Internet columnists have been berated and belittled since their inception, passed off as pimple-ridden angst vessels, typing their half-witted opinions on their dad’s laptop when they’re supposed to be doing chemistry homework. An opinion that is often confirmed by some aspiring writers, however, the majority of writers are literate and compelling fans-come-columnists, offering a fans-eye-view of the ins and outs of the business, although they themselves may have no direct part in the production.
Internet writing is still seen as a past time that anyone can take up casually one weekend, but there’s an art to it. Arduous practice and training molds a fledgling writer into a major player of the internet wrestling community. The pool of wrestling columnists is cyclical, as the veterans retire or move on, space is made for newer writers to come to the fore, and spaces for passionate newcomers to begin their climb up the ladder. And so fresh opinions are eternally available for fans.
In truth, the only means of developing as a writer is practise and lots of it. Each article you write adds the tiniest chunk of experience to your repertoire, and over time these ‘chunks’ will accumulate, and a writer will get into a rhythm in which they can hopefully maintain for the rest of their career. Nevertheless, I’ve seen a lot of new writers break into the realm of editorials with varied success, but regardless of achievement there are several common mistakes that every young writer seems to make at one time or another. If left unattended, the mistakes will iron themselves out eventually, but if noticed early can make the rise to fame all that more hasty.
The single biggest component of any article is its idea. Concept is the skeleton in which the ‘flesh’ of the article is built, so it has to be solid and substantial. As long as the foundation is strong and allows for extensive discussion, it provides a confident direction to head in. Apart from the concept being substantial, it must also be fresh and innovative. There have been so many columns that ‘predict’ Pay-Per-Views, criticize Triple H, and list the greatest ever feuds, that they’ve all formed respective villages in the deep rainforest of the Amazon. If you’re are determined to explore an issue which has already inundated message boards and wrestling news sites, make sure that you are putting a new spin on it, some form of distinction between your article and the rest of it’s generic fellow village people. If you predict that your concept is going to be repetitive or that it won’t have enough potential to satisfy a reasonable length column, just put serious thought into finding another that does. No one is forcing you to write about it. If there is no concept that you can base a detailed and academic essay on, don’t write, there’s no point writing simply because you feel you have to. Readers would prefer two outstanding articles a month, rather than four mediocre ones.
Once you’ve decided upon a topic, you next need to settle on how your article is to be structured. Structure is the single biggest aspect of article writing that columnists new and old tend to fiddle with, almost always resulting with dismal results. On the surface, it may seem interesting and simple to base your column on an inventory of bullet points, but it only succeeds in making your article come across as fragmented and disjointed. The tried and tested formula is a general essay format; it’s clean, fluid, and very accessible. Experiment if you feel necessary, but it will soon become apparent that your opinion will only get tangled in the intricate column layout.
The subtleties of column writing are often the most vital in order for an article to be compelling. Register is not often a term considered when you put pen to paper, but it’s a simple device that improves the column beyond words. Register refers to the tone of voice and point of view your column uses, for instance an informative third person tone, or a conversational first person tone. Each option instills the article with an atmosphere the reader will notice subconsciously. The register of natural choice for inexperienced writers is the opinionated first person tone. At one stage or another, everyone has read an article which gives the impression it is being spat from the mouth of a bitter teenager, and it only serves to annihilate any integrity the article may have otherwise had. If done correctly, first person can be successful, but it requires a lot of practice to refine the style. Third person has it’s own disadvantages, as it’s impersonal and often sterile, but it’s a much safer space to work in. Regardless of which register is chosen, it must be made sure that it exudes the intelligence that you feel you are injecting into the article, nothing is worse than an outstanding concept hidden under a mess of opinion.
Wrestling writers, whether they like to admit it or not, are amateur writers. No matter how talented a columnist may be, he or she is still going to be recognised as a hack by the greater writing community. But this doesn’t discount a writer from writing like a professional. People read your article for your opinion, and the best way to assert your opinion as a professional is to write it like you are a professional. In no uncertain terms outline your opinion, give evidence, and analyze its effects. As long as your idea is supported by a backbone of solid evidence, you’re correct in your thoughts.
So once a writer has his or her article all written, complete with outstanding concept, professional structure, appropriate register and outlines a believable opinion, there’s one final step. Editing. If you don’t notice an error as you write, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, so re-read your own article before posting it. Nothing repulses a reader more than missing words, poor grammar, and miss spelt words. No matter how outstanding an article is, it can be completely decimated by illiteracy. Once an article is posted, it’s on an international stage for a million people to refer to as an official opinion of pro wrestling.
The reasons for writing vary from person to person, some do it for glory, some do it as an avenue into the business, but I think you will find that the majority do it because it comes as an instinct, something that people can only explain they do because they have an intangible passion. No average wrestling fan would spend hours each week honing his or her skills labouring at a grimy keyboard to produce an article that no one may ever read. It takes an extraordinary person to do that, and that’s why good or bad, terrible or outstanding, all writers should be encouraged, because of the simple act of spending time on a column is enough to prove anyone as someone to admire to and to be read by millions of wrestling fans worldwide.
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