Editorials: Frequently Asked Questions
  Some writing tips

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Common Questions on Editorials.

Question 1: What exactly consititutes an editorial?

Well, from my personal experience, they tend to be mini-essays or structured in a fairly serious, logical manner which discuss a certain topic and/or push a certain point. However, if you're feeling creative enough, you could come up with completely different ways of expressing that point, and at times, it can actually be more effective in putting your point of view or interpetation than a standard essay with a clear introduction, body and conclusion discussing a particular point.

Examples of unexpected forms of an Editorial include:

Editorials isn't just about essays you know. Creativity can get messages across in far more interesting ways. Diary entries, poems, news articles, reports and many other ways could easily be used as ways of expressing what you like. I let you decide on how you'll write it, and if you can execute it accordingly, you'll see it up at Editorials.

Question 2: What can I write about and submit to RPGamer?

There's quite a lot actually. They include:

  • About specific RPGs, such as character analysis, points on plot and the like.
  • About RPG mechnanics, like battle systems, plot trends, translations etc.
  • Opinions on a RPG or on an aspect of one.
  • Reflections on what has happened in RPGs generally.
  • Conceptions and misconceptions in the RPGamer community.
  • Events which occured in the RPGamer community.
  • Opinions concerning the RPG industry.
  • Thoughts on how RPGs influence people directly or indirectly in real life.
That's just off the top of my head. I'm VERY sure there's others, so don't limit yourself to these. As a basic rule, just remember this: This is RPGamer, which covers RPGs and the people who play them, the gamer, and Editorials is designed to express opinion about this.

Remember, it doesn't have to be that popular a topic, or a big one for that matter. Some great editorials have been on the small things about RPGs or concepts which are often overlooked. Don't be scared to write about something important to you about RPGamer.

Question 3: What's the mininum and maximium length for an editorial?

What an odd question... but anyway, I'll answer it. In any given editorial piece, there has to be certain things present. Like what it's about, what you think, any facts to back you up, that sort of thing. The mininum would be the amount of words required to communitcate that across to your readers in a fairly effective manner, the maximium would probably be the most you could write, keeping on topic and still keeping the reader's interest.

For what that is? Well, generally, I personally think about half a page would be the absolute mininum for a standard essay (I'd personally be struggling to keep it under a page) and the maximium could be anything, as it depends on how specific you want to be, and how in-depth the topic is. I recall one Editorial I read which was a close look at Aeris/Aerith, and it was 18 pages... I don't know if it'll be repeated though.

The bottom line? It probably doesn't really matter as long as you achieve what you wanted by writing an editorial.

Question 4: What exactly can and can't be permitted in an editorial?

Well, as long as it sticks to the submission guidelines, it should be fine. I will be somewhat skeptical about someone who swears every second word and doesn't make a point, sticking all sorts of naughty pictures or some extreme like that, but that's rare. I'll e-mail if I find that a certain editorial had material which I can't allow, but is perfectly in line with the rules, and I'll modify everything to notify everyone of that. That'd probably only happen if RPGamer became a little kiddies site or something drastic happened.

That should be fairly straightforward, and if any one has any other questions, or would like to add some common necessary things which people always wondered but don't know the answer to when it comes to Editorials. e-mail me, and I'll put it up.

Now, some of you requested that some little tips would be handy for those wanting to start... So this next section will be devoted to some advice, ramblings and experiences of an editorialist.

Basic Tips on writing an Editorial.

1. You need a topic first.

There's no way around that one... I've never seen an editorial about nothing. It can be a massive event, something catastrophic, but sometimes the trigger to getting you to write could be a very small thing, or something that most would probably miss. It can happen anywhere, from reading an ed to playing an RPG... don't expect to just sit down and think, "I must write an editorial, now what could I..." that tends to get you nowhere. They tend to be "I have to write about this!" after something big (or small) happens.

2. Write the idea down the moment it comes into your head.

Ideas are fickle things... they tend to vanish from your head without warning. There's nothing worse than when you have an idea, and three hours later, when you're ready to put your thoughts down, the idea's gone, and you just can't seem to recall it. It can drive you nuts. Don't think "I'll remember it later, when I got the time.", chances are you could lose it. And write it on anything you can... I had to ask my exam supervisor for my editorial notes which was scrawled on the back of my exam booklet... twice.

3. Make some sort of general statement about your idea, and stick to it.

That helps you keep on topic and makes sure that people will understand what you're getting at. This doesn't mean stating it as a thesis statement at the very beginning, although for most editorials it isn't a bad idea. Write down what the editorial should be about in... say, a couple of lines, then after you finish, read it and see if the general idea matches what you just wrote. Then get a friend or two to read it and give a quick summary. If their intepertation doesn't match yours, chances are you might not be saying quite what you want to say.

4. Opinions aren't bad things, but don't mix them up with fact.

It happens a lot. It can cause a lot of problems, misunderstanding and anger among other things, which is why I decided to put that as a standard rule in the Submission Guidelines. But that doesn't mean you can't express what you think. Editorials are about you, and your point of view. There's nothing wrong with saying what you think.

Just two things. One, make it clear that it's your opinion. Two, it does help if you do have some good reason for it, with facts to back them up. It sounds more convincing if I said "I think Final Fantasy XIII won't do nearly as well as Dragon Quest 10 because of many gamers' dislike over the purely online nature of Final Fantasy." than "FFXIII just sucks because everyone said so!" doesn't it?
(NB: That was just an example. I don't hold such an opinion, even if the two games in question did exist!)

5. Be yourself!

Have you ever wondered why most University essays sound downright boring? Even the most interesting topic can become absolutely boring if you don't bring some personality in it. Ok, there's a certain degree which has to be imposed depending on how you want to portray your idea, but having a lifeless editorial tends to be like reading undergraduate essays. No one really wants to do it, and chances are it's not as good as it could be anyway. I doubt you want your editorials to be like that... do you?

6. Imitation may not be the best method.

You'll probably find as you write, you'll find your own little ways of writing things. I personaly tend to veer more into a personal reflection rather than a straight out essay, Paws is more of a letter writer and there's others who tend to write out their thoughts differently, like telling a short story or making little asides or jokes.

If you feel that a particular idea should be presented in a different way, do so. I will say it again and again, editorials aren't just about essays. Essays are just one of many ways to write an editorial, not the only way.

7. Be proud of what you write.

Sure, when you put up something, you might get flamed by someone else. This happens particularly when you're discussing... let's say, Why you think Final Fantasy VI is better than Final Fantasy VII (get your attention?) or something similar. Don't cringe or get upset or defensive over it though... people are allowed different opinions. At least you can show (by getting past me, the editor!) that you can rationally argue and present your opinions based on some fact. If nothing else, dare him or her to try it. You might never know what interesting things can come out of that.

Apart from that, if you show you're willing to stick to your arguments and are willing to defend them rationally if necessary, people will respect you for who you are, and you'll get that little more feedback... which just might make you think a little more, and it might make you write a little more. I can certainly vouch on that one!

If anyone else wants to add to this list, drop me a line and suggest away, and if it's suitable, I'll put it in, full acknowledgement of course. Well, I certainly hope that helps all those who wanted a few tips for having a shot at writing one. Good luck and have fun writing!