Writing Right with Dmitri: A Call to Arms
Dear h2g2 Researcher:
You want to help h2g2 grow, right? Of course you do. A good way to do that would be to write a Guide Entry. You have every good intention of using your next free afternoon to do just that.
At this point, your brain has just shut down.
Why? Because you don't know what to write about. O-kay…I'm here to help. Here's what you should do.
Decide on a Format
Make a commitment here. Do you want to write:
- A story about an historical event?
- A description of a process, a 'how-to' article?
- A recipe?
- Some travel info, or a description of a locality?
- A bio?
All of those are good. Pick one. Proceed to the next step.
Search the Guide
Check to see what, if anything, is already available on your topic in the Edited Guide. You can:
- Use it for background.
- Collect links.
- Decide to update an Entry.
- Gather ideas for variations on this information.
Remember to check the Flea Market, too. There might be an unfinished Entry on your topic that you can complete. Once you've got your topic and background, proceed to the next step.
Do Some Research
Stop groaning, lazy. The whole internet is there. Vet your sources. Check out Stalking the Wild Factoid - A Primer on Internet Sources if you want help. Remember to save your notes for bibliography or 'further reading'.
When you've got the info together, proceed to the next step.
Write Your Entry
Remember to do the following:
- Start with a good hook. Don't assume people know what you know: why this is an interesting topic. Reel them in.
- Use headers to organise. See what I'm doing? Do that.
- Keep it brief. Stick to the topic. Don't assume people will keep reading past the 1000-word mark. They won't, unless it's really interesting. Then they might read to a whole 1500 words. Beyond that, you've almost certainly lost them. Don't delude yourself: no matter what your mom said, you're not that riveting.
- Proofread, reread, check sources. Make sure you're all shipshape and Bristol fashion.
- Submit. Put it in Peer Review. Write a nice note to the PR readers, explaining briefly why you thought this was interesting. Be polite, they are going to help you now.
- Hang around and respond to suggestions. DO SOMETHING ABOUT THEM. Don't spend all the PR space explaining why you 'had' to write it that way. Tweak and improve.
What You Will Have Accomplished
These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.
Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, 1776.
For 'country', read 'beloved website'.
Thank you in advance. Now, get to work.