Disclaimer: This is not the greatest editorial in the world. In fact, it's not even a tribute (or an editorial). This is, however, a guide to writing great editorials while increasing your chances of making the front page. In the words of William H. Bonney from Young Guns 2: I'll make you famous.
What an Editorial is Not:
An editorial, by definition, is an opinion piece that extends beyond the opinion of a game, a movie, an object, or the trivial and mundane. An editorial is not an update of your opinion of a certain title, or your opinion of a title after finishing it. An editorial does not ramble randomly. An editorial does not scratch the surface. An editorial is not coverage from a show or your opinion regarding an event. An editorial is never a status update!
Go it? Good. Now for something constructive.
What an Editorial Is:
An editorial is an opinion piece that covers current topics, subjects, arguments and industry trends. A rant about Resident Evil 6 earing a 4.5 review is not an editorial--but writing about modern reviewer's bias towards first parties games is. See the difference? I hope so.
Writing a Great Editorial:
An editorial should be more than just an opinion, even if it's directed towards a larger theme like nudity in games or the rise of mature titles: A great editorial backs its argument with facts, cited when necessary, and is knowledgeable about both sides of an issue. A great editorial includes as many of the 5 w's when necessary (who, what, when, where, and why) but expands beyond stereotypical writing and includes the why it's important to readers and the why they should care. Naturally, it's better to show in writing than it is to tell with words, and that's just as applicable with editorial writing.
The best editorials also cover issues currently trending. This means being aware of the world around you and the workings of the industry and its audience. It takes time, it takes being knowledgeable about a broad spectrum of topics, and it means taking a little heat from your readers from time to time. You can't write to please everyone! Besides, if all gamer's had educated opinions, Call of Duty as a franchise wouldn't have existed after the second installment of Modern Warfare 2. See what I did there? Now, if I was writing an editorial I'd back that opinion with fact. Oh, and did I mention a great editorial invites conversation? Well, there you go.
Finally, the greatest secret to becoming a good writer--be it with blogging, writing editorials, or just writing assignments for class--is simple: Read often, write often. It takes practice, and even professionals have off days. Push yourself, but be forgiving if you don't succeed right away. And don't think I'm joking about reading either! Learn from the masters! Better men and women have gone on before you and you'd be a fool to not learn from their example. Besides, if you don't enjoy reading you might as well give up the craft of writing right now. That's right, turn that TV on and drift back into insignificance. The two go hand in hand.
Well, I hope that helps. Anyone interested in having their work featured on the front page should check out writing for Chalk Talk first. Many of us got our start there and the topics are always interesting. Also, add me as a friend or drop me a line if you need a little help. I've been fortunate enough over the years to receive a lot of help from others so I'm more than willing to return the favor to anyone interested in improving their writing.
Always good to have some extra tips out there. Anything that promotes good writing is more than welcome.
Wish I had the time to write an editorial or two here. Inspiration strikes pretty regularly, but I've got a career to think about, so all my works tend to end up elsewhere. Maybe one of these days I'll have the time to contribute something for a change...
I'm going to have to disagree with you here, Saigo. While there's no doubt a rant about RE6's poor review score is unlikely to make for a compelling read, that fact isn't enough for the piece to be disqualified as an editorial. If upi want to get technical, *none* of these articles are editorials, because by definition an editorial is an opinion piece written by an editor. Used in this colloquial sense, however, an editorial is simply an opinion piece sans the "editor" requirement.
I do appreciate the call for higher-quality writing, though.
@JBStone1981 The written-by-an-editor bit is just one example of what could make an editorial--rather than a solid rule. The actual definition of an editorial that I think you're drawing from is this:
Noun: A newspaper article written by or on behalf of an editor that gives an opinion on a topical issue.
So you are correct to some degree, but not entirely. Besides, a rant is not an editorial since it's not a topical issue...but I wouldn't argue too harshly against that if it had relevance at the time or was written against a larger topic.
I understand what you're saying but I'm trying to capture the style as a whole rather than nitpicking at one technical detail.
@-Saigo- No, what you said was "An editorial, by definition, is an opinion piece that extends beyond the opinion of a game, a movie, an object, or the trivial and mundane. An editorial is not an update of your opinion of a certain title, or your opinion of a title after finishing it. An editorial does not ramble randomly. An editorial does not scratch the surface. An editorial is not coverage from a show or your opinion regarding an event. "
This is incorrect. While I applaud you call for higher standards among bloggers, you can't just make up your definitions. An editorial is simply an opinion piece. Discussing the low score given to RE6 is an editorial, whether you like it or not.
I'm just saying, I agree with what you said in principle, but I don't agree with your homemade definition of what constitutes an editorial.
@JBStone1981 I disagree. And it's not a home-made definition--whether YOU like it or not ;)
Besides, you just switched your definition from being an article written by an editor to a opinion piece...which I've said all along, with the exception that, an editorial covers a topical issue and not a stagnant opinion. It makes an argument--rather than simply stating an opinion.
A blog, discussing the low score given to RE6, could be an editorial if it made that argument as to why or why not...verse a rant that went off stating it was unfair (without solid proof or argument) etc. It is not a update of your opinion so far.
Regardless, I think we're saying the same thing but getting lost in the trivialities of a loose definition. If anything, my writing would be to blame for not making that as clear as possible. Thank you for pointing out the cracks and filling them in where I may have failed.
Unfortunately this won't stop terrible editorials from being written and some will always slip through the cracks.
Hmmm, interesting insight. I love reading as much as I love writing, and my own blogging has suffered in recent days. I better step up my game!
@ken_athomos Thanks a lot! I think a lot of people are confused by what an editorial is and writing is extremely difficult if you're not sure what you're trying to do! Besides, I was able to learn a lot myself while writing this up :)
Great stuff, this man speaks the truth! Especially the reading part. If you don't read, don't write.Even though this isn't so much on the topic of editorial writing but more general tips, can I also add that writing for your audience is so key. It sounds so generic and vague, but when you write, have the mindset of the type of people you want to read it with you at all times. Don't always write it like they would, but make sure they would stay interested.
A key way to do this is to just labour over turns of phrase and descriptive language. When writing about Dark Souls rather than write "The room was dark and misty." Try to express such as "The thick fog descended upon the room as I ventured deeper into the darkness, death's cold embrace getting closer with every step I took" This may seem obvious but its something people miss out. When writing about fantasy, write in 'fantasy speak'. If you were to write about the next Halo may something along the lines of "Valiant spartans pushed the enemy, breaking lines of defence as Master Chief moved from room to room dispatching enemies with swift precision.
These tactics engage the audience more, although you aren't telling a story in over chapters try to remember that words are tools for you to use. Creating a pace in your articles is crucial and using words that are associated with what you are writing is one of the best tactics you can use. Remember to quicken the pace in action sections using words with fewer syllables and for much longer eloquent words for bringing a slower, more majestic and liberating momentum.
Lastly, NEVER, EVER (use caps) and most certainly do not stick long sentences inside sentence within brackets (it becomes really annoying and detracts from the previous point you were making) Also never publish the first draft, take an hour, maybe a day, just make sure you come back to take a look with fresh eyes. Plenty of people publish something knowing about certain facts in their heads from things they have read. Your readers may not know about the things you do. Make sure that if you are making a claim, you explain why that claim is valid.
I could be preaching to the converted, but I think they are some golden rules that are overlooked sometimes. Once again, great article Saigo! Keep it up.
@SuperMassive20 the greatest writers break the rules in all the right places. sure, there are key attributes to good writing, but great writing, well, it stands above for a reason.
@SuperMassive20 Audience is key. Great point! This is a great comment, you have a lot of fantastic writing advice in here. Hopefully more people see this!
Thanks for posting, this clarifies things for me. Based on what was getting published to the "Awesome User Blogs" and Soapbox sections, it seemed as though these spots were open to other kinds of blogs like reviews and impressions as well. Now that I know that they're technically not (even though I'm still not sure why such pieces were getting featured), I'll be sure to mark my blogs more appropriately.
@WTA2k5 Yeah you're right. Some users, only a handful luckily, are abusing their posting privileges. Hopefully this clears things up for those of them who are doing it unintentionally as their postings can mislead others who are trying to get featured themselves. Luckily Gamespot is working on some sort of policy to revoke the privileges of repeat offenders...but who knows when it'll be implemented and how strict they'll be.
But just keep writing editorials, real editorials, and you'll be featured in no time. Also, check out chalk talk if you haven't already...that's honestly the fast track to getting your orator of distinction badge.
This is part of the reason why I don't do editorials. I come here to have fun and talk about games. Writing an in-depth article on something is not those things. I'm almost surprised that there is a place for topics like that on the site.
You can really throw around facts and figures as much as you want, but in the end it doesn't really prove a thing. You're just talking about games. And I'd personally rather do that the fun and easy way.
@Ovirew sure, you can write editorials. you may do whatever you want, and you would be surprised how your style may resonate with others. why not give it a shot and have some fun if it's something you'd like to do?
@Ovirew Some people like it...myself included when the mood strikes me. But facts are facts and they do prove points--the problem however--is regardless of all the facts in the world, some people will never change their opinion.
But yeah, it is a game site isn't it? Great community, but not a lot of people come here for life-changing discussions.
Fantastic write up. This seriously needed to be said. Thank you for being the jerk the rest of us couldn't ;)
@Sefrix Haha it's in my nature. So far it hasn't changed much...it seems the repeat offenders are too busy writing garbage and tagging it as "editorial" to read what others are writing.
glad someone had the guts to do this! I know we got slammed by a certain someone for speaking up, but I really feel like some blogs deserve the spotlight and some not - to put every one of your blogs up to be read by all isn't fair, but ultimately, I think most visitors will just ignore them because there are so many. Well said!
@pokecharm I think we're passionate about it because we both went so long without soapbox emblems, regardless of the quality editorials we were posting. It's insanely frustrating to see someone posting garbage on the front page, simply because they have a badge, when quality editorials are either getting bumped from the spotlight or, worse case scenario, not getting noticed at all.
@-Saigo- well, and the response to our comments was really argumentative and unneeded, to me, it stunk of his own guilt. He knows that by marking the blogs a certain way, he will get the widest audience and doesn't care about anyone else, period.
i've just given up on chalk talk, i am appalled at the idea that it's a lesser ranking than AUB by the staff when they don't even need to be compared. basically we were told that chalk talk is like "tryouts" for AUB, and you can only get into AUB if you're one of the "elite" posters out there, and i just decided front page isn't worth it. just another clique in my book.
enjoying reading helps, but it is not the be-all-end-all. i personally dislike reading. i know i would be a better writer if i read more, but i do fine as it is :) it's a shame that you use this to encourage people to quit something they may otherwise enjoy. what if writing becomes their gateway to reading?
@zyxe That's a good point and I suppose I'm slightly biased when it comes to reading. I personally haven't met any successful writers (and by successful, I mean legitimately published) who aren't avid readers. Generally people write because they've read something they like...but I can see it going both ways.
Maybe my comment was a little harsh :P I would never try to dissuade someone from writing--I just feel very adamant about reading as well.
Good examples of topical, well-constructed, thought-provoking editorials...
and the follow-up piece...
@s_h_a_d_o I'm glad you added this. Great examples.
There's an obvious bias against the gaming press in general, and a lack of examples for their points. For example, the Gerstmann fiasco had more to it than simply the Cain & Lynch review and the advertisements for the game. There had been some issues with Gerstmann among Gamespot's management at the time leading up to the review, and the Cain & Lynch review seemed to be more the straw that broke the camel's back.
Also, this statement is totally unsupported: "The gaming press is deeply distrusted by its readership."
Says who? A bunch of rabid Mass Effect fans?
Anyway, I got my point across. A far better editorial about the state of the gaming press is the controversial and provocative editorial referenced by Forbes and written by Robert Florence(for which he left Eurogamer following threats of legal action):
@s_h_a_d_o @-Saigo- Fair enough, but their tone is just totally negative toward all the rest of the gaming press. It's not all doom and gloom, and they seem to have a disdain for every other gaming publication except theirs.
I'm just irritated with Forbes (and Erik Kain in particular) for their elitist commentary about the supposed corruption of video game journalism.
Forgive my rant. Mostly, I don't like Kain's condescending attitude.
Yeah, I said good, not perfect.
One of the main reasons I pointed these particular examples out, is because the author had fully embraced *and expanded upon* the controversial issues raised by the very recent events surrounding Robert Florence's article in Eurogamer (to which you point), where few others are pursuing either the concerns mentioned, or the events resulting from Florence's publication. They also contain additional references to excerpts from the original article that have subsequently been removed from that in the link you have provided.