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CardShark Content - Beatdown Bedford Crenshaw (4/7/2005)

[Editor's note: Due to an oops on my account or a technical difficulty, the forum link has either disappeared or was never there in the first place. If you'd like to discuss this article, go here:
http://ccncomics.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=885]


In a Magic-related Yahoo group I am a moderator for, one of the most esteemed members of the group complained that Magic articles these days being nothing but “dribble”. He found faults with all websites that feature articles, whether the writing is done by semi-professional writers or by amateurs who may or may not be paid. While I think he was being a bit cranky, he had a few points. After reading an article that had a few problems, I decided to help you out in writing better articles. There was once a great writer by the name of Theron Martin who wrote an excellent article about how to write articles. Sadly, the website he wrote for is no more, so his articles have all gone bye-bye, including his article on writing. I hope these will help you.

1) CHOOSE YOUR WORD PROCESSOR WELL: I use MS Word, but saving the article as a webpage. This saves on disk space and prevents Word from adding a bunch of extra crap to the article. It also helps to have Spellcheck and leave out any “leetspeak”. A sentence that reads like this:

“Pngns R SvG tCh”

will (and SHOULD) be ignored, no matter how enlightening it would otherwise be.

2) MAKE SURE YOU KNOW YOUR TOPIC: I am not a control player; therefore, I know better than write an article critiquing a control deck. If you are writing about a deck, make sure you have played that deck many times before you post. For example, I am currently testing a RDW deck that uses Crack the Earth
Crack the Earth
Crack the EarthSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
98
Artist:
Wayne Reynolds
Text:
Each player sacrifices a permanent.
and Spark Elemental
Spark Elemental
Spark ElementalSet: Fifth Dawn
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Sub Type:
Elemental
Rarity:
C
Number:
79
Artist:
John Avon
Power:
3
Toughness:
1
Text:
Trample. At the end of turn, sacrifice Spark Elemental.
. So far it works well, but as I have only played it 5-6 times, I don’t have enough to go on to advocate the deck. If you advocate a deck, be sure to have played it 50 times or more against a variety of deck types and opponents. If a deck is speculative (like the decks I made in my series “Rodney Dangerfields”) than say so, and don’t pretend it’s a killer.

3) MAKE A CATCHY TITLE: People do choose a book by its cover, which means for on-line articles the title. If it’s a hum-drum title, then people will think it’s a hum-drum article and will skip it. Note that instead of calling my Betrayers articles “_____
_____
_____Set: Unhinged
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Shapeshifter
Rarity:
U
Number:
23
Artist:
Ron Spears
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
1: This card’s name becomes the name of your choice. Play this ability anywhere, anytime.
in Betrayers”, I called them “Gaijin Green”, “Samurai Sligh”, “Kabuki Blue”, “Wu Jen White”, and “Bushido Black”. If you title doesn’t totally describe your article, than do a short summary in the subtitle.

4) UNLESS YOU FINISHED THE SWISS, DO NOT WRITE A TOURNEY REPORT: I used to write for the Magic Dojo back in the day. In a way, I’m glad its gone because of many of the articles I wrote for it. I would only play 2-3 rounds, dropping out after losing twice. I had nothing really to contribute, so I gained nothing for writing them and hurt my reputation for playing Magic. In Louisville (my old playing area) I may have been Triple H, and around Kentucky and Indiana been seen as RVD, elsewhere I was viewed like a cruiserweight jobber. In fact, unless you made the top 8, the only reason to write is if the tourney style is underreported. The only times in the past 3-4 years I have written tourney reports in which I did not make Top 8 was a Onslaught
Onslaught
OnslaughtSet: Exodus
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
C
Number:
92
Artist:
Paolo Parente
Text:
Whenever you successfully cast a creature spell, tap target creature.
Team Limited and a Onslaught
Onslaught
OnslaughtSet: Exodus
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
C
Number:
92
Artist:
Paolo Parente
Text:
Whenever you successfully cast a creature spell, tap target creature.
Block Constructed, and these were written because there hadn’t been any tourney reports yet for these formats.

5) THINK TWICE BEFORE ADDING PERSONAL DETAILS: Jamie Wakefield is widely regarded as the best tourney report writer ever. He had an excellent ability to make his reports like journal entries. Many, including myself, have tried to emulate this. However, most do not have the ability to make their personal lives interesting enough to make their readers actually want to read the articles; they are just there to gain strategy. Unless something EXTREMELY amusing happened, like someone dressed up as a policeman holding up a Dunkin’ Donuts, its best to keep the personal details short and sweet.

6) TAKE GOOD NOTES: Trust me; you will not remember everything that happened during a match if you don’t write it down. Don’t just say:

“I won game 1, he won game 2, and we timed out of game 3.”

Tell the reader why. Was there an interesting situation that occurred? Did you need certain cards to win with? Readers want to know these things.

7) DON’T MAKE THE ARTICLE SEEM TO BE MORE THAN WHAT IT IS: If your article is not comprehensive, then don’t say it is. If you write an article that claims to look at all the echo creatures, then it had better look at ALL of them, or else you say you are looking at a subset of echo cards.

8) ASK YOURSELF WHY ANYONE WOULD READ YOUR ARTICLE: If you can’t think of a reason, best not to write it.

9) LEARN TO SELF-EDIT: I’m guilty of this; I can not self-edit my own work. I am always finding typos in my work. It helps to read your articles out loud before you submit them.

[Editor's note: Bedford said I could add in a #10. So here it is. Everything else is his.]

10) GO IN DEPTH: Don't just write a quick introduction paragraph, a decklist, and a short description. No one wants to read that. Readers want to know more. Why did you use this? Why wouldn't you use this? What good does this do? Discuss the cards, the card interactions. Write about things they might miss, like interesting card interactions that you've noticed. Use personal experience with the deck to show just how well it works. Throw out some deeper strategy that might not be apparent at first glance. Remember, more information is ALWAYS better than not enough. If you ever worry that an article is too long, stop worrying. The longer an article is (so long as it maintains focus), the more information included, and the better the article is.


I hope these tips will help you write better articles. In the mean while, have fun both playing and writing about Magic.


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