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This week: Settings for SuccessEdited by: Jeff
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"You never know what you can do until you try,
and very few try unless they have to."
-- C.S. Lewis
About The Editor: Greetings! My name is Jeff and I'm one of your regular editors for the Noticing Newbies Official Newsletter! I've been a member of Writing.com since 2003, and have edited more than 350 newsletters across the site during that time. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me via email or the handy feedback field at the bottom of this newsletter!
SETTINGS FOR SUCCESS
There are a lot of moving pieces to Writing.com and it can be a long-term proposition to familiarize yourself with everything the site has to offer. If you're a writer in this community, though, one of the best things you can learn early-on is how to properly set up your items to make sure you're reaching your intended audience and formatting your work in a way that's inviting for a reader to want to spend time with.
Roughly in order of importance, in my opinion, each time you create an item on WDC you should consider the following:
This is the overall appearance of your item. The default font on WDC is Arial, and the default font size on screen is roughly 10-point. It's what this newsletter is written in. But you've probably realized that there are a lot of other options to choose from, including different fonts, font sizes, and a variety of other WritingML formatting to make the text of your items more appealing.
But what if you're writing a poem or a story and you want the prose to speak for itself, without a lot of fancy formatting? Well, there's still a big difference between an item that has dense, lengthy paragraphs versus one that breaks up the text with more white space. There's a big difference between an item that puts an extra space (carriage return) between paragraphs and one that just has one block of text running into the next.
When you're formatting your item, take the time to look it over and make sure it's visually appealing. Different items require different considerations. If you're writing a short poem, maybe it doesn't really matter what font you use, or whether there are extra line spaces between stanzas. But if you're writing a lengthy story, where you want your reader to dive in for an extended period of time, it might make sense to break up paragraphs with extra line spaces, or even do 1.5 line spacing instead of single space, or use a larger, more easily readable font.
Your formatting doesn't have to be super fancy. But it should be clean and attractive enough to not turn off the reader before they even start reading.
There are a lot of different types of items on WDC. Even within Static Items, you can choose from a variety of options including, but not limited to:
Some people search for items by type. They want to read a short story, so they look for short story item types. Some contests require a specific type of item, and will disqualify your entry if it's incorrectly labeled. Take a few moments to make sure that you've selected the right item type for what you're writing. If it's a short story and you call it an Appendix, or Other, it'll be harder for readers to find and might not qualify if you've entered into into a contest with an incorrect characterization of what type of item it is.
Ratings are important because they tell the reader what kind of content they can expect, just like the MPA rating on a movie will tell you what audience that movie is most appropriate for. Your options are:
E : Everyone
ASR : Adult Supervision Recommended
13+ : Recommended for Readers 13 Years and Older Only
18+ : Recommended for Readers 18 Years and Older Only
GC : May Contain Graphic Content
XGC : May Contain Extreme Graphic Content
NPL : Not Publicly Listed
You can find more information on the ratings and their criteria over at the Content Rating System (CRS) from Writing.Com 101 . Making sure your item is correctly rated (you'd be surprised how many people forget to set this and end up with an "E" rating by default) is also crucial to helping you find the right audience. Incorrect ratings might also get you disqualified from contest eligibility, cause someone to give you a bad rating/review because there's inappropriate content in the item they weren't expecting, and could even require a site Moderator or Staff member to forcibly change the rating on your item to the appropriate level.
Writing.com has 95 different genres to choose from. Everything from popular major genres like Mystery, Science Fiction, and Romance/Love to very specific niches. For example, did you know that there are separate genre categories for Supernatural, Paranormal, Occult, Gothic, AND Ghost? Did you know that in addition to Mystery, there are also several crime-specific genres including Crime/Gangster, Detective, AND Thriller/Suspense?
The best part is that each of your items can list up to three different genres that are relevant to your piece. Did you just write a story about a cop investigating a murder in an attempt to stop a serial killer? You could categorize that as Mystery AND Detective AND Crime/Gangster, which will help people find your item easier (since it'll be listed three different places).
When you're creating your items, consider using all three genres to better characterize what kind of story you're going to tell. Could you just choose one genre and leave the remaining to as "Other?" Sure, but that's missing out on two additional opportunities to find an audience and convey to them what kind of story they can expect.
Those are the four main areas that, for me, set up an item (and audience expectations) for success. If an item is pleasant to look at (not just a lengthy block of hard-to-read text), and is labeled with the appropriate Item Type, Rating, and Genre(s), you'll put yourself in a stronger position to be taken seriously and to get quality, helpful feedback than if you present badly formatted items with the wrong genres, wrong item types, etc.
Until next time,
If you're interested in checking out my work:
"The Book of Jeff"
"New & Noteworthy Portfolio Items"
This month's official Writing.com writing contest is:
I also encourage you to check out the following items:
EXCERPT: In a small castle holding on the outskirts of the Retnia Kingdom, was a source of punishment. A reputation of death. The Silka Barony was notorious for its use of the gallows. The people there took pride in every death befell by the neck.
EXCERPT: We will all die at some point. Death is inevitable and yet, we are so scared of it. We don't want to die, we do everything to avoid death because not only we are sacred by ii but also scared by others' deaths, our loved ones. Some say that there is hell and heaven, others say that there is something out there without really knowing what, and others don't believe in anything at all only darkness. We don't exactly know what there is after death, we just try to reassure ourselves, so the thought of death seems less terrifying, especially when it comes to loved ones. But death is natural, it is a part of life, and living wouldn't be so interesting and invigorating if death wasn't a part of it.
EXCERPT: I have always wished to grow up, met someone special, have kids,be happy, get married, be a foster mom/ writer but now that i look back at it i think maybe i could become someone better then i had always hoped, make people actually fill like they belong, because no matter what you become you still matter to our world and when your going through a rough time reach out because you know what even i have to reach out for advice sometimes.
EXCERPT: The beginning of Etta's 'A Sunday Kind of Love' echoes off the walls. My bare feet on the kitchen floor are cold, but his innocent touch keeps me warm. These are the moments I want to keep locked in my heart, for no one else to see or even know; Him and I, us, just existing in love. Nothing forced, nor rushed. I'm greedy with this love.
EXCERPT: I’m here now.
A million years have passed, here I am.
Physical body was born only a few decades ago.
But spirit is like a million years of solitude.
Submit an item for consideration in this newsletter!
Have an opinion on what you've read here today? Then send the Editor feedback! Find an item that you think would be perfect for showcasing here? Submit it for consideration in the newsletter!
Don't forget to support our sponsor!
Feedback from "Noticing Newbies Newsletter (November 17, 2021)" about writing for fun:
Or do something unrelated to writing (e.g., archery, canoeing). -- oldgreywolf scribbles
Hello, Jeff, Like a great cup of coffee, your message delivered the necessary jolt my woe-begone psyche required. Thank you, Cathryn -- Cathryn
So glad you found the newsletter helpful!
Sure, being published would be wonderful, but it is not my focus. I write because the words and stories regularly direct me to place the ideas on screen. Writing is an adventure as well as a vacation. Fortunately, I do not need to pack my suitcase. My imagination takes me all over the place and introduces me to many interesting characters. -- dog pack:saving4 premium renew
Submitted Item: "Things Are Not As They Seem: HSS Contest" [ASR]
I'm happy to hear that your imagination keeps you entertained!
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