The Neopian Times – A Guide to Getting Published
It is impossible to get published in the Neopian Times! Where am I even supposed to start? My writing or drawing skills aren’t nearly good enough to be accepted into the biggest creative aspect of Neopets. It’s just too hard!
Sound familiar? Countless users on the site today shy away from entering their work into the Neopian Times because they simply think they are not good enough. Many are afraid of working so hard on a piece of work and then being turned down after spending hours on it. Some are clueless about how they should begin. Some are even too intimidated by the Neopians who do get published to try themselves. This is where all these sketchy thoughts come to an end! Like I said before, people think it’s “too hard” to get published. Mark my words; it is not. No matter what kind of artist you are: experienced, a beginner, old, young or even one who is completely overwhelmed by how to begin, there is always an area you can easily work on to earn you that shiny trophy on your lookup! Throw all those doubts you have away and get ready to make the front page! Still interested? Read on.
Why Do I Want to Get Published?
First, let’s look at the great benefits you get from making it into the Neopian Times. Everybody can get great enjoyment out of it one way or another!
1. The Trophy: Ever seen a beautiful “Neopian Times CHAMPION!!!” trophy on someone’s lookup? Yep, that’s right. That golden quill is the official marking of a published Neopian writer. Anyone who gets a piece of writing or comic published in the Neopian Times receives one of these! As a bonus, if you get printed more than once it will appear under the text “x2, x3, x4” etc so whoever is snooping around your lookup can know exactly how talented you are! And before you ask, no you do not have to do anything specific to get the “champion” status. In my opinion, everyone who is in the Neopian Times is a champion! TNT must agree, don’t you?
2. The Avatars: Here in Neopia, we love shiny golden quills! That’s why TNT also brought out an avatar with yours truly on it as a reward for being published. But there is a small catch this time! To get the Neopian Times Star avatar, you have to get ten individual pieces you have written published. Up to the task? Don’t be scared, with some practice and hard work, you will get there in no time! “What?” I hear you say. ANOTHER avatar? Yep, this one is a little trickier. To get the Neopian Times Writer avatar, you must have a submission published in an issue which is a multiple of 50. e.g, 100, 150, 200 etc... It’s tough because many serious avatar collectors enter at this time, all desperate to snag the prize! But still, don’t let that intimidate you. With some determination you could have that White Weewoo as your companion on the neoboards very soon!
3. Achievement and Recognition: I know this one may sound a bit sugar coated, but in my opinion, it’s the best benefit of having a submission accepted. Ask any writer and they will tell you that they were overcome with a sense of achievement when they saw their first piece of work up on the site! And even more, think of all the other Neopians who will be reading or viewing your work. Some may find it very helpful and entertaining. Who knows, maybe you will get a few appreciation neomails soon after your big break.
Okay, now that we know why we want to get published and just how great it is, let's get down to the next step: Getting Published. There are many ways for you to get a submission of your own accepted. The Neopian Time is broken down into four major categories for budding writers. But in turn, each of these can be broken down into many different styles and formats. All you have to do is find the kind that best suits your talent.
The articles seen in the Neopian Times are pieces of written work between 1,000 and 50,000 words. See, your options are already wide open! Don’t confuse these with short stories or a series of stories, though. Articles just like this one are often helpful and informative. But they can also be humorous and very fun to read! Still a bit confused? Check out all the areas of articles you could take part in:
a) Guides: Guides galore! They help confused Neopians find their way through the site and advance their way in the game. This is a very useful area to consider writing in as TNT obviously want to help out other Neopians just as much as you do. But this time, you do all the work! A guide can be written on any aspect of the site; flash games, other games, the Battledome, account maintenance, customization, guilds, galleries and even a very awesome guide on how to get into the Neopian Times in the first place! (Sense the irony.) Anyways, the list can go on forever. An important tip to remember when deciding on a guide is that you DO NOT have to be an expert in the field you are writing in! Take me for example. If this guide is published right now (and I hope it has been!), it will have been my second time in the Neopian Times. I don’t even have the avatar, let alone ten submissions in total! The key to writing a good guide is researching beforehand. Gather every bit of information you can on the subject and explain it in words. Also try and get some personal experience in the area by testing it out yourself. Find out what the dos and don’ts are when it comes to the site feature you are writing a guide for. Also, check the news regularly for new flash games appearing on the site. A new game means an article hasn’t been written on it yet and that upcoming article could be by you! Play, play and play the game until you know it inside out and are ready to give some advice to others. For some great examples of the type of guides you can write, check out previous issues to get a look on how it’s done!
b) Information and Comparatives: These articles can literally be on anything. Many users role play during these pieces and pretend to be a character on the site such as the Space Faerie or a keeper of one of Neopets’s shops. Although the information given in them may not affect us using the site like a guide would, they can still be very enjoyable to read! Lots of these articles are detailed descriptions / history of a site feature or a piece written to compare one aspect of the site to another. Some help you appreciate a certain type of petpet or Neopian world better by learning a lot about them. The main thing you should concentrate on here is how amazingly open these articles are! Unlike the guides, your information does not have to be 100% true. If you want to write an article on the reasons that Dr. Sloth is actually a hero and not a villain, go ahead! You can make up a lot of information about a certain item or pet which TNT have actually not said themselves. Although, you may want to stick to some sort of realism. Even though a lot of these pieces coin their own facts, you should give authentic but yet very interesting information. Also, don’t be afraid to give your own opinions on the subject you are talking about. To get a feel for informative and comparative articles, look back and read some previously published ones. You may be inspired!
c) Lists: Lists are an extremely simple but effective method of article writing. Some are long and detailed and some are short have nice pictures beside each listing! A popular type of list is a “top ten,” or “ten things you never knew about,” and even “ten ways not to...” You could practically write an article in itself on the different types of lists. But again, the information does not have to be true. You may write a list of the top foods for Kougras but we all know that neopets aren’t the pickiest of creatures when it comes to fine dining! The main thing to consider here is enticing your reader into finding out what is the next item on the list. Try to build up a sense of suspense throughout your article. If you are writing a “top ten” or similar piece, save the best until last and you are sure to captivate your audience!
d) Personality Quizzes: I know, I am surprised as you are to see this one. But the truth is, we Neopians love the odd quiz here or there in our favourite newspaper! The basic concept of these is to ask a series of opinionative questions with a collection of possible answers in your submission, each with a specific number or letter. Then at the end you see how many of a certain letter/number you got which matches you to something at the end. For example, a very basic quiz could be “Which Neopet Are You?” If after reading and answering each question you look at which number of answers you most picked. If you picked mostly 3s, then you are a Lupe! This is just hypothetical, of course. Tips for these are to make the quizzes witty and also give a great description of the result you get at the end and why you got it. Honestly, these ones couldn’t be easier to write. Have fun with them!
2. Short Stories:
Story telling is another way you can get published in the Neopian Times. Ever had a knack for essay writing outside of Neopets? Do you tend to write in your spare time? Then stories are the area for you! These can be between 1,200 and 4,000 words, so unlike the articles, which can reach 50,000, the word “short” is there for a reason. Make sure you do not exceed the limit. A strong story should have a beginning, middle and an end. Try to allow your piece of writing to flow and make sure it doesn’t end too abruptly! Finding yourself rambling on a bit too much? Then maybe you should try writing a series instead (which we will get to later). Description, format and vocabulary are very important when writing stories. Keep editing your work to enrich the text and perhaps read different stories to see how other Neopians write!
Most stories published are about characters which TNT has already created. Have you taken part in a plot recently and really enjoyed reading about one of the story’s characters? Why not continue their story yourself! Write about what happens next. Or maybe you could write about a character from one of your favourite games. The possibilities are endless! Just make sure you do not mention real-life issues such as politics in your stories as TNT do not allow non-Neopets related concepts on their site.
Now, let’s take a look at the different types of stories you could perhaps write yourself!
a) Personal Stories: Many Neopians write stories about their own neopets, speaking as their owner. Some derive them from true stories such as the day they painted their pet Lost Desert or their pet's fifth birthday. You can really write whatever you like here about your personal neopets. And as an added bonus, your little bundles of joy will have some fame themselves! These stories could also be written as if you are a Neopian character writing in their diary. In a journal, the language should be very personal but also slightly conversational. But make it exciting! After all, who likes a boring diary?
b) Adventure Tales: These are the most common types of stories found in the Neopian Times. Like I mentioned before, this is where you can write about your favourite character created by TNT and describe an adventure they once had! You may gain a fan or two that also like the character you have chosen to write about too.
c) Reflective Stories: In this style of writing, it is mainly written through first-person narrative. You can write as if you are the character in the story, looking back on a particular moment in their life. Reflective stories should hold some suspense throughout the piece. For example, you could imply at the beginning of your story that your neopet is full of regret and is now telling his/her tale. Then slowly let the reader discover why the character has come to feel this way. Then again, you can do anything you like with these kinds of stories!
Please keep in mind that these are only some of the types of stories you can write. And the subcategories themselves can also be broken down in turn! The importance of story telling is to be creative so don’t concentrate on rules too much. Just make sure you enjoy what you write!
3. A Series
Series work the same as short stories, except that you write them in parts. Each part can be between 1,500 and 50,000 words. TNT have advised writers not to submit more than six to eight parts to give others a chance to get published but can accept up to a total of twelve. The great thing about series writing is that each part counts as a separate submission into the Neopian Times. So, if you do manage to write a ten part series and have it accepted, you will get the avatar! Another reason why you should consider writing a series is to get the second Neopian Times avatar. If you carefully plan your submission to begin before a multiple of 50 issue but to then run through it, if accepted, then you will get the avatar! Like I said earlier, the competition for the “50” issues is fierce so this may act as a sort of back door into getting your shiny neoboard icon.
The same advice applies to a series as to short stories, so make sure you have read that and also try and read some other series published in the past! Are you ready to release your newest trilogy?
Comics are probably a quicker way of getting published. They can be drawn and written in a very short space of time, but you still need two important talents to write them. The first is humour! Take a look at the comics TNT publish each week. Most are extremely funny, with a strong sense of dry humour or irony. Sometimes, all the illustrators need to write is one line and the joke is golden. The second, but less important thing you need is the ability to draw. We all know it; sometimes comics have amazing art work and sometimes they don’t. The main thing about getting your comic published is the humour aspect of it. Who cares if your drawing isn’t top notch? It can still be just as funny. Now that you know what it takes to start a comic, let’s look at a few rules that apply to them.
First, you must make sure that all the art work is 100% your own creation. It is against Neopets rules to steal drawings other users drew and pretend to pass them off as your own. You can hand draw them and upload them to your computer or use drawing software on your computer. Second, draw your comic to take place somewhere in Neopia. Maybe you could write one about your own neopet. Also, ensure that all of the text can be read clearly and that you are submitting one image and not a series of frames. (You can still separate the image as much as you like with art.) You can also submit a 150 x 150 thumbnail of your comic (again original work if drawn) to appear as a preview before clicking into it. If you don’t, TNT will create one for you.
Personally, I don’t think that comics can be broken down into many sections. Just make sure if you decided to tackle a comic that it is funny! Take a look at previous comics published to see what other Neopian comedians are writing about!
Well there you have it, a guide to each area of the Neopian Times which you can write in. Didn’t think it was so broad, did you? Just in case you still need some extra help, here are some general tips to getting published:
Think of the tone! For whatever type of piece you are writing. It is important to keep the tight tone throughout the submission. If you are writing a guide, make it enthusiastic, motivating and slightly humorous! If you are writing an adventure story, make sure you include a lot of descriptive language. Keeping an overall tone which is appropriate for your piece will help you getting your submission accepted!
Think of themes! If there is a certain holiday coming up, like Halloween or Christmas, why don’t you write a themed piece of work? Neopets generally publish a special edition theme version of the paper around this time which only include articles, stories and comics on that subject. Try to achieve an exciting twist on the holiday theme and you may find yourself with a new trophy! Just make sure to submit it over a week before that holiday! You can also include in the extra comments section of the submission form something along the lines of “this is intended for the Christmas issue.”
Think of the format! Formatting your work correctly is vital for getting published. Articles are especially important to format appropriately. If you are writing a quiz, make sure you give an introduction, the questions and the results. Give different sections titles if you need to. If you are writing a game guide, then perhaps you could write it under headings similar to these: Game Basics, Controls, Scoring, Extra Tips and so on. Just make sure your work has a structure and is not all over the place. TNT like to be neat! If you want words to be in bold, underline or italics use HTML coding in your submission and TNT should put it in for you.
Think of the title! Titles are a very important part of your article/story. Try and make your title original. Don’t give everything away in it. You want to leave your reader wondering what your submission is about and therefore they will click on it and begin to read. This rule applies the same for the people reviewing your work before it’s accepted. If the title is good, you have a slightly better chance.
Did you know that you can collaborate with a submission? Yep, you and your friend can write an article or story together. Or perhaps one of you could draw a comic and another could come up with the dialogue! Although both partners put in the work, only one submits it. But you have to make sure you put in the comments section that the user (insert username) also wrote/drew the piece of work. If your submission is accepted, both users will receive a trophy.
If a submission you have entered is rejected by TNT, see if they give a reason. If, by a mistake, you mentioned real life issues in a short story you wrote, you will be told that your story has issues concerning the real world and not Neopets. Search through your piece and aim to delete what was causing the problem. Then give it another go and resubmit.
Don’t get discouraged. You’ve heard it before; if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again! Just make sure you are spending enough time on your work. Never submit an article without being happy with your finished product. If it’s not accepted, don’t worry. Just take a short break from writing and try again later. You will eventually reach your goal!
Have you ever counted how many articles/stories/comics the Neopian Times has each week? If you have, you would have noticed that the amount changes! One week there may be eight articles published and the next there may be 11. This shows that TNT doesn’t have a cut off point and tries their best to publish every deserving piece of work. So think of it this way; if you are good enough, you will succeed. If not, practice and try again!
There you have it! Pretty much everything you need to know on how to get published. I hope this guide has helped you find what you were looking for. Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start writing. See you on the front page!