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The Inspirational Guide To Becoming A NT Star!


by aleu1986

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So you`ve set your eyes on the beautiful, golden Neopian Times Star avatar? Of course you have! It`s easily one of the most gorgeous and unique avatars on Neopets, and you would be so proud to have it on display on the boards. The only thing standing between you and the avatar is making your number of publications hit the double digits. (Editorial questions don`t count, I`m afraid).

This guide is focused on articles rather than stories, and is designed to be helpful to the beginner writer and to offer useful tips to getting published in the NT and making your way to ten published pieces and beyond! Even if you`ve already been published a few times but struggle to find ideas and inspiration, I hope you`ll find this guide helpful.

Inspirational Tips For The Beginner Or The Struggling Writer

Remember that under the article definition also falls lists (this is a fun one!) interviews, polls, guides, quizzes and even recipes! You can write a list about items, conduct an interview with your favourite Neopian character, write a game guide, a personality quiz (such as Which Faerie Are You?) or even share your ideas for making Neopian dishes in your own kitchen!

If you`ve never written an article before, and don`t know where to start, or if you`ve hit a writers block or a dry spell, here are some useful tips to find new ideas and get writing!

Establish what you like on Neopets, this makes it easier to narrow down your list of topics to choose from. You may struggle to write about something you`re not actually interested in, and you won`t produce your best work as a result. Take your time, and write about your favourite things! What do you like to do on Neopets? Which species and Neopian characters are your favourites? Do you collect something, like stamps or avatars? What are your interests outside of Neopia, and how can you relate them to something on Neopets?

Here are some suggestions relating to different topics/areas of Neopia and the Neopets site.

Avatars

This subject is very well suited for lists and polls. You may list the top cool game avatars, best Halloween avies, or the cutest/prettiest ones. Make a thread on the Neoboards and ask your fellow Neopians about their avatar collections. Which ones they`re most proud of getting, or which avies are they dreaming of having?

Interesting discussions and questions may arise from this topic, such as "Do you consider a high avatar count a status symbol?" or "Do you judge people by their active avatar?" Don`t be afraid to put difficult and thought-provoking questions to your fellow players – their answers may surprise you and make for quite a fun article!

Battling and Training

The subject of battling and training is good for guides and discussions. Some suggestions: Write about Battledome opponents (the War of the Obelisk alone should be quite inspiring!) or a guide to the best defence weapons. Maybe focus on a specific arena, such as Frost Arena, and discuss your best strategies for defeating the Snow Faerie or other opponents. Perhaps ask other battlers which Neopian characters they would like to face off against in the Battledome.

When it comes to training, you may write about various methods of gaining stats, such as the different training schools, special Neggs and Faerie Quests.

Customization

This is a fairly broad topic and one that should yield plenty of ideas, especially for those with a passion for fashion. The possibilities are vast, you can write about species clothing, either for one species (like Hissi or Xweetok) or a list spotlighting many different species sets. You can highlight single garments or full sets, it`s up to you! Focus on either NP clothing, NC or a combination of both. Share customization ideas that relate to a certain holiday or time of year, pick your favourite (or underrated) clothes/backgrounds or list the greatest NC collectibles. This topic also includes paint brush clothing, which is a less explored category. You can also write about NC trading, guides to the customization spotlight or even rate the outfits/fashion sense of Neopian characters.

Games

When it comes to games, the first ideas that spring to many writers minds is to write a game guide. This is all fine and good, but although there are hundreds of games on Neopets, most of them have had several guides written about them already. The more popular the game, the less likely it is that your guide will be published, even if you offer fresh insight and new hints. Do some research, and if you come across a game that hasn`t had dozens of guides published in the NT previously, give it a go. Otherwise, I`d say broaden your horizons.

Here are some ideas: Do some polls on the Neoboards regarding games, ask about people`s favourite action/puzzle games, maybe even which game avatars are the coolest or most coveted.

You can even write about trophies, such as the most impressive gold/champion trophies based on design. Try imagining yourself as a Neopets game designer! If you could make a new game, what would it be about? The Daily Dare is also a fun topic, and this can include anything from which game you struggled most with, to the best prizes, to what themes you`d like to see for the two teams (AAA and Abigail) in the next challenge.

Food

Neopian Foods are varied and quite interesting. From tropical fruits to gross foods and haunted desserts, there should be plenty of inspiration to be had from this topic.

My suggestions: Food and drink items related to petpets or Neopets (such as Aisha Cinnamon Roll or Noil Tea) or food/drink that certain species would like to eat, like Bruce may enjoy slushies and snow foods as they're native land is Terror Mountain, and Kougras would like tropical fruits as they`re native to Mystery Island. Food/drink related to a certain holiday (like spooky foods for Halloween, Neggs for Easter, candy and chocolate for Valentine's Day or the Chocolate Ball). Maybe try writing a resturant review (like of Kelp in Maraqua, or Exquisite Ambrosia in Altador). You could even ask on the Neoboards what Neopian foods and drinks other players have always wanted to try! Remember that you can also submit recipes to the NT.

Gourmet feeding and Kad (Kadoatie) feeding are both particularly popular subjects, so my suggestion would be to try something different or go for a fresh, original angle.

NeoHome and NeoGarden

Write about your favourite furniture or plants, a guide on decorating for a certain season or holiday, or even turning your neohome or garden into a shrine for your favourite species or Neopian character. You could focus on a particular group of furniture, such as sofas or lamps, or concentrate on the furniture from a specific land, such as Faerie Furniture.

Neopets species and Petpets

This is obviously quite a broad subject, so here are some general suggestions. When writing an article for a pet day (like Tonu Day) the two most common subjects are pet colours and items. We`ll get back to paint brush colours in a moment, so I`ll just mention that lists of items relating to a certain species of Neopet or petpet are quite common, but also very fun to write! They can be varied in different ways, you could pick one item from various categories for a broader and more eclectic selection, or narrow it down, such as "the best toys and treats for Ixi Day." Otherwise articles on Neopet care, Neopian characters of a certain species (famous Neopians) are also common topics for pet day articles.

    When it comes to petpets, you could write about petpet supplies, such as the basic equipment that should be in place before your Neopet takes their petpet home. This can be varied based on the native region of the petpet too. A Maraquan petpet would obviously have other needs than a Desert petpet.

Paint Brush Colours

My first suggestion is to pick a paint brush colour, rather than focus on one Neopet species and their various colours. This allows for more variation, it`s more fun to write about different species and compare how they look in the same colour. For one of my articles, I chose to spotlight the Pirate Paint Brush, but kept the focus to those Neopets who looked like Captains rather than regular crew. In a Christmas article, I listed my favourite Christmas Neopets, along with two petpets for each that matched their colour scheme or theme.

Other suggestions: Write about colours you feel are forgotten or underrated. You could spotlight certain Neopets you feel look amazing in these colours and should get more attention. Highlight unique Neopets that stand out from the others of the same colour. Look at how different Spotted Lupe and Koi are compared to other Spotted pets, or how Meerca and Ruki stand out amongst the Striped ones.

Conduct polls on the Neobards and ask your fellow players opinions on colour/species combos, such as which Baby pets are most popular or which are most underrated. This can also be combined in an article where you list the top five Baby Neopets based on votes and your own personal picks for those that are underrated.

Many long-time players on Neo miss the old artwork and how the pets used to look, and if you want to focus on the old/UC art, that`s up to you. Personally, I think writing about paint brush colours is a perfect way to show appreciation for the new artstyle.

Like most subject matters on Neopets, paint brush colours is a topic that can be varied in countless ways, just use your imagination!

In general, it`s best to try and avoid writing about very common/overused topics. Lists of Neopet colours for example are very common, and writing about it doesn`t mean it won`t get accepted, but I`d suggest a different or more original angle to the topic. Be creative and think outside the box!

Other ideas and suggestions for the article category

Reviews

Neopia doesn`t have movies, but you can write reviews of restaurants, concerts, books, etc. There are several places to dine out across Neopia, such as Kelp or The Golden Dubloon, imagine yourself as food critic traveling Neopia and sampling the various dishes they have to offer.

If music is your thing, why not focus on some of Neopias bands? From Twisted Roses to Jazzmosis, there are bands to suit most tastes in music. Picture yourself as a music reviewer traveling to Tyrannia to attend the best concerts. Dig up any information you can about the different bands, or look up merchandise and wearables related to them if you want to write about how fans can adapt the look and style of their favourite music group.

Neopia also has a music shop in Neopia Central, why not write about instruments?

If you love reading, there are hundreds upon hundreds of books available. Most offer only a very brief description of the plot, but there are so many different kinds of Neopian book, you can make a list or write reviews on any category, from books for early readers, to guides on gardening to mystery novels. Creative/artistic license comes largely into play here. This is an example of what I wrote about the Wocky Hide And Seek Book: "Inside the book are painted illustrations inspired by various places in Neopia. Each scene spans two pages and has several flaps your Neopet can pull or lift in order to find a Wocky hiding in each scene." When writing about the contents of Neopian books, you`re mostly free to make things up, just make sure you don`t ignore or contradict the books description!

Interviews

You can put yourself in a journalists shoes and interview your favourite Neopian characters or make up a background story for new or lesser known characters. Some characters, such as the faeries Jhudora, Illusen and Fyora have their own days marked on the Neopian calendar, and so interviews with them generally have a better chance of getting published if submitted for their special day. Remember that research is key! Work in as much facts about the character or Neopet as you can, but don`t forget to also be creative.

Editorial

Write your own editorial posing as your own favourite Neopian character, such as Hanso or Vira. Try to channel the voice of that particular character, how do you think they would express themselves and react to certain questions?

Quizzes

The two most common types of Neopian quiz are personality and trivia. Personality quizzes ask a string of questions such as how you would react in given situations, or what you would rather be doing on your day off. The results given could be different species of Neopets, or various Neopian characters, both heroes and villains.

Trivia quizzes are themed around Neopian lore and history, such as "What species is the Emperor of Shenkuu?" or "Where is the Hidden Tower?" You can ask all kinds of questions and really put your fellow players knowledge of Neopia to the test.

Now that you`ve decided what to write about, here are a few tips on how to make sure you submit a good, solid entry and so increase your chances of getting published.

Check Spelling And Grammar.

This is very important, as too many errors in spelling and/or grammar will cause your entry to be rejected. Make sure to run a spellcheck in your writing program, and if there still are errors, you`ll see them underlined in red when you paste the text into the NT submission form, meaning you have a last chance to correct any mistakes.

Meet the Minimum Word Requirement.

In order for your article to not get rejected on the basis of being too short, you have to ensure it`s a minimum of 1,000 (one thousand) words. That may seem like a daunting number, but trust me, when you`re writing about something you enjoy (such as your favourite Neopets species) the words will come flowing and you`ll meet the requirement with no difficulty. On certain subjects there may be less to say/write about, and so you`ll need to flesh out the article, but do your best to be creative and fresh in your writing and not repeat yourself too much.

The minimum word count of one thousand words also applies to interviews or quizzes.

Follow The Rules!

There are certain things that are not allowed in the Neopian Times. I won`t compile a list here, but suggest you look it up on JellyNeo so your entry won`t get rejected due to mentioning something that isn`t accepted.

Do Research And Check Your Facts!

This is a very important point to make. When writing articles or stories, a certain creative/artistic license is perfectly allowed, but you can not contradict known Neopian history or lore. Meaning that although you can freely elaborate on a subject, you can`t write things that go against known facts. So make sure you do thorough research on the subject you want to write about!

Get A Beta.

A beta is someone that looks over your entry, points out/corrects mistakes in spelling and grammar or suggests changes to make your article better. I strongly discourage posting articles and other NT entries on a petpage for people to view before submitting, as you risk your work getting stolen. The best way is to get a friend or family member to help you, preferably someone who plays Neopets too, so they`ll know what the article is really about.

Get A Collaborator.

You`ve probably noticed entries in the NT that were written by two people. If you`re not a confident writer yourself, working together is a great way to add another entry to your NT trophy – or even get your first entry published! Two heads are better than one, right? You`ll both receive prizes (if applicable for the issue you`re published in) and the trophy (or added number to your trophy) but you have to add the username of your collaborator in the field on the submission form where you write remarks about your entry. This way the editor will know who to award the prize/trophy to.

English Is Not My Native Tongue!

English is not my first language, but believe me when I say that practice makes perfect. Any experience you have with writing texts in English is helpful, and remember that writing articles (or lists or quizzes, etc) for the NT doesn`t have to be technically impressive or serious. The most important thing is creativity and enjoyment.

Keep a dictionary close by so you can look up words when you get stuck.

Read. Read more, and then keep on reading! Reading in English is immensely helpful when it comes to expanding your vocabulary and getting a better handle of the language. Reading different kinds of texts, such as comics, short stories, reviews, news articles and so forth is very useful as it helps you learn the flow and rhythm of different writing styles, which you can then apply to your own article. Be yourself when writing, state your own opinions and draw from your own experiences without worrying too much about sounding like a professional author. Reading the Neopian Times is of course the best tip of all, as it helps you get a feel of how Neopian articles, interviews and such are built up.

Adding Images To Your Article.

This is especially important when writing a list of some kind, it`s always best to include the pictures of the items you`re writing about. Find the picture you`d like to add, right-click on it and select Copy Image Location (or Copy Image URL) find the place in the text where you`d like the image placed, and press Ctrl + V to paste it in. The editor will add the image to your article for you!

Now that you`ve finished your piece, corrected errors, added your desired images and are overall satisfied with your work, it`s time to submit and wait for an automatic Neomail from TNT telling you if your submission is being held over, or if it was rejected.

Your submission being held over is basically the same as an acceptance letter. I`ve never had an entry rejected later after receiving a held over Neomail. If you get a message like this, you can expect to see your work in print soon, congratulations!

Reasons For Rejection

Below I have listed the most common reasons for why your entry may have been rejected.

Too Many Good Entries This Week.

This is the standard type of rejection letter, and one you`re bound to receive at some point during your climb to the top of the NT Star ladder. But don`t despair! This message doesn`t mean that your article was bad, you can try to submit it again later, and perhaps look it over again and see if you want to change anything. However, if you submitted an entry for a specific day/issue, it may be less likely to get published in a new, upcoming issue. This does however depend on the subject matter. Articles about a certain Neopet species are typically best suited to submit around their pet day. For instance, I submitted an article about petpets from across Neopia for the Petpet Appreciation Day issue. It didn`t get in, but I submitted it again a few weeks later, at which point it got published. Try submitting again, and good luck!

Piece Contains Unacceptable Subjects.

As I mentioned earlier on in the article, there are several things you`re not allowed to write about or mention when writing for the Neopian Times. Consult guides on official fansites for the complete list.

Too Many Errors In Spelling And Grammar.

If you`ve made sure to run the spellcheck in your writing program or have someone look over your entry, this type of rejection letter is unlikely to land in your Neomail Inbox.

Too Unoriginal.

If the subject you`ve written about has many other pieces published already, you might get rejected with this message encouraging you to pick a different subject matter.

The Neopian Times newspaper has been around for many years, and though Neopia is a wide and complex world, certain subjects have been done to death, and so it`s important to try and be creative, fresh and come up with new, exciting ideas. I hope you have found some inspiration in this guide, and that you will reach your desired number of published pieces soon! Best of luck to you, and I look forward to reading your work.

 
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