I first discovered Everything2 through a hit on Google which led me to riverrun
’s writeup on Bhagavan Das
. Months later, I became enamored with the content of the website and I felt the exciting urge to contribute something. Not just any old thing, but something that I had experienced first hand, something that I felt with passion
. A passionate subject that should be shared with the world. I wanted my readers to not only know what I was writing about, I wanted them to care
as deeply about my subject as I cared about it. Just as importantly, I wanted to write it well. I wanted my subject to be well researched and well-written. Since then, I have written many different things. Not all of them I have cared about as deeply. Yet, when writing anything, I try to judge what I am writing about from the perspective of our readers on E2 and I ask myself two basic questions: "What am I reading about? Why should I care?"
Lately, I have been reading an increasing number of writeups published which have poor or incomplete theses. When I encounter such writeups, I do not have a good idea of what the author is trying to make me understand nor why I should care enough to continue reading! Occasionally, I see a writeup which has a total lack of formatting. When I see a cube full of words, how am I going to pick a thesis out of that? To be honest, I don’t even try. I move on to the next writeup which catches my eye.
Many of these writeups with poor theses are published by inexperienced users. Not too long ago, I was inexperienced as well. After publishing my first writeup, I really did not always feel as passionately about many of the things that I wrote about. I simply wanted to have a voice, to know that it was being read, and that it was appreciated. Even when writing light-heartedly, I feel that it is very important to create a strong thesis.
Since becoming an editor, I went back through my contributions and removed a number of writeups which failed to answer the second question, ”Why should I care.”
One of these was Existentialist Wisdom in the Vicinity of Roosevelt and Western. I asked myself, “Was it really all that important to share a story from my pothead youth about a bee in a car.” Not really. Moreover, I found myself guilty of coming up with a flashy, eye-catching title for the sake of having a flashy, eye-catching title. I admit to using sensationalism now and again, as inspiration may strike one, but this writeup was just passionless. My own writing failed to stir anything within myself so I nuked it and a few other things that I judged unworthy of E2.
Of course, the body of every writeup should support its thesis. Yet without a proper introduction, nobody is even going to be inspired to read the rest of your work! If you find yourself wondering if your writeup is suffering from a poor introduction, ask yourself, "What is this about and why should I care?" Even when writing a daylog, you should be creating a thesis. Go further than simply telling us about the events in your day and answer our question, “Why should we care about what is going on in your life?” Create empathy!
If you are really unsure of how your writing will be received, read it aloud to yourself or to another. Does it sound the way you think it should sound? If you were to hear yourself on the radio, would your argument come across clearly, would it be engaging, or would you change the channel?
Help on E2 is almost always freely given. Most folks in the catbox would be glad to answer your questions. We all were new to the site at one time. If you desire feedback from editors on this site, please set your writeup status to REVIEW. I would be happy to give you feedback. That is one of our jobs as editors. Personally, I set nearly all of my writeups to REVIEW because my writeups are often full of typos. Some editors are very good at catching typos. Of course, this should not mean that you should neglect to proofread your work. We content editors are all volunteers on E2 and have mean bosses, nagging spouses and ungrateful kids just like you. All we ask is that you give us your best efforts, be patient and we will get back to you as soon as we can. If we criticize your work, whether you asked for it or not, at the very least, have some grace, eh?
As far as a personal editorial policy, I feel most strongly as to creating proper introductions and inspiring emotion in the readership. I have often taken a critical eye in this regard to others’ work and have downvoted or sent messages to users who have published writeups with weak or incomplete theses. If you get a message for me along these lines, please take my criticisms wisely. It is not that I disagree with what I think you have to say, I am telling you, “You have failed to motivate me to even continue reading your work.”
Harsh? Well, are you here to become a better writer, or not? If you so desire, you can publish StuartO))) has his head up his ass and could not write his way out of a wet paper sack. As long as you have made a compelling and thoughtful argument, I might even agree with you!
Thank you for your contributions!