How To Become The Ruler Of The Scene
Written by Adok
To make use of scene slang, getting three articles about the same subject for the same issue written by three authors independently from eachother simply rulezzz. Especially as they have almost the same content.
Thanks to Dario, Makke, and TAD, a newbie writer will now have a few basic guidelines how to write articles, perhaps even some motivation, unless the headlines have already scared him away. Which is why the headline of this article does not include the harmful word "write". But to really rule the scene - and this is every ambitious scener's aim, isn't it? - by writing you need to create the very best articles. Of course only a few persons can do that, but you could be one of them, by proving that you are better than the current haughty establishment. This will be a hard job. But after all, you are in the scene to show off your skills, aren't you?
Yeah. I've already convinced you by now, thanks to loads of bits and bytes representing articles, that vast performance and great achievements are the most important things in our society, which the demoscene is a miniature of, and the best for the future of mankind. You could also convince other people of your views by writing well-thought and well-formulated essays, manifests, documents, generally referred to as articles, or provoke intelligent discussions which can lead you to revise your opinion and get a step closer to the absolute truth, if this can be found at all. For this some talent and a lot of experience are necessary. I cannot give that to you. But I can at least give you some hints, mainly by pointing to mistakes even experienced writers often make. Which is the targeted audience of this tutorial. Notice: By my definition, a "mistake" is something which I do not like, so it was neither a mistake that I wrote an introduction far too long and far too chaotic for the general taste nor that I mentioned who this article is actually for at the end of three far too huge paragraphs.
Let Us Get Serious.
Words are words, many people say. What counts is not the way you convey your thoughts but what your thoughts are. This is not true. If you want to reach a certain audience and want to make a certain impact on the reader, you have to use a certain writing style.
Of course everybody's natural writing style is different. Everybody prefers some particular expressions and particular types of sentences, for example. There is nothing wrong with that, on the contrary, it would be quite boring if everybody's texts would be constructed in the same manner. Still there are some criteriae based on which you can objectively rate writing styles. If you know them you can also improve your style.
Let's imagine a group of people is assigned to write an essay discussing a certain topic. Some people will just make a rash list of facts or opinions, while some others will first list the pros and then the cons or vice versa, and yet another group will try to pack their thoughts in a real text (the Latin word "textus" means "fabric"). Three different ways of constructing articles.
The first way is rather boring and usually unclear. You just get some facts and views in a totally random order. The main argument is probably at the beginning or somewhere in the middle of the list, which takes all motivation to read the rest. Usually you do not really know whether the author is rather for or against the matter he discusses. This may be the result of a brainstorming session but not a finished article.
The second way of writing increases clarity. The more experienced writers know that you usually start with the arguments against your opinion and then get on with the arguments which support your view, the last argument being the strongest. With this style you can at least convey your thoughts.
But only the third can really grip the readers if it is well written, that is fluently, logically and possibly entertainingly. Further clarity can be attained by well structuring the text in paragraphs and inserting headlines in between.
This, that is structuring articles, is one aspect of a human's natural writing style that can be trained. Another is his vocabulary. If he has a large vocabulary, he can express his ideas better than someone with a little vocabulary. This is especially important for articles with a special group of people as their targeted audience, such as physicians. If do not you know the appropriate terms, your articles will be regarded as unprofessional by them, no matter how well thought your ideas may be.
This leads to another aspect of writing styles. What we have discussed so far is a human's natural writing style. That is, whether he prefers to write more objectively or rather subjectively, whether he prefers questions or commands, whether he uses a lot of slang and jargon words, whether his articles contain a lot of emotions, whether he keeps his texts rather formal or colloquial, whether his sentences are short and easy to read or he prefers making things more complicated by using long sentences or forcing the reader to read "between the lines", whether he uses many rhetorical figures, etc. But a really good writer need not only have a natural writing style. He must be capable of mastering several writing styles and using them in his texts based on the type of the text, the targeted audience, the desired effect, etc. He must have a big repetoire of rhetorical figures, a vast vocabulary in various subjects, and enough talent to select the appropriate style for his current article.
Just go back to the beginning of this article. The style of it is completely different from the one of the last paragraph, now isn't it? Partly more colloquial, partly more sarcastic, partly more chaotic, partly more pseudo-intellectual - in other words, it is the "posing style", a style which you usually use when you want to show off your abilities rather than convey knowledge. By contrast, the last few paragraphs have been logically structured. They use short sentences, rather utilize rhetoric than slang, keep discreet distance from the reader, and give examples where they fit in. That is the style of a tutorial, the style you use when you want to convey knowledge to a special, yet not too familar audience. Still it is the same person who wrote these two parts of the article.
This is one thing I especially want diskmag editors and writers who want to become less dependant on their editors to memorize. Do not just write in the way you would talk to some person or write a personal letter, unless you find it appropriate for your article. Writing is always a form of art, no matter whether you are writing a poem, an essay, a personal statement or a tutorial. What counts is not only what you write but also how you write it.