[Editor's note: I know ordinarily something like this would be directed to the forums, but this was such a well-written response that I wanted everyone to read it. Enjoy.]
There was an interesting article recently posted on Cardshark by Bedford Crenshaw with a list of rules for writing an article. For the most part I thought the article was well written, but I have some issues with some of the rules. I think that for the most part the article was set up to have better articles, but one section seemed to scream out a limiting factor on articles, more information (if it is presented well) is always helpful in the scope of a metagame. I also added a couple things that I have noticed lacking on most sites present articles.
4) UNLESS YOU FINISHED THE SWISS, DO NOT WRITE A TOURNEY REPORT
This is the part I have the most issues with. Tournament reports are NOT only for winners. Tournament reports from people that were not in the top eight can help with the following:
1) Telling people about the local metagame as the metagame can change drastically from region to region. I personally was interested in all tourney reports from people (including the bad ones) after the affinity banning to see what was showing up. This was helped greatly by non top 8 reports
2) Showing off your tech cards that worked or did not work, I remember reading an article a few years ago, where a relatively new writer showed people his “tech” card against Trix of a cycling life gaining card that could not be countered, forcing a Trix player to go off twice (prior to red in the deck for Fire/Ice). His day was great except he ran into two Sligh decks that kept his tech cards from ruling the day.
3) Lots of tournament reports show the writers games and games around them. The best articles talk about all the games in the field that they witnessed. Why stop decent writers from reporting on the entire venue if they did not make top 8?
4) Some metagames can have drastic shifts and certain decks can not stand in the shifts. This is especially true in a relatively new metagame. Tourney reports on why your deck did not fare well can be more impressive than why your deck won as this type of report shows players why not to play cards. Most times we focus on decks that were correct under the right set of circumstances. In a defined metagame, this is true, but going into something like a Grand Prix with no byes makes you build your deck different than if you have three byes.
5) I realize your intention was to stop the 0-2 type reports, but even those reports can have some merit.
6) In limited (sealed or draft) a not so good tourney finish can show us what to do (or not to do) with a less than stellar card pool
7) If a play mistake that you made stopped you from progressing and you can be big enough to admit your mistake, you can pass on very valuable information to the masses and most likely gain you readers by showing failure and success. ( I am not a humble loser, so people who are gain my respect)
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.
I would even take this rule a little further. Tell your audience what they ARE in store for in the beginning of the article. Tease them a bit to entice them to read further, but also give them some incite to the depth of your research. For example, you could be writing an article about deck ideas (don’t know who would ever do that). Don’t just shy away from what they are not in for, but tell them why you are writing the article and why it should be read.
Don’t make it less than what it is either. You put effort into writing an article; make sure that the reader is hooked early, that way they will hopefully gain from your information.
8) ASK YOURSELF WHY ANYONE WOULD READ YOUR ARTICLE: If you can’t think of a reason, best not to write it.
Again, I would take this one a step further and ask the question, would you the writer click on the link to read the article you are writing. Again like #7, tell the reader why you think the information you have is note worthy. Keep in mind that you got their attention, but keeping it can be even harder.
Rules I would add (I will start at #11 since the first 10 were already introduced).
11) Enjoy your writing. If writing your article is a chore, then you most likely are not writing an article or topic that is enjoyable to you as a reader. In the midst of an article, writers block can occur, but if you have no more to say, keep the article focuses or find an enjoyable topic to discuss
12) Add some flair to your card choices. Like if you never want to be the “control” player in a matchup add that with your card choices explaining that you would always look to be aggressive, so my card choice of A is better for my play style than the established card of B because you would never view B as the correct play, but A could be the wrong play at times, but would fit you as you play the deck.
13) If the deck you are talking about involves decisions, try and explain what some of the potential decisions are and why different plays are correct or incorrect. Decks like Desire in the extended season involved multiple decisions, but most articles on the deck did not show why you make the calls you do. If you have put the time in the deck, show off a bit by showing the reader why you understand the matchup and what to look for and what not too. I remember an article on Nether-Go when it was in standard that showed what to counter and what not to counter in different matchups and why (things like board position, other cards in hand, and the potential answers left in your deck). Don’t just say that you need to practice a lot with the deck, explain a bit of why they need to practice. You don’t have to point out every detail, but give a few instances to demonstrate what the deck does.
14) Talk about your sideboard. Don’t just post a pile of cards. Show what comes in and what comes out and why. Show what you think your potential opponent could do as well. If you don’t have a tested sideboard, don’t post one as it looks better to not have a bad sideboard and lose readers.
Again, I think the topic being discussed will help all of us in the long run. Enjoy and keep writing, I for one will still be reading.
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