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Old 02-26-2005, 02:41 PM   #1
high voltage
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The Guide to Writing Columns

The Guide to Writing Columns

Table of contents
1.0 Introduction
1.1 Choosing a Topic and Thesis
2.0 Column Outline
2.1 Extended Vocabulary
2.2 Column Rough Copy
2.3 Column Good Copy
3.0 Submitting Your Column
3.1 Three Keys to Success
4.0 Conclusion


Introduction

I pondered aimlessly for hours last night, struggling for the perfect column topic. I knew it had to be something that would appeal to everyone that reads the column, and that it had to have a prior goal. I was browsing the columns throughout the site for some inspiration and I couldn?t find any. The columns seemed a bit, drag. For every five columns I viewed, three of them had a two star rating, usually fluttered with hateful comments. After a long nights worth of reading, it occurred to me, why not write a column teaching you the reader, how to write columns? By the looks of it, some of you could use the help!

I?m sure you?ve all thought about it once or twice, but you decided not too. I can think of a few reasons why you didn't, a main reason being it might turn out bad. I?ll admit, you?re absolutely right; it would be embarrassing if your column received a one star, and I can see how you would be afraid to submit a column. Sometimes, you have to go beyond your fear of failure, and try. I?m going to teach you how to try, not only will I teach you to try, but to try and succeed.


Choosing a Topic and Thesis

Before you even consider writing your column you need to brainstorm topics ideas. Grab a pen and some loose leaf, brainstorm topic ideas! But what exactly is a topic? A topic defines as the subject matter of a conversation or discussion. Jot down all of your topic ideas and even if you find a loop in an idea, the more you jot down, the more successful your column will be! You should never pick the first topic that comes to mind, at least not at your first perspective. I would give the brainstorming process approximately twenty minutes to complete, make sure you have written down at least ten different topics. Once you have your topic chosen, don?t dispose of the other ideas! Store the loose leaf paper somewhere save for your next five star column! Better yet, open your focused word processor and save your ideas there.

There is no secret concept when picking a topic, it?s all about precision. A thoughtful demand, something inspiring. Not only does the topic have to be inspiring to the readers, but to yourself. You can?t write a quality column unless the topic appeals to you, and let?s be honest, would you really want to write a column about something you hated or disagreed with? Of course you wouldn?t. Notice I said a quality column? Anyone can write a column, writing something meaningful is the key. Remember to pick a topic that is fresh, there is no point in writing about a topic already in our archives. If you?re not careful, that could be considered plagiarizing and I?m sure you don?t want that hanging on your shoulders!

Once you have a topic, you need a thesis based on the topic. A thesis defines as an unproved statement put forward as a premise in an argument. A thesis can be as simple as ?I like guitar? but can be much more complex. The choice is yours; however complex you get is fine by me!

Remember to always research your topic and thesis! Don't make up facts, false information leads to poor columns!


Column Outline

So you have a topic and thesis, now it's time to start the column. Beginning the column is always the hardest thing to do. Most people don?t know where to start, so they just give up. Let me assure you, without the proper outline and guides I would not know either. Columns take time, and if you really want to write one, it?s in your best interest to do it right! I?ve created this column outline; don?t be afraid to use it for your columns, or even your personal work! After a while you will grow a custom to your own writing habits, and will create your own outline. Maybe not physically, but mentally.

I. INTRODUCTION:
Opening Sentence
State Thesis
Ending Sentence

II. BODY PARAGRAPH 1:
Opening Sentence
Information 1
Information 2
Information 3

III. BODY PARAGRAPH II:
Transition/Opening Sentence
Information 1
Information 2
Information 3

IV. BODY PARAGRAPH III:
Transition/Opening Sentence
Information 1
Information 2
Information 3

V. BODY PARAGRAPH IV:
Transition/Opening Sentence
Information 1
Information 1
Information 3

VI. CONCLUSION:
Transition/Opening Sentence
Reconfirmed Thesis
Ending Sentence
Signature Representation


You'll notice in my outline I wrote three informational statements per body, depending on the writer and the topic the number of information statements may vary. The same applies for the number of bodies, although three is usually a good number to stick with.

A second thing you'll notice is the word "transition" and just to clarify transition is a passage that connects a topic to one that follows. Some transition words include "again, also, and, and then, finally, first, second, third, next, still, too, above, adjacent to, below, beyond, closer to, elsewhere, far, further on, here, near, nearby, opposite to, there".

Extended Vocabulary

Before you start writing the rough or good draft of your column, it's required you have an exceptional vocabulary. (Exceptional, that sounds better then good, right?)

As we all know, it doesn't hurt to look smart. In a column, if you appear intelligent your column will appear intelligent too! What I'm about to share with you can be used not only in columns, but solidly throughout life.

Using the words such as ?good?, ?okay?, and ?nice? in a column can get a tad, well, vague. It is annoying and vague. No-one like?s a vague column, so don?t use them. Improve yourself! Visit www.dictionary.com and expand beyond your current vocabulary, next time you want to describe something, or comment, refer to www.dictionary.com type in the meaning you wish to present, and poof, out comes something more sophisticated.

Basically, your vocabulary can be divided into 3 categories:

1. Words with which you are thoroughly familiar and use confidently in your everyday speech and writing.

2. Words that you vaguely understand in other people's speech and writing, but which you wouldn't feel comfortable using yourself.

3. Those words that you don't understand at all.

Your goal would be to become confident enough to use category 2 words yourself and to gain an understanding of words that are fairly commonly used but which, for you, would presently be listed under category 3.
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Last edited by high voltage : 03-15-2005 at 01:50 PM.
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Old 02-26-2005, 02:42 PM   #2
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Column Rough Copy

Once you have completed your brainstorming and column outline, it?s about time to form your rough copy. You would be surprised how many people miss this step, it?s a required necessity, please understand that! Many people get confused at this stage of writing, they question whether it?s really required, and well, it is! I?m not going to give you the option of failure so make sure you listen closely! Instead of confusing yourself, take the outline and format it into a paragraph fashion. Be sure to include a header, footer or whatever you see best fits. Now head on over to UG Contribution and prepare for some excellent feedback!


Column Good Copy

You're not ready to submit your column just yet, however the good news is you?re almost done. It?s time to write your final draft. With your rough copy close at hand, feedback from UG Contribution and your new profound vocabulary this will be a piece of cake!

Basically, it?s time to infill the information from UG Contribution into your column as they recommended. However, if you disagree with their suggestions, instead of ignoring, or just caving in and listening, reply back! I?m one hundred percent sure their comments can be justified. Don?t be harsh if they misunderstood you, or your column. People make mistakes, it happens! Believe me; I?ve made my fair share.

Once you?ve composed your good copy, it?s time for approval. Not by the big man, zappp, but the approval of yourself. If you don?t like your column, change it until you love it! If it doesn?t have enough of what you want, change it! It?s your column; don?t let anything or anyone stop you. If the column meets your approval, continue reading for more information on submitting your column properly! If it doesn?t, continue to edit until it does meet your approval.

Submitting Your Column

It?s hilarious the titles some people will name their column, along with their description, mistakes can occur, easily! Generally, when picking a column title make sure it relates to the column. I know that sounds obvious, but you would be surprised! Try not to make your column title long (over 25 characters) and keep it as simple as possible. If your title confuses people, who is to say the column will be too?

If you?re writing a column about UG's spelling and grammar for example, and you thought the spelling on UG was really bad don?t title your column ?The Spelling on UG is bad? try ?UG Spelling Issues?. Notice how I shortened the title, and steamed it into one small package? I turned a sentence into a catchy phrase.

Regarding the descriptions, I strongly recommend copy and pasting the first few sentences in your column. It gives them a sample of your column, if they don?t like the sample, they won?t click the link. That could save you one less bad star and comment! Don?t copy and paste any sentence, make sure it correlates to the column. As for the category you assign your column to be placed in, it?s really up to you.

Three keys to Success

I?ve informed you of a lot of information but I think these three points stand out the most and I would like you to acknowledge that. Here are the three keys to success when writing a column:

Always write a column that meets your approval.
Always write a column based on a topic and thesis you enjoy.
Always consult with UG Contribution before submitting!

Conclusion

In conclusion, I can almost guarantee your column will be above a three star average if you follow my steps and listen to my advice! I honestly believe in you guys, I?ve seen some really intelligent UGers who never seem to submit columns, why that is, I don?t know. Hopefully, this encouraged some people and if at least one member stands up and submits a column, thank you, I couldn?t ask for more. Congratulations, best of luck writing!

Sincerely,

Chris.
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Last edited by high voltage : 02-27-2005 at 11:32 AM.
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Old 09-06-2005, 04:26 AM   #3
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May I just add, MAKE SURE YOU ARE LOGGED IN WHEN YOU SUBMIT YOUR COLUMN!

It WILL NO LONGER BE ACCEPTED if not.
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