General Knowledge: Pet and Petpet Spotlights!
If you've been reading the news feature, you're likely to have noticed that on every Monday and Thursday the winners of the Pet and Petpet Spotlights are announced. I decided to write this little article because of my long lasting and continued obsession with both. I don't claim to be an expert on either Spotlight but I've received several neomails asking how it is that I've won. To date one of my pets has one the Pet Spotlight and four petpets have won the Petpet Spotlight.
Now, I aim to transfer my general knowledge onto you Neopian Times readers.
First off, a Pet or Petpet Spotlight is basically an ode to your pet or his or her petpet. In the span of 500 to 2500 words and a drawing you have to pay tribute to whatever it is that makes them unique or special to you (in the case of pets) and to your pet (in the case of petpets).
The Spotlights are quite simply an exercise in creativity as you have to come up with an idea for your pet and/or petpet. As such the first step is to have a character in mind for your pet or petpet. So let your creative juices flowing and start a list. A list will help you keep track of all those cool thoughts that race through your brain and while they may not apply to the pet or petpet that you are trying to enter in the Spotlight they may be of use to other pets or petpets. Writing them down will protect them against the horror that is forgetfulness.
If you're not coming up with any ideas, think of your pets/petpets color and behavior associated with such a color. Be advised that your story must be Neo-related so it is set in Neopia with only Neopian technology and characters. Brush up on your Neopedia, Gallery of Heroes and Gallery of Evil if you need outside characters. Look up the description of your pet or petpet, it can be a jumping off point as well. Neopia has several different lands with different behavior traits that can inspire you (i.e: caveman for Tyrannia or a snobbish royal pet). The color and behavior could also clash leading to a rather interesting premise of why it is so. There are doubtlessly countless ways to approach writing a Spotlight entry, you are certain to find your own unique flair.
Now, once you have your magical idea, you have to write it! This, like all narrations, can be done in three ways. The first, is a first person point of view, in which your pet or petpet is doing the story telling. You can tell this narration by the use of ''I''. The second, is a second person point of view, you recognize this by the use of ''you'' as if someone is telling the story of your actions, for example; "you scroll down to read more of this delightful article". Lastly, is the third person point of view, some else altogether telling the story using "she", "he", "it" or "they" to describe ongoing action. Reminds you a bit of your writing lessons! These points of view are important to bear in mind as they change how you tell your story. For some characters a first person point of view would be far more interesting to read than a third person point of view. And the use of the second person point of view can give the reader a sense of greater interaction for the story.
At this point you have your character idea, your story idea and you have chosen a point of view in which to write your narrative. It is time to start writing! Going back to your amazing writing classes, I usually construct a rough outline. Introduction: Set the stage for pet/petpet appearance. Development: what your pet/petpet does. Conclusion: a sweet (or not so sweet depending on the pet) ending. It isn't always necessary to write it down as sometimes the idea will automatically split itself this way, at least in my head.
Sometimes, you happen to finish writing and yet you haven't reached the minimum word count (500). At this point, if you haven't written an outline it is time to do so. Why? Through the outline, you will see if you can add any other sequence of events into your Development section. If you can't add anything more and you are just missing a few words, a good idea is to add adjectives. The goal being to spin a tale that is a tribute to your pet or petpet adjectives can only help if used correctly! You can use adjectives to describe your pet or petpet obviously, but they can add to the ambiance by describing the location or the mood. This only works if you're a little short on words. If you're at 100 words the only way to help yourself is truly outlining your story in a very detailed fashion.
Final step with any writing is spell check! Reread your entry a couple of times to make sure you spelled everything correctly.
You've worked hard thinking and writing your story but you're not done yet! We have arrived to the dreaded other half of the Spotlight, the art. The medium doesn't matter so if you're pants at drawing on the computer, pencil and paper are your new best friends! if you read the editorial religiously, you may notice that TNT stated that having art wasn't mandatory but they'd prioritise those that did because more effort was put in the entry! So go ahead, draw your heart out!!
Really, it isn't that bad, but if you're like me and drawing isn't your strong suit so you might be worried. I'm here to tell you to let go of your fears! What I call "art" is rather dubious and yet I've managed to win! The Spotlight is a mix of both and you don't have to submit something the quality of the Art Gallery but it can't be something crudely drawn! Put in your best effort into it and you shall reap the rewards! If drawing isn't your strong suit, just keep your drawing simple it'll help in the execution. If you are superb at drawing, I will be one of the people drooling over your drawing and envying your talent. No matter your skill level, it is important that your drawing follow all Neo rules and be relevant to your Spotlight! If you're writing about a Desert Aisha and your drawing is that of a Halloween Lenny, you have a problem. But if you drew a Desert Aisha that looks like a Desert Aisha and can be recognized as such, you're good. Don't believe me? Flip through the previous winners of the Spotlights you'll find a variety of art in broad range of skill!
At long last your entry is complete! You are now ready to submit it and begin the last step; The Wait. Yes, it capitalised because The Wait can be long but it can also be short. My advice after you've entered your piece to wait for about a month or so, if after a month your entry hasn't been chosen it might be time to rewrite it. Or it could also be that you have to wait a little because your entries theme clashes with the calendar. For instance, if you submit a spooky entry in January (the month of Sleeping) you may not win until October (the month of Collecting) because October is generally the month of spookiness what with Halloween and all. As such, keep an eye on the Neopian calendar to help you gauge how long you'll wait. Don't bother re-entering your entry each week unless you've edited it as TNT stated in an editorial that it doesn't help your chances any!
One final note, it is easier to win the Petpet Spotlight than it is the Pet Spotlight. This is because almost every week there is a Pet Day and generally the species that is having their Pet Day is also the species that is chosen for the Spotlight. This restriction doesn't apply to petpets though therefore it is easier with them. This doesn't mean that you won't be waiting for a bit to find out the result!
Good luck! Let me know if I've been helpful, if you need more help or if you have other tips to pass, I'd love to know!