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How to Write a "How to..." Article


by wigglyfish

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No matter what time of year it is, you can always count on a “how-to” article to appear in the Neopian Times. These handy articles provide helpful advice on anything in Neopia, from winning at near-impossible-to-win competitions (oh Story Telling trophy, how you have eluded me) to winning at the Battledome. These articles are amazing because not only are they fun to write, but they benefit Neopia as a whole, and who doesn’t like helping people?

Now, the question is, “How do I write one?” Everyone loves helping Neopia, but what if you don’t know where to begin on your how-to article? With my five handy steps, I will send you well on your way to helping Neopia and earning those lovely trophies.

Step 1: What are your talents? It wouldn’t be very fitting to write an article for something that you are not good at. If you view my user lookup, you will note that it lacks a Caption Contest trophy. Therefore, it would make no sense whatsoever for me to write “How to Win at the Caption Contest.” Since I am clearly not caption-writing material, I am sure that my advice would be quite useless, and isn’t it our goal to help people out? It doesn’t matter what your article is about, so long as you are knowledgeable about the topic and your advice is sound. Do you have several million Neopoints stashed away in your Ultimate Riches bank account? Maybe you could write an article about how to earn Neopoints! Is your shop a bustling, large-sized business full of customers? Why not write about how to make a successful shop, through careful pricing and the art of restocking? Remember: it is not about the topic, but about your knowledge of said topic.

Step 2: What is your advice? In the previous step, I stated that it is all about your knowledge of the topic. Make sure that your expertise is something that can be transferred. Let’s say that every time you spin the Wheel of Excitement, it lands on the “10,000” slot. And not only that, King Skarl cracks up at every sentence you utter, King Hagan believes you to be a genius, and your scratchcards always earn you the jackpot. Now, I’m sure that everyone would love to be you and have your abilities, but these abilities are not something that can be taught. While you are quite successful, these wins do not come from strategy but from pure luck. You’re quite lucky, but luck is not something that can be taught; it is just bestowed upon the blessed few.

Step 3: Let’s make our article amazing! Since you have amazing advice that would change Neopia as we know it, how about you write an article about this? But it’s not just about advice. Presentation is key.

Let’s make an analogy. Let’s say you have amazing ideas, and you enter the Story Telling contest. You dash off an entry with great plot twists and ideas. But when you check again the next day, someone else has won! You check their story. It’s not nearly as deep or creative as yours, but look at that! They used richer language and fancier sentence structures, giving the façade of being deeper than it really was.

For those who are still with me, let’s sum that up. You can have amazing ideas, but if you dash off a boring article, nobody is going to want to read it! Therefore, add a few personal touches to your article. You can throw in humor, or you can throw in sweetness, or you can throw in satire. If you don’t think that you have the chops for that, who cares? Try anyway! If you want to be published, then have fun with it and don’t worry about sounding foolish. I, personally, would much rather read a wacky article than a simple one. However, this is optional. I have read articles that gave very good advice without being crazy about it. It’s all up to you. (Although if it were up to me, I would make it crazy.)

Step 4: Those meanies at the Neopian Times never publish my articles! I know, this is very hard. I’ve received my fair share of rejections, and one of my attempts was so bizarre that a new section was added to the Help section’s “Tips for Getting Your Submission into the Neopian Times.” (I’m not positive that it was because of me, but the timing was the same and I like to think I’m that special.)

Who cares if your article isn’t published? As far as I’m concerned, any topic is fair game, except for ones involving immoral behavior. This article? Maybe it won’t be published. Maybe Neopians don’t need advice on how to write a How-To article. But as far as I’m concerned, I have ideas to share. If you think that your advice is sound, then keep trying. If it’s not published, go through your article, revise it, add things to it, subtract things, do whatever you think that you need to do, and then submit it. If your advice is genuine, then it will almost definitely end up published soon enough.

Step 5: Try not to deviate from the topic. You see what I just did? I went from giving advice on how to write a “how-to” article to giving a sappy speech on not giving up. That right there? That’s bad. Very bad indeed. If you were writing an article on the Beauty Contest and randomly started talking about Krawks and what a shame it is that they’re so hard to come by (that’s not a hint at all), then not only would you be changing topics, but you would be confusing your readers. And that, my friend, is a very big no-no. You can write about anything you want, as long as you keep writing about it and don’t confuse readers. I totally did that topic-deviating thing on purpose by the way. Uh-huh! Yeah! It was for the purpose of my article? What do you mean?

I would like to point out that these are not the only steps. There are no doubt infinite other things that could help you write these articles. But as far as I’m concerned, these are the five main things that can help you along the road to being a published author, and, more importantly, helping others. And isn’t that what life is all about?

 
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