Gilded Serpent presents...

Tips for Writing an Article
for Gilded Serpent

by Najia Marlyz
posted July 26, 2010

If you have decided to write an article for Gilded Serpent, there are a few useful tips that will help you to ease the process of making your ideas clearer, easier, and more fun for GS readers to grasp. Your writing cannot be as simple as exchanging dialog on the telephone or text messaging your best friend; it will not be read if it doesn’t excite the interest of readers worldwide, so here are some of the ways we have found to capture their attention—and hold it too!

  • First, remind yourself that written language “sounds” different than conversational language.
    Writing, even casual writing, is a bit more formal to insure clarity. An essay needs elements such as complete sentences, punctuation, and color that tone, gesture, and facial expression usually carry in the spoken word. Your writing will not sound like your everyday speech to your friends if it is to be clear and meaningful to many readers.
  • Begin with an introductory paragraph.
    An exceptional essay has an introductory paragraph that clearly states the topic of the essay. It also contains a hook that "grabs" and keeps the reader's attention so that he becomes willing to persevere to the end of the piece.
  • Organize your content.
    Construct your essay by writing introductory, body, and final paragraphs (a beginning, a middle and an end). Each paragraph should adhere to its respective main idea.
  • Grammar and spelling:
    The essay should contain correct grammar and spelling to the best of your ability as well as maintain the same past or present tense throughout the final copy. Spell-check is easy to use! Remember also that much of the world will be reading your article through translation software.
  • Elaborate!
    The captivating essay includes meaningful details. (Examples: “Luke-warm mint tea slid quickly down Layla’s parched and grateful throat.)
  • Employ descriptors.
    An outstanding article includes word pictures that create images in the mind of the reader. (Example: “Her limpid voice smoothed the pain away from his wounded spirit.”)
  • Search for vivid verbs.
    The essay should include vivid verbs that illustrate specific actions. (Examples: twirl rather than turn, gorge rather than eat, stumble rather than trip, etc.)
  • Use illuminating adjectives.
    The readable essay includes illuminating adjectives that show specific characteristics. Examples: seething rather than mad, patient rather than nice, sarcastic rather than rude, etc.
  • Write all sentences in the active rather than passive voice.
    Example: “You should choose whatever you desire.” rather than “Whatever you desire should be chosen.”
  • Choose colorful words.
    Example: “outrageous” rather than “objectionable”, or “heart-warming” rather than “feels good.”
  • Avoid supercilious language, and ban concocted words
    Such as: Our troupe, The Mad Hathors, was just simply fantabulous, super-duper, and gorge-a-luscious in our new costumes that I designed with my own creative know-how.
  • Avoid commonly over-used words.
    Some examples are: great, nice, good, wonderful, really, interesting, fun and very.
  • Avoid reusing words.
    Within a sentence or a paragraph, the writer should keep repetition to a minimum by substituting similar words. Use a thesaurus!
  • Avoid exceptionally long, complex sentences.
  • llustrate your ideas with word pictures by including poignant vignettes, anecdotes or quotations. The essay shows an idea rather than just stating it. Example: “Becky adored Bellydance more than anything she had ever attempted to learn. She dedicated her life and every breath to innovating better technique. Her life was imbued with the thrill of creativity in dance and her spirit came alive each time she began to move.”
  • Smile when you write that!
    Keep it fun to read and remember that your readers won’t stay with you if it is a dry, colorless, report or a braggadocio unrelated to any concerns or curiosities of the general dance community.

Once you have finished writing your article, sum it all up in a sentence or two. Remember the old journalism cliché, “Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then, tell them what you have told them.” Next, you may want to refer to GS submission guidelines for checking the specific aspects of our submission process, such as file types and biographical pages. For complete information on requirements for specific types of content, check “How to Feed the Snake.” GS also has a resource page specifically concerning writing a critique or critical review.

We appreciate and thank you for your support!
Gilded Serpent
PO Box 39, Fairfax, CA 94960, USA
415-455-8455
editor@gildedserpent.com

Ready for more information on how to participate?