On Writing

Ten suggestions on how to write a better article for Rertojunk.com
August 23, 2007
In March 2006, I was doing a web search for some of my favorite 80's cartoons intro music. It was during this search I first encountered Retrojunk.com. Immediately, I was drawn to the articles within its web pages on past cartoons, music, movies, etc. I remember myself thinking, wow, there are people out there who enjoy this stuff as much as I do. Eventually, after reading several articles on the site, I finally decided to submit an article of my very own.

Me like site. Me, Knites, write own article. Type with fist!

However, I did not do this lightly. A poorly written piece would not only advertise me as an idiot in the eyes of the Retrojunk readers I wanted to please, it would also show a complete disrespect for said readers and the site of which I had become fond. I strongly believe good writing takes more than just time; it wants your best moments and the best of you. And I believe, despite the fact their topics may be trivial to some, Retrojunk articles deserve no less attention.

Now that we've each written an article for him, Knites will have to do his own work.

Now, twelve articles later, I have decided to share some of the things I have learned about writing for this site, which have helped my articles be well received. Now, to be clear, I do not write works of literary genius, Far from it. I am just hoping future article writers will read this piece and give their work that little extra bit of care from which all Retrojunk readers will benefit.

Some wisdom for you, I have.

To this end, I have examined the "Back Pages" and some front page articles and compiled a list of ten suggestions for writing a Retrojunk article.

Note: All positive (+) and negative (-) article scores below were accurate as of August 22, 2007. The suggestions below are in no particular order and all quotations are direct "cut and pastes" from the articles examined.

1> Make Sure An Article Always Has Pictures

You have fallen for the classic blunder of not including pictures in you Retrojunk article. A little word of advice, no matter how well written you article may be, if it does not include pictures it will not get a positive response.--from the Comment Section of the Back Pages article "Welcome to Camp Melody", Article Score -8.

A big bunch of text and no pics... As attractive as cheese melting in the microwave...--from the Comment Section of the Back Pages article "New Age T.V. Crap" Article Score -8

I forgot the film again. Mr. Kent is so gonna kick my ass!.

It seems almost nothing gets an article sent to the back pages faster than a low amount or complete absence of pictures. Now, some may say an article does not need pictures if it is written well. And this was the case for the article "Sega vs, Nintendo" on this site. However, this is an extremely rare situation. Most often, if a Retrojunk reader does not see a good picture to text ratio in an article, they will give the piece a "thumbs down" without reading it completely. A picture is not worth exactly a thousand words on this site, but it goes a long way to making an article more pleasurable to peruse.

2> Keep Profanity Use To A Minimum

Ok your gonna say "How the fuck is he going to get some dirt on Tiny Toons?.... if you want to see more fucked up shit go onEE ---from Back Pages article "Fun with cartoons" article text, Article Score -14.

You got a fraggin' problem with how I write?

Profanity has its place in writing, even Retrojunk articles. However, if profanity is used excessively in an article, its innately harsh nature it will not only make a writer seem to be on the same intellectual level as caveman feces, but also distract the reader from the topic. This is especially true if the profanity is simply there to make up for a writer's laziness in using appropriate adjectives and nouns.

3> Do Your Best To Use Appropriate Spelling and Grammar

Here are a couple of interesting article quotations:

Well thats it for the overlooked heores of marvel. if you liked it ill considermaking a part two theres a lot more heroes that need love to. (and dont complain if my spelling isnt perfect give me a breack)E --from the article text of "The Overlooked Heroes of Marvel" Article Score +6.

The invinclible*iron man *=on almost all of his comic book covers it shows him gettong his ass handed to him, nonthe less he always comes out on top at the end. as billionair industriolest(i just botched the spelling of that)he made the coolest costume ever!E--from the text of Back Pages article "My Favorite SuperheroesE Article Score -5.

I'm the Vice-President and I say potato is spelled with an "e"

Now, to be clear, I am not advocating spelling and grammar perfection in articles (To be honest, I do not care about them at all in the article comment sections and discussion forums). A typo or two or three in an article is something of which I am a guilty of in almost every one of my pieces (probably this one too ;-) ). However, many would agree the errors in the above quotations are clearly excessive and therefore distracting. The results of poor spelling and grammar on an article are (1) the article is difficult to read and enjoy; (2) the article's comment section is littered or overwhelmed with comments on poor spelling and grammar; (3) the readers possibly form a poor opinion of the writer and a hesitancy to read or a more intense scrutiny on any future works the writer may submit. An article writer should proofread, edit, and preview their article a few times before posting. It can only make the piece stronger.

4> Make Sure Your Topic Is "Retro" Enough

Nothing to do with retro stuff at all. Someone please delete this piece of shit article.

Hmmm,This doesn't have anything to do with the nostalgic premise of this site.

-- Comments from the Comment Section of the Back Pages Article "Fox Scare" Article Score -7

This "Retro" enough for you?

Most Retrojunk Readers are looking for articles which remind them of their past--TV shows, books, toys, movies, music, etc. In short, they want nostalgia. When sitting down to write a Retrojunk article, a writer should seriously think about whether their topic tickles the memory or not. Current events or creative pieces are fine as long as they tie strongly to something the readers remember fondly from their past. Remember writers, no trip down memory lane for the reader often results in a very low score and a"Back Pages" position for an article.

5> Avoid Low Content & Poor Research

Matlock is a long-running American television legal drama. The format of the show was very similar to that of Perry Mason, with Matlock figuring out who the murderer was and then confronting him or her in a dramatic courtroom scene near the end." --From the Back Pages article "Top Fav Shows (4)E Article Score -5

I hate bare-bones articles!

The above quotation is from a four-article series giving information on the writer's top fifty favorite shows. The author writes nothing further about the show after this comment and almost always maintains this short summary style for each of the fifty TV shows he mentions. Three of the four parts of this series have ended up on the "Back Pages". Why? Well, while the articles do contain many shows regular readers on the site know and love, the writer gave no more information on them than what one might find in a thin television-listing periodical. Where is the interesting information? Where is the trivia? How about an example of one of the dramatic scenes? What this writer and several other "Back Pages" article writers do is tell readers very little they do not already know. There is no joy of detail or discovery in their pieces.

Me fight for misinformation, laziness, and the ignorant way!

Another problem is lack of research. Here is a prime example from the article text and comment section of the Back Pages Article "The Decline of Teletoon", Article Score -4. When discussing the decline of Teletoon, a Canadian TV animation channel, the author of the piece wrote this opinion with no support:

So what exactly happened to Teletoon? I think that with the budget that it first started out with they could get all of the cartoons that I remember as a kid. But as time went on and on I think they just started getting lazy and as time progressed they felt that they needed to appeal to the lowest common denominator, which is 0, in order to appeal to the populace of adults who still spend their time watching cartoons.

Shortly after the articles posting date, a person in the comment section wrote the correct appropriately researched reason for Teletoon's decline:

When Teletoon first launched in 1997, it had several time blocks devoted to certain content and showed more mature fare as the day progressed, with a strong commitment to air diverse and international programming, as well as the ability to air a great majority of material uncut. A typical broadcast day would start with preschool content at 7:00 a.m. and end with adult content after midnight, airing more adult cartoons such as Aeon Flux, Duckman and various Original Video Animation.
'Unfortunately, Teletoon had an incident during their first year when they accidentally broadcast adult content, including cartoon nudity, during a time normally devoted to preschoolers (thus outside of Watershed). The backlash from the government and parental groups resulted in Teletoon cutting back on almost all programming aimed at teens and adults, alienating those viewers. Teletoon is trying to regain that demographic, starting with the creation of the time block The Detour on Teletoon. Its newest programming block, presenting shows for adults and teenagers. The Detour on Teletoon includes: 12 oz. Mouse, Angry Kid, Bromwell High, Squidbillies, Stroker and Hoop, Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Tripping the Rift, Venture Bros, Robot Chicken, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Family Guy, and Futurama

The article ended up on the "Back Pages" shortly afterwards.

Get out of here until you do some research!

Conjecture is a welcome and thought-provoking element in an article when research has failed. However unsubstantial opinions, especially when they are the backbone of an article and so easily proven incorrect by the readers, can take a Retrojunk article to the "Back Pages" very quickly. It is a wise idea to research a topic well before writing. Then, make sure this research is evident in a finished article. Otherwise, readers will judge the article writer as, at the very least, a bit careless or, at the very most, a lazy fool.

6> Always Have Some Background Information/Explanation For Readers New To Your Topic

Here is the opening paragraph from "Nick Rewind: A History", Article Score +7

Before it was named Nick Rewind, we all used to call it Classic Nick and some still do. It started with the website Classic Nick.com, but then the website was removed by Viacom (that's what I heard). The name Nick Rewind started out with Nick Rewind DVDs such as Clarissa explains it all and The Adventures of Pete and Pete.

You know, I have no idea what I just read about either.

Now, if a reader is familiar with "Nick Rewind" and "Clarissa" this should make some sense to him. However, what if the reader is not? There were pictures in this article which could lead a reader unfamiliar with this topic to think "Nick Rewind" was some kind of TV show, DVD, or station time slot, but he can never certain as he is given almost no text to cure his ignorance for the remainder of the article--an odd state to leave a reader for an article claiming to be "A History". A little background information and explanation for people unfamiliar with the topic goes a long way to helping an article quality. Additionally, good use of background information and detailed explanation invites positive feedback from a wider group of readers than just the ones who are extremely familiar with the article topic and, thus, the article may receive a higher score.

7> Make Sure "An Article" Is An Article And Not Something Better Suited To The Discussion Forums

What is this?????? Its a commercial!!!!!! Eat me!!!!"--from the Comment Section of the Article "Flash Gordon Returns", Article Score -6

In all my time on Retrojunk, I have never seen an article get tossed to the back pages faster than this one (less than 24 hours). This particular piece was basically an advertisement for a new Flash Gordon TV Show, not an article.

Well, I think it's supposed to be an article about me, Doctor Zarkov.

Another comment from this article's Comment Section reads:

You should have at least wrote a brief history of flash gordon. You know the original TV show, the cartoons, and the movie from the 80's....

This isn't an article! Get it to the forums right away!

Never ignore what an article on Retrojunk should be: a complete piece of writing, as a report or essay that causes people to reminisce, not a quick-point leaflet. Flash Gordon is definitely Retrojunk material. However, the writer simply gave points about a new show without any thought to what a retro-article is actually meant to be. His piece would have been something better entered and better received in the Retrojunk discussion forums.

8> Never Rant Without Reason or Respect a.k.a The Flame Article

This point is similar to the low content/research point mentioned earlier in this article. However, it has the distinguishing element of being excessively negative with zero respect for the material being examined or people who appreciate the material.

Here's what I think of the suff you like, Flame on!

An excellent example of this type of article is "Animation to Live Action 2", Article Score -17 (The lowest score on the site). Here is a quotation:

And the worst of all the Batman movies and probably one of the sorriest excuses for a movie that I've ever come across is Batman Begins. This ungodly mess stars Christan Bale as Bruce Wayne as a young man whose parents are killed in a botched robbery.

I wrote this just to piss everyone off.

The author's comment on this film ends with this quotation. He provides no further information on or support for this opinion. Instead, he goes on to rant negatively about film after film without any convincing conjecture, researched supporting facts, or respect for those who liked the movies. He follows up by not responding to any of the feedback given to his article. There were 98 responses in the article's comment section. Nearly all were negative. One of the most negative read:

Wow...do you SUCK at research and movie reviews or what? Take a freaking hint from ALL the comments and don't EVER post another article again until you get off the crack or whatever it is that you are smoking. Roadkill could write better reviews than you.

I find your lack of respect for Retrojunk Readers disturbing.

Ouch! If an article is written to simply upset people, with no effort to support the opinions within, to the back pages it will go and with a ton of negative, and not always civil, comments too.

9 > Avoid Poor Picture Placement

Why are his pictures always on the left side of the page?

Poor picture placement (as seen here) can weaken a strong article. It may not be enough to get a piece sent to the back pages. However, it can be annoying and advertises a writer's inexperience on the site like a bright yellow street sign. People apologizing for poor picture placement in their articles, rather than actually taking time to figure out how to use the picture placement utility (and article preview option) on this site, seems to be on the increase. So, to support those who would like nice centered pictures with captions in their articles, I have included the string of text necessary below. Just (1) Copy it then paste it in your next article, (2)change all the round brackets to SQUARE brackets, enter your file name and text and let your readers enjoy.

(align center)(pic picturefilename)(/align)

(align center)(text size 1)Type text here(/text)(/align)

10> Take Criticism like a Pro, Constructive or Not

Only this sucks more than your article, but just barely.

A few comment writers on this site can get pretty nasty. They reduce themselves to name calling, profanity and even racist comments. Ignore them. They need to grow up. However there are many more thoughtful comment writers on this site. An article writer will never receive empty praise from these readers. Some of them sugar-coat their criticism while others are extremely direct. These are the ones a writer should embrace because their advice will often make him a stronger writer. These comment writers care about the site and will show a writer the way to better Retrojunk article submissions. And remember, like all advice and criticism (including this article) comment writers can be acknowledged or ignored. Also, a writer should never let criticism get him down, especially words from immature comment writers . The great thing about this site is a writer can always try again no matter what anyone thinks about their work.

Knites, just tying to help out.

Well, there you have it Retrojunk-article writers and article writers to be: suggestions on how to make article submissions on this site more positive. No, I am not the owner of the site. I am mot a moderator either. And yes, I have made mistakes in my own articles and am far far far from a perfect writer. But, that said, I am a writer who loves to write and read and always gives a damn about what he sees and submits on this site. I hope you always will too.

Peace Out,

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