‘Back in the day’, in news offices around the world, we were rather proud of ourselves as keepers of the flame, not only of news but of putting ourselves out there to tell it. Now that the tools are readily available on the internet everyone wants to have their say or ‘tell’. But a consequence of everyone having a say is that there are too many opinions, and those comments and opinions become fickle, diluted, shallow, meaningless or dishonest, click numbers are not necessarily the best indicator of correctness or reaching the right audience.
An experienced blogger will choose a platform on which to ‘blog’ that publishes material that they can appreciate and enjoy, and feel comfortable participating in. Sparky suggests Medium as an excellent interface for writers, clean and uncluttered when writing with simple tools for editing, sub-edits and adding illustration and other enhancements as appropriate, with a front end that categorises and promotes valuable and meaningful content.
It is wise to check comments and moderation on sites you consider contributing to as your chosen blogging platform can define your own views if they have ulterior motives, so it is worth finding a community that ‘speaks’ like you.
Beware of, avoid or expose extremist behaviour, hate-speech and negative influence as you discover it.
Acknowledge that you are one of so many contributing to your chosen site. There are multitudes wanting to have their say so make it obvious why your copy should be published – easy to read, main points up front, getting as much into your short and concise headings and intros as is possible, and be personal with and respectful of your readers.
Are you interested in writing or contributing to Sparky, or writing blog posts or articles for any online publication or platform? Here is a quick guide with hints and tips for producing good copy that caters for the short attention span of most online viewers.
Put yourself in the mind of your viewer/reader
Are your ideas original? – Is there a relevant point to what you are saying? – Can you construct sentences that are intelligent, but easy to read and easily understood?
Grammar, punctuation and spelling are all part of this; they are the floor, walls and roof of your theatre, the foundation being the publication or title you are contributing to, and your ideas being the design in relation to its audience.
God gave us the spellchecker, but you have to read through copy yourself to find better construction, context and flow. The spellchecker is also fallible in that it cannot tell the difference between words like mad, made, mead and maid, so be sure to recognise the value of editing and sub-editing to achieve the best result.
It’s all just words, right? – the subtleties of creative writing and good journalism are many and diverse but they set the tone of voice and help with flow and effortless communication. There are many ‘helper apps’ online that can directly advise you as you go along, one good and recent system extension is Grammarly, which can suggest alternative phraseology, dynamic punctuation and dynamic spell checking, as you type.
A lot of sites will want either a suggestion or actual images to accompany the article. But it’s best policy to send one, and find out what the platform does regarding pictures and illustrations.
Now … you have your wonderful, topical, clean article. Make sure you send it to the correct email or submissions box. Keep a copy.
Check back in a week later if you’ve heard nothing. Be friendly, polite, but “just checking.”
And with luck, if you’ve followed all the previous steps, the answer might be” “Yes! That’s a great piece. Just what we’re looking for.”
Guide to submitting to Sparky in particular
Here at Sparky we like to talk about collaboration, rather than contributing. It’s a much more collective attitude to content than the traditional bargaining and manoeuvring I’ve just described. But some of the same points apply. The material you want to share with us should in some way reflect the Sparky ethos.
This is about recognising the variety, spirit and potential of our world, and turning away from the harsh militarism and capitalism that has ruined so much of the recent past and brought us to a point where many people in the West feel desperate about the future.
It’s about looking at the positive end of the wedge: the refugee crisis has brought out the worst in some politicians, but also the best in many individuals who have been selfless and heroic to help their fellow humans.
Photos, essays, short articles, drawings, paintings – all sorts of creative work, is welcome, as long as it can be reproduced on the site. That means both technically and legally [copyrights and permissions].
We’re a broad church, an open canvas, a wide blue sky.
Help populate it.
Show us your best.