|Majestic: Issue #14
||Friday, November 29, 2002
By Chrispian H. Burks
I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season so far and I hope despite the hectic schedule we all find
ourselves in this time of year that you mange to squeeze in time to write.
I would like to extend a big thanks to some of our members who constantly keep me on my toes and help to
improve the site. First off is Jessica, who is also a staff member, is relentless with her questions and
suggestions and bug reports. Jessica has recently changed her role at Lit.Org from staff member to Poetry Editor!
So congrats to her.
I also need to point out some outstanding members in our community who go beyond just posting their writing to
help other writers and the staff to make Lit.Org the best it can possibly be. Those people are, Drastine, Jasmine,
Spudley, Furius, Vykacet, and many others. Lit.Org is truly the sum of it's members and I feel that's what sets our
site apart. Everyone should be very proud of what we've done here. I know I am.
This issue is all about writing for the web, which is a subject near and dear to my heart. I've always been
drawn to computers and when I discovered that I could share my thoughts and Ideas with everyone around the
world I was hooked. I've been working with computers since. It's as though the World Wide Web was created
for us, writers, to share our stories, hone our skills, and get paid to do what we love.
If you have suggestions or comments about this issue of Majestic,
discuss it in the forums!
Majestic is looking for writers! Take a look at our
Publishing Schedule and submit your articles.
By Richard Dani
So you're in college and the deadline for that big term paper is bearing down on you. What to do?
Sure, you could buckle down, do a little research and spend a few hours writing it, but that
would cut into your socializing time-Not to mention the fact that hard work is kind of boring.
Besides, why should you do all that when you can just buy a term paper on-line for as little
as fifteen dollars a page? Only suckers and nerds write there own papers these days, correct?
And if you think about it, you're paying for the college degree so why shouldn't you pay to
have the work done for you?
Everything is for sale. Or so it seems.
Well, why don't we look at the down side just for fun. First, if you're caught plagiarizing
you can be expelled from school and if you're parents are pissed when you earn an "F" just
imagine how they'll feel when they come to pick your sorry butt off of the campus's curb.
Further, most of these "purchased papers" are of sub-par quality. Just because you bought a
paper doesn't mean you'll get an "A" or even a passing grade. The original owner of "School Sucks"
used to openly admit that the quality of his papers were poor at best. I remember an interview
where he said his papers are loaded with grammatical errors and are of such low quality that only
an idiot would use them without making major revisions.
Okay, so editing a paper is much easier than writing a whole one from scratch. It certainly is.
But let's look at it from a financial point of view. At a low rate of ten dollars a page, an
eight page report is going to cost eighty dollars. Whew, most college students are going to
have to work at least eleven or twelve hours at the local quickie mart, library or fast food
joint to earn that.
The point is, if you have to work that many hours to pay for the paper, shouldn't you just
write it in the first place?
I know that not every college student can write like Hemmingway, but you don't have to. There
are plenty of services on-line that tutor students to writing reports, help them to edit papers
and even give advice for test preparation. One on-line company, Cyber Edit Inc, charges from
$25 for a 500 word essay to three hundred dollars for reports in the 8000 word range and they
usually edit your work within two days.
Not only is this more ethical and cost efficient, but if you play your cards right,
your parents might even pick up the tab.
By Ann Silberman
Want to try your hand at writing for an online publication? While the pay scale for online articles is still lower than for print magazines, the web is catching up. Many sites now pay in the hundreds for a 750 word article. Aside from money, there are other rewards to online writing. You will see your article published far sooner than in a print magazine - and the response of an editor to a query is also typically quicker. This lack of waiting allows you to come up with more ideas and publish more articles, which quickly makes up for the pay differences. Researching the publication is a much simpler matter than with a print magazine since it's right at your fingertips - no more hours at the library.
You should be aware, however, that writing for the web requires far different skills than does writing for a magazine or newspaper. Research has shown that people who read articles online are less likely to spend a lot of time reading, the way they might a magazine article. Computer screens are tiring for the eyes and they read about 25% slower than paper. Readers are typically restless and less likely to read long articles, and they are more likely to scan for keywords, or skim the article. If the information the reader is seeking isn't readily apparent, another article is just a mouse click way. Each page has to compete with thousands - even millions - of other pages with similar information.
Therefore, you have to use certain techniques to be an effective web writer:
Concise Writing: Web writing requires tightly written articles. There shouldn't be extraneous information or wordy explanations. Word count should be half of what it would be for a similar print article. Bulleted items are a good way of presenting key facts.
Style: The tone should be personal and conversational, and above all, direct and to the point. State your position immediately, then explain your reasoning later. Headlines are important, and the headline text has to stand on its own; often, a reader may choose to skip a section entirely. Break up long pieces of information by using hypertext.
Straight facts: Online readers don't want a bunch of hype, advertising or adjectives. No teasers to get readers to click somewhere else. No build up before getting to the point. Your readers want information, and they don't want to have to work for it.
Writing for the web can be very rewarding, but throw away the old rulebook. A different type of reading requires a different type of writing. When composing your first web article, remember these points, and you will be in demand.
About The Author|
Ann Silberman has published numerous articles, both online and in print. She is the webmaster of a
site for writers, AWritersLife.net, and she puts out a weekly newsletter designed to help freelance
writers earn greater success. For more information, or to subscribe to the newsletter - see the site.
Richard Lowe, Jr.
A friend and I were talking the other day about writing. He liked to write, but even so his biggest problem was finding things to write about. My friend was astounded at the volume of writing that I do - at least one article and something as many as six, per day. Where do I get all of the ideas from?
I, in turn, was astonished myself. Why on earth would anyone have any trouble finding things to write about? In fact, my main problem has been I have so much to write about that I often find myself locked in a silent battle over which subject should be put on paper first.
People find it even more amazing when I tell them I try very hard to only write about positive events and provide helpful articles. Only rarely will you find any of my writings containing criticism, complaints or, worst of all, whining. Occasionally I will write an article which recommends against purchasing a product, seeing a movie, reading a book or visiting a web site, but these are the exception.
The world is a huge, amazing, wondrous place. Things are going on around us all of the time. There is so much good to see and do all over the planet, so very many wonderful things going on all over the place, that it's easy to find something to communicate about if only you open your eyes and look.
One of my passions is the internet. I've written over 1,000 articles about all aspects of this massive communication medium. Much of this is taken from my 23 years of experience in the computer field, and the rest is from research, reading and, most of all, questions from other people.
Although much of my writing is about the internet, I also find time to communicate about many other subjects as well. These include relationships (marriage and romance), raising children, building a career, handling office politics, current events, hobbies and history. I have yet to find a subject which I don't have something useful to contribute to other people.
How do I find so much to write about? Let me tell you some of the ways: Many of my article ideas some from real life - For example, I have a long and happy marriage, so I like to write articles which help people with their relationships. I've also worked hard most of my life, as have most people, building a career, which is another area where I enjoy passing along tips to help others.
Question and answer sites - Sites like askme.com and askjeeves.com are perfect places to visit once in a while looking for ideas for articles. I visit and just scan the questions (and there are thousands of them), looking for anything which looks interesting. When I find something, I write an article.
Newsgroups - There are over 70,000 newsgroups. Most of these are worthless, but several thousand of them contain useful information and varied conversations. Lurk in any active newsgroup for a while and you should find something worthwhile to write about.
Yahoo and DMOZ - Visit any big directory site and you will find thousands of subjects to explore.
Egroups and Topica - There are thousands of email discussion lists available at these two sites. Sign up for a few and get articles ideas from them.
There are many other places to look for article ideas all over the internet. I tend to avoid looking at things like ezines, ebooks and web sites for article ideas. Why? Because when I look for article ideas I am not looking for answers.
What I tend to look for is questions. What kind of questions are people asking? Is there a question which begs some further analysis and a little more explanation than a simple sentence? It does not matter if someone else has already answered, as my primary purpose is not to provide raw information. My primary purpose is to help people understand. You can find out raw information from any number of books or encyclopedias, but finding out how to clean up the clutter in your bedroom, well, that takes something different. That requires the experience and knowledge passed from someone who has had to go through the experience of cleaning many times, so many times that it has become easy.
Interestingly, I've found that television is not as worthwhile as one would expect for article ideas. Excluding a few reviews, I've found television to be a vast wasteland, void of anything but the most trivial or violent concepts in our society. The exceptions are, of course, channels such as Nova, History channel and Discovery.
So the next time you are trying to figure out something to write about for your own ezine, web site or ebook, just check out a newsgroup, elist or directory on a subject which you find interesting. Sooner or later, you will get an idea and you can start writing.
I have compiled a list of 12 tips I think should be helpful when you are writing articles on the internet.
1. Use lots of white space. People like to read in 'chunks' of information so have lots of space in your background.
2. Use short paragraphs. Following on from tip 1 keep it short and let your visitor read little pieces of information at a time.
3. Use the occasional exclamation mark (!) to get your readers attention. But please do not over use this as many people now appear to be doing.
4. Ask a question so that your visitor will read on to find the answer. This keeps the readers attention focussed.
5. Put a lot of thought and effort into your heading. If the heading does not get the visitors attention straight away then they will just move on and not even read your article. Try 'The 7 Secrets to Successfully breeding Cane Toads' rather than 'How to breed cane toads'.
6. Use bullets to quickly outline a number of points that may be important in your article. Readers can scan through these.
7. Use numbers if this is appropriate for writing an article. For example the way I am writing this article.
8. Outline the benefits to your reader. They want to know what they can get out of reading the article so portray the benefits of what you are writing about.
9. Do not waffle. This is never more important than on the internet. People get bored quickly and there are a million other articles they could be reading instead of yours. Get to the point quickly - in the very 1ST line!
10. Target your article. Make it on one topic only and stick to the topic. Do not try to write about 2 or 3 things in the same article. Keep your focus on one topic to keep the interest of your reader.
11. Conclude with a strong message. A message that summarises your article or gets your reader to take further action.
12. Finally, be humble. People admire people who are humble. Do not talk down to your readers.
Learn as much as you can about writing on the internet. It really is different to writing in the offline world. Read as many articles as you can and see which ones you find easier to read.
Tell your Friends!|
If you know someone who might like Majesitc, feel free to forward them this copy! We've
also got a quick, easy form you can use to tell people about Lit.Org and give them
a chance to get their own copy every month! Help us out
and tell your friends!