Sunday, June 29, 2014

What's the story?

Here are a few rules and tips about writing for YV:

1. Stories should be local and should include your own reporting.

If you find yourself in the Jets locker room talking to the players, write about it! But don't just watch the game and write about it, because that's not the same thing.

And don't write about elephants unless there's one in your garage. (If you see one at the zoo, interview the keeper. That's a story!)

Your local community is full of interesting people and things to write about: Go find them!

2. Travel stories should be about places other kids can go, too. It doesn't have to be in New York State, but it should be a place you can get to in a day's drive.

Also, write about a place, but not a for-profit business. For instance, the Farmers Museum or Mt. Marcy, yes. But not the Great Escape or Chuck E. Cheese.

Exception: We don't want a story about your vacation cruise to the Virgin Islands, but, if you spend Christmas with your grandparents in Santo Domingo and want to do a story about how they celebrate the holiday there, we'd like that.

3. Take lots of pictures, but no selfies. If you are writing about learning to ski, for instance, you might be in a lineup of six kids taking the lesson, but remember that the story is about how to learn to ski, it's not about you. And if you interview an author at a book store, a picture of the writer talking to other people is great, or a picture of the author alone, but not of the two of you together.

4. It would be wise to check with me before writing a story that someone else might also be doing. For instance, we don't need three or four reviews of the same movie, so let me know if you're going to the opening night and I'll let you know if we need a review.

On the other hand, if, for instance, you go to a local presentation by an interesting expert and want to report on it, chances are nobody else will be doing that, so don't wait to hear from me! You may want to go up to the person afterwards, explain that you are a reporter for Young Voices and ask a few more questions, but, in any case, take pictures, take notes and write it up! 

5. Reviews contain opinions, of course, but other stories should be about the facts. If you do have opinions you want to write about, that should be a blog. (And that's good: We like blogs!)

6. "TLDNR" stands for "Too Long, Did Not Read." You should keep that in mind. If you go over 500 words, you probably ought to trim it down so more people will read it. And 400 is usually better.

7. There's also such a thing as "Too Short." If you haven't written at least 200 words, maybe you didn't include enough information.

8. Remember that your stories won't appear on the site until they've been approved by the editor. After you file a story, watch your email for a few days, in case I've got a question or concern.

9. If I have small changes, I'll make them before posting. (That's what editors do.) If I have larger changes, I'll get back to you about it. (That's what good editors do.) If you see a change you don't understand, or that you wish I hadn't made, email me and we'll talk about. (That's also part of how it is supposed to work.)

10. There are more tips here about different kinds of writing. Read'em! And, if you have a question, email me. That's what I'm here for!