end right here.
So, as you can see, giving up on a story you have big dreams about is the wrong
answer. Don’t push the story away from you. You have to run towards it! If you
need some extra encouragement, don’t be afraid to ask your Language Arts teacher!
I do it all the time (literally!) This works especially if your teacher assigns
journal assignments and you have the option of writing free choice. When your
teacher grades the assignment and hands it back, look for comments and corrections
on the page. They can really help you when it comes to writing that perfect
Okay, so you’ve got your story about little Nicky all nicely typed, it’s been
carefully proofread, and you have it all packed and ready to go. But you just
can’t bring yourself to take the most important step to being published in the
Times... pressing the “Send” button. The force that holds us back from pressing
the button... fear of rejection.
Don’t worry, this happens to all of us, even the greatest of us. Some of the
most famous writers didn’t get their first book published right away. In fact,
it took him about seven tries to get it published! None of us will ever get
published right away. In fact, The Neopets Team is even nice enough to send
an e-mail about why your story was rejected. I sent a story in a few months
ago. Sadly, it got rejected, but the Team had sent me an e-mail to read. Once
I thoroughly read it, I understood what was wrong with it: the subject matter
(it dealt with romance) and its length (I only sent in one part; it was supposed
to be a series).
Here’s a list of hints to get your story in the Times. It’s condensed, so to
find out more, you can read the Storytelling FAQ for general publication rules
for any writing competition on Neopets, or you can read articles in the Times
for more hints.
-Originality: Make the story original! How often do we read about a young peasant
finding magical treasure in Meridell? Can’t remember. How many times have we
seen an unloved, unpainted Uni find a true friend in school at Neopia Central?
Lost count. These are good themes for beginners because they are tried-and-true,
but don’t be afraid to step out and take a risk! Don’t be scared to explore
an underworld operation in the Deep Catacombs! Step out and imagine a typical
day at the Igloo Garage Sale!
-Subject Matter: Don’t write your story about a subject you might find in a
PG or PG13 movie. This means romance, violence, or profanity. There are exceptions,
though. The closest to romance you can get is a “crush”. But keep it as modest
as possible... “Harmless” to you might mean “Explicit” to them. Remember, five,
four, even three year olds log onto Neopets every day.
Violence offers another exception. Every year, there’s some type of war going
on in Neopia. We just finished one between Darigan and Meridell. (But please,
if you can, try and stay away from Meridell! We’re wearing it out!) Just don’t
go into excessive detail, such as blood, gore, things falling off or getting
cut off. @_@
-Length: Make sure your story is at the very least one thousand words. Aim
for two thousand, you’ll have a better chance of getting in! Don’t make your
story a mere two or three hundred words. That’s an example of something you
would enter into the Story Telling competition. Try to make it about five or
six pages on a word processor.
As you can see, there are many things that hold beginning writers like you
and me back. But there’s one thing that can help you immensely when writing
your first stories and articles: feedback. Don’t be afraid to ask anyone to
read your work! Ask you teachers, ask your friends, ask your neighbors (trustworthy
ones only!)...ask anyone! Read it out loud to yourself, read it to siblings
for a bedtime story... read it whenever you have a chance.
Until next time, this has been yellowlabs765, signing off. Buena suerte!
AUTHOR’S NOTE: All examples used with Nicky are taken from the story “Alone”
(not yet published)and are not to be used without the sole permission of the
author. Thank you.