WRITING FOR THE NEOPIAN TIMES – A GUIDE
If you want to be a reputable writer in Neopia, you must understand the mechanics behind the Neopian Times. My guide is divided in two parts: in the first one, I’ll describe a very useful writing method and in the second part, I’ll explain how to deal with TNT’s feedback after submitting your paper. Shall we get started then?
1. WRITING – AN EXERCISE OF PATIENCE
Writing well is definitely not easy. In order to create a good article, you will have to dedicate time to it. Don’t think you’ll be able to write something worth publishing in just a few minutes. It simply won’t be possible. Check out my five-steps writing method below for some tips.
The word you should keep in mind when writing is “focus.” In order to create material to submit, your mind must be fully committed to the job. You don’t want to be distracted by the TV or anything similar. Note that I’m not saying you must go a place with absolute silence to write. Every person is a different individual and there’s no way to tell if you’ll work better in a quiet room or while listening to hard rock. That’s up to you to tell. My point is this: eliminate ANYTHING that could possibly distract you. Creativity sometimes just doesn’t kick in, so you have to make the circumstances you write in as favorable as possible. Do whatever suits you best: drink water, get a soft pillow, put some music on - the options are endless. Just be comfortable and make sure you’re able to focus.
Now that you’re ready to write something, you need to figure out what this “something” is going to be. Picking a theme for your submission has huge relevance, since it will define the limits of what you can talk about. You must be original and, believe me, being original is VERY, VERY HARD. Neopets is a site that have existed for more than 15 years and people have talked about of all sorts of subjects. Don't think you're the first person that has ever thought of writing a Meerca Chase guide. There are plenty of those already published. So how can you be creative? There are two solutions for this. First, you can explore a new aspect of an old subject. For instance, if you want to write a Meerca Chase guide (old subject) you might explain to people how playing this game in full screen mode can help improve their score (new aspect). Secondly, you can talk about something that is happening at the moment or has happened recently and therefor never been talked about. Have any events happened lately? Talk about it. Did TNT said something interesting in the news feature? Talk about it!! The disadvantage of this last technique is that you must be fast, since time is against you. You don’t want to submit an article about an ongoing event after it ends, right?
After establishing your theme, you must learn as much as possible about it. You want to know every detail that you can so you can develop a personal opinion on the subject. I suggest conducting research from multiple sources so you don’t have access to only one type of information. Go to JellyNeo, SunnyNeo, or whichever fan site you like best to learn more. Sometimes you can even use the own Neopets site to get information about certain themes. In other occasions, it can also be a good idea to ask directly to other Neopians if you need opinions to base your submission.
A draft is the very first version of your text. Don’t overthink what you’re going to write when you create it. Just do it. Write everything you know about the theme freely and afterwards, you can cut the bad passages and edit the good ones to make them even better. In this step, you must worry about the content, not format. You can change structural issues later. The primary thing to focus on is translating all of your thoughts into words. Let’s illustrate this idea using a metaphor. Your draft, initially, should be like rough diamond: it has great value, but its full potential hasn’t been unleashed yet. Only when you’re finally finished with your draft should it be fully organized, looking like a cut diamond.
By now your text is almost complete — all that’s left is one final step. You have to reread your article several times in order to find stuff to improve. Don’t do it all at once. Take a break of a few hours and then come back to read your text. I’m sure you will notice mistakes that you haven’t before. You could even ask a friend to read your article for you and give you some feedback. You might think what you’ve written is perfect (we humans have a tendency to love our creations beyond reason), but someone else might have a different opinion. Let them share it with you so you can improve your text to the best of your abilities.
2. TNT’S FEEDBACK
After your article is complete, you must submit it to the Neopian Times. Make sure your material matches all of their requirements, like the minimum number of words rule and the no plagiarism rule, etc. A week or two after you’ve submitted your article, TNT will send you a Neomail regarding its future. Now we’re going to learn how to properly interpret those replies. Check below.
That’s what you should aim for. If your submission goes through, it means everything is alright: you have a well-written text, good punctuation, original ideas and content that is not against the rules. There’s not much to say here other than “congratulations.”
2.2 Held Over
This means your submission is good, but for various reasons, it won’t be in the Neopian Times’ next edition. However, TNT will take a further look and consider it for future editions. Note that I said CONSIDER. It’s not guaranteed your submission will be approved later, even though generally this response means that you will be published sometime in the future. When a submission is held over, it usually takes a few weeks before you hear back from TNT. That being said, you will get two Neomails from TNT. One will tell you your submission is being held for further analysis and the other will tell whether you have been accepted or not.
It’s sad. You want to avoid this response at all costs. No one likes being told that something they worked on is not good enough, right? Right! But at least we can make the most of it. Don’t just give up because your submission didn’t make it in the first time. Instead, read the rejection Neomail carefully. There TNT will specifically say the reason you weren’t accepted. Sometimes, you have too many grammar mistakes (I know how it feels, I’ve been there before *comprehensive face*). You just need to review your text. In other cases, generally with stories or continued stories, you could be rejected because you’ve broken site rules. For instance, your story might be absolutely exciting and entertaining, but it could also accidentally contain violence that is too explicit. In this case, your material is “good,” but you need to adapt your theme to contain less violence. So ultimately, my tip about rejections Neomails is this: find out the reason why you weren’t accepted and make your submission better is that particular aspect.
Well, that’s all for now. Hope this guide somehow helps you (And me! If you’re reading this that means I’ve been published on Neopian Times for the 8th time). Good luck and happy writing!