A stoopid author talks about stoopid rightings
No doubt a few individuals have already lined up a rifle scope in my direction for my 'creative' use of English already used in this article. Personally I think there is a hell of a lot of snobbery concerning articles. Just because there is a spelling mistake here, an incorrect construct there or bad formatting everywhere doesn't mean the article isn't worth reading, quite the opposite is often true. The main problem with articles is that you have to read most of it before you can judge its merits. Even with a bad article there may be a reward hidden within the text, a small nudget of pure gold surrounded by fool's gold.
Depending on the writer's (and possibly evil diskmag editor's) habits, the format of their articles remain constant even when tackling a wide variety of topics. In the big, bad commerical world the main editor has a very, very strong hold on the content and presentation of every article in their publication. This point is taken to the extreme in some cases where the actual dictionary used is restricted in a bad way. The UK has, unfortunately, a really bad 'Gutter-press' with over the top stories and very little truth.
Formatting, rather than being a boring chore, can often help to clarify an article into distinct, easy to read chunks. A reader presented by a huge, solid block of text can find it difficult to read because our brains need spaces, margins and headers to help navigate visually through an article. At the end of every sentence your eyes must quickly jump back to the beginning of the next line. If the text is tightly packed or each line has too many characters then reading can be difficult. This is why books and magazines use columns or narrow blocks of text, to help the reader to resume their place.
Mind the step!
Dario questioned 'creative writing' in a recent Hugi and suggested it was a lazy way to simply fill up article space, but I disagree. Any activity has some kind of merit, even if the merit isn't immediately obvious, or at least obvious to you. Writing, like any other form of art, depends on many things, like inspiration, research, time, energy, humour and practice. The more you write, code, track and edit the more experience (and hopefully skill) you obtain through the act of doing. Not every reader wants to read a very formal sounding article. Sometimes a relaxed style can be more rewarding to both the writer and reader.
Once you have written a number of articles you will may find it difficult to think up a new topic. In this case, and IMVHO, you should take a break, turn off your computer and grab some fresh air and inspiration. I find that 'being in the mood' to write can really make the entire process more enjoyable. Sentences come easily into your mind, your thoughts flow and, the most important aspect of all, your article is growing at a steady rate (you aren't having to stop, think, re-read, then start to write all the time).
Let's face it, writing is all about communication. When you speak you can't stop, delete the previous sentence/word and then continue after 10 minutes of thinking time, so why do it when writing articles? There is a certain comfort in having a friendly, easy-to-follow article.
As some of you might know, I like to look at a very wide range of topics, to draw inspiration from lots of unconnected sources, experiment with ideas and generally have fun! If you, the writer, is bored creating the article then probably so too will the readers be reading it.
Write big, think small?
Are you having problems trying to start your first text? Does the thought of having to produce XX kilobytes of characters fill you with terror? Then don't worry, start small and build on your ideas, soon you will have reached that magic XX target.
One helpful trick I use when starting a long article is to produce a list of headings or words. For example an article about a 3d engine would include "co-ordinate systems, data structures, matrices, cameras and optimization". Those 5 items are enough to get you started. You can always add/delete items later as you progress through the article, or go back and insert a new paragraph/section if you need to.
A section list can really help in keeping you focused on the overview direction of an article. You know what you have done and you know what's left to do (and in what order to do it).
There will (hopefully) be a natural progression from one paragraph and section to the next. If there is a complication section which isn't very clear, then break it up into 2 or 3 smaller sections, possible add a short list of jargon explainations at the start and/or summarise your conclusions at the end.
I hate goto skool
Rules. There are entire bookshops filled with books about the rules of writing books (tsh, some writers have got TOO much free time.. heheh). Don't be afraid of breaking rules when writing, most of the most famous/popular writers do it most of the time. There's lots of "Don't do this" and "You must do this" kinda rules which is just snobbery, IMHO.
As you have probably noticed there are lots of broken rules in this article, 'righting' instead of 'writing' and the use of 'IMHO' and other net-speak corruptions, yet in spite of all these 'problems' you are still able to read and understand and the text...
...and that Ladles and Jelly-spoons (Ladies and Gentlemen) is the whole point of writing: communication!
Now go and produce something wonderful today!