As a professional (and often published in The Neopian Times) writer, I am frequently
Neomailed with questions about how to write well, or how to refine one's writing
skills. Because of this, I have put together this three part writing workshop
to help aspiring writers hone their skills.
Everyone (yes, this means you!) has the ability to write an article. There
are some people, however, for whom writing comes more naturally than others.
They always seem to know the right words to say, and the proper context in which
to place them. For the rest of the world, however, writing can be a struggle,
or even at times, a chore. By following four simple steps you can turn out a
great article in no time!
Determine your Skill Level
How are/were your language arts grades? The more proficient you are with the
elements of grammar and style, the more intelligent and comprehensible your
writing will be. If you are not very skilled in the language arts, work on improving
your spelling and grammar skills first. This is something that will benefit
you for your entire life. If you have a reasonable proficiency in the language
arts, and can understand how grammar and tense operate, you're ready to write.
If you are not as skilled as you should be...
Can you Fake It?
There are wonderful strides being made these days with spell-check and grammar-check
technology. Use them. If you have a limited vocabulary, pick up a thesaurus
to add variety to your words and sentence structure. And above all, never use
"chat abbreviations" in a formal published work. These include "u" for "you"
and "ur" for "your" and "z" for words where an "s "belongs. These abbreviations
aren't funny, or cute, they just make your article look poorly written, and
barely literate. So just don't use them.
Take a blank piece of paper or a notepad on your computer and just jot down
ideas for what you'd like the topic of your article to be. Don't worry about
what they are at this point, or how silly they may be, just let your brain power
flow. Write down directly everything that comes to mind, without editing, onto
the paper or notepad. Do this for five to ten minutes then examine the results.
Eliminate inappropriate topics by asking the following questions in regards
to what your brainstorming turned up:
· Am I knowledgeable on this topic?
· Does this topic interest me?
· Is this a topic other people would be interested in?
· Is this a fresh topic, or has it been overdone?
Once you have chosen your topic, plan out what you will write on that topic.
Make sure that you include relevant information only, and that you do not include
anything that would violate the Neopets terms and conditions. Organise a list
of sub-topics. For example, an article on the game Tombola might include the
· Introduction/What the word Tombola means
· The location of the Tombola.
· How often you can play Tombola.
· Some sample prizes I have received from Tombola.
· Why the Tiki Tack Man isn't in the Tombola sometimes (when it's closed)
· Conclusion: Why I like Tombola.
The Write Stuff!
Starting with the introduction, begin to write a rough draft of your piece.
The introduction should include what I like to call 'the hook'. This is basically
an interesting sentence (usually the first sentence or two ) that gives readers
a reason to keep on reading. Going with the example of the Tombola article above,
you might use this as your hook:
Hey, mon - have you heard the native drums beating out the news? Tiki Tack
Tombola is the happening place to be!
This gives a humorous island accent to what could be a boring sentence pair
Tombola is free. You should play it.
A reader would be more likely to find the first sentence pair interesting than
the second. Hooking a reader will keep them wanting to find out more, which
means they will read your article in detail, and not just pass it over, or give
it a skim.
Edit, Edit, and more Edit
Revision is the key when you're a writer. Very rarely is the first draft of
writing perfect. Check your writing for spelling and grammar errors by hand
to catch the more obvious ones, then run it through the spell and grammar check
of your word processor. After that is done, print out a copy and read it aloud
to see how the piece flows. If it sounds choppy, or unclear, edit the sections
that don't mesh well, and try again. Lastly, share your piece with a friend
who writes well, and get their honest opinion. When you are satisfied with your
editing, you're ready for the final step...
Submit your article to The Neopian Times by e-mail as an attached document with
all the formatting put in (bold, underline, etc.) where you want it. Make the
subject of your e-mail something that describes why you are e-mailing, such
as: Article Submission. Write a polite, spellchecked, well written note
in the e-mail that includes the following:
· A polite greeting
· Your NeoPets' username
· A brief summary of your article's topic and purpose
· A closing which thanks the editor of the Times for reading your work and considering
it for publication.
If you are published--great! Be sure to tell all your friends to read your
Oh, no! Your article wasn't published! Don't worry, it's not the end of the
world. Most writers have a long stack of rejections that far outweighs their
publications, especially when they are just getting started. Don't give up!
Try rereading the article to see if there were any obvious errors you missed
(unsuitable topic, bad grammar/spelling, unclear wording). If you find errors,
rework it and submit the new and improved version.
Also, remember there is only so much space in the Times for articles each week.
If other people submitted topics of a similar nature on the same week, your
piece may not have been chosen due to the repeat topic through no fault of your
As with all things, practice makes perfect. You can be an article writer--don't
give up! I hope this article has been helpful to you. If you have any questions
about the content of this article, please feel free to Neomail me.