My Adventures in the Press Industry


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DMorgan
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Hi guys,

This first post will be updated/edited over time to include a hyperlinked list of contents and things about various questions and bits and bobs (the same with the initially reserved posts) and a proper introductory blurb.

This thread originated from thoughts I originally posted here.

Pop any questions about advice, thoughts, etc etc here (and genuine questions only please, no pranking/trolling etc). I will get around to answering them as and when I can.

I may also do a few articles as part of a series over time on the front page, and will probably set up a personal blog site too as this all develops over time.

Basically, I'm getting lots of people asking me questions and things - so something like this will just save me time with individually responding to people as I can just link them to stuff.

I'll develop this continually over the days, weeks etc so that it ends up as a decent resource of info and advice to help the minor army of awesome contributors and prospective people on the site and elsewhere.

At least one other professional journalist in my contacts has so far agreed to let me quote him and his own advice for this too, and it might spin off into other things, depending on how it goes. He has also given me consent to mention his name - Wesley Copeland. Wes has an absolute wealth of experience in both editorial and writing, as a staff member, freelancer, self-employed etc. He has contributed to Pocketgamer, NowGamer, and also ran Videogames Interactive, among other things. He has proven invaluable to me in my journey. I know Wes through my fiance and he is a personal friend. You can google him if you want to get an idea of his work.

Cheers for now, and any personal queries you'd rather not stick on the thread, contact me at dale@allaboutthegames.co.uk, putting the thread title in the subject line otherwise it's liable to get buried amongst the other stuff that hits my in-tray.
#1 at 01:41:54 - 20/11/2013
DMorgan
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Wes Copeland has provided 10 (well ok, he threw in an 11th for luck) rules to live by when writing a piece, pitching a piece, and dealing with editors and things:

1) Have you used the word 'Very'? If so, delete it. Chances are, it won't add anything to your sentence and could bog it down.

2) "I've got this killer opinion piece about..." Why should a reader who's never heard of you care about your opinion on something? If it's a great opinion, have you asked someone of importance what they think about said opinion? People like opinions if they're from someone they care about.

3) Pitch something only you can write. An article about how Xbox One sucks, can be penned by anyone. However, if you were to say "I spoke with this guy on Twitter and he says he wants to tell me about his latest game," then you're in with a much greater chance of being listened to. No one else can be you, so use 'you' to your advantage.

4) Editors love to be told what to do and spoken down to. They also love when people send one-line pitches from their iPads without spellchecking it. ;)

5) Learn what sarcasm is and avoid using it unless you're doing a list. For reference, see No. 4

6) Companies are singular entities. I didn't make the rule, it's just how it is. Nintendo has, not Nintendo have. If in doubt, change the company name to your name, and see if it reads like shit. Wesley Copeland have compiled a really stupid example.

7) Learn how to format names. Sega may be spelt SEGA, as though Sonic the Hedgehog himself is screaming it from the top of his lungs, we don't do that though. We say, Sega, in a nice calm voice. See also; Xbox (not XBox, XBOX, X-Box, X360, X1), Ouya, Nintendo, Sony, oh, and Watch_Dogs, because you know, Ubisoft are out to annoy us.

8) Do grammar goodly. Grammar is a beast at first, but it's there to help you, and you may even become friends. 'This-game-is, really -- ST2PID!!!!!!!!!!!!!': You want to shoot me now, right? That's because when grammar is abused, you'll look like a hack. Mistakes are fine, it happens to everyone at some point, but learn from them so they don't happen again.

9) How many words does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Too many and the reader loses interest half the way through. "This game is the best game I have ever played, well, it's in my top ten at least, maybe top five ..." is bad; 'This is a great game' gives the same impression, but doesn't make the reader want to find and hurt you for wasting valuable minutes of their lives that they'll never get back.

10) Everyone loves similes and metaphors (there's that sarcasm again). "Bounding through the luscious landscape of Green Hill Zone comes a tale of our hero, the one, the only, the blue blur that is...". Just say 'Sonic'. It easier to read and you don't sound like an overly-pretentious knob.

11) Don't compare unless it's obvious. For example: "Streets of Rage reminds of Etequator X45 on the Sinclair Spectrum". I might know what that game is, but no one has clue what I'm on about. Saying "This game's a bit like Mario," is all good. We're niche, so expecting readers to know who Mario is, isn't a stretch. Expecting them to know what some random indie game you found in a bin is, it takes the mickey.
#2 at 01:42:07 - 20/11/2013
DMorgan
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#3 at 01:42:27 - 20/11/2013
DMorgan
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#4 at 01:42:37 - 20/11/2013
DMorgan
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#5 at 01:42:54 - 20/11/2013
DMorgan
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#6 at 01:43:06 - 20/11/2013
HairyArse
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From my point of view I can't help but feel all of this stuff should be kept private. There's a certain illusion that needs to be maintained.
#7 at 09:22:58 - 20/11/2013
NewYork
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HairyArse said:From my point of view I can't help but feel all of this stuff should be kept private. There's a certain illusion that needs to be maintained.

I dunno if it's easily done but I think it's about time you started a second forum
#8 at 14:56:41 - 20/11/2013
DMorgan
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I think its on his to-do list already York ;)
#9 at 15:14:44 - 20/11/2013
HairyArse
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To be honest I think just setting up a private emailing list would be better for that sort of thing.
#10 at 23:22:06 - 20/11/2013
DMorgan
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Or I could do it through the shared-resource thing I was thinking of doing for contributors.
#11 at 23:31:48 - 20/11/2013
DMorgan
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Just been passed this by a certain lovely person I'm in contact with - they recommended it for people wanting to get a peek behind the curtains of what it's like:

http://www.pentadact.com/2013-07-01-five-things-i-learned-about-game-criticism-in-nine-years-at-pc-gamer/
#12 at 13:44:40 - 21/11/2013
HairyArse
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Call me naive, ill-prepared or amateurish but I just write from the gut.
#13 at 19:05:09 - 21/11/2013
DMorgan
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HairyArse said:Call me naive, ill-prepared or amateurish but I just write from the gut.


I can't remember what film it was, but there's one with Morgan Freeman in it where he's giving advice to someone writing.

The quote goes something like this: "You write your first draft from the heart; the second version comes from the head".

It's something that's always stuck in my mind ever since. It's very true, and is how I try to approach the drafting process.

A brownie point goes to the first person able to remind this old duffer what the film was.
#14 at 04:54:40 - 25/11/2013
DMorgan
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Just added in some general advice from Wes Copeland when trying to write a decent piece.
#15 at 00:33:52 - 27/11/2013

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