Why do we write? It's the fundamental question we should all ask ourselves before we put fingers to keyboard, so it seemed like the best beginning for our Creators Academy Program. If you've made it this far, it's because you're a writer. You want to learn more, consume as much information as you can, and be the best you can be. Whether writing is a fun hobby, or you're looking to take it to that next level ($$$$), you've taken the first step.
Before we can get into how to craft the perfect article, we need to answer that question: Why do we write? When you write an article and hit the publish button, what impression do you want to leave on the reader? Knowing the reason you're writing or the goal of the piece allows you to measure your success when you set out to discuss/argue or theorize. To help us tackle that hurdle, we've enlisted the help of some of our most successful writers, both Creators and in-house staff.
Jon Negroni: Pixar Detective
Why do you write: For me, my personal brand is built on one of my favorite things in this world: writing. I’m able to get my thoughts down in a cathartic blur of nerdy goodness, and then I can sit down with my work and make it as amazing as I can before publishing it on MoviePilot, where thousands of people are waiting to hear what I have to say.
Take Home Tip: Know your limitations. Know what you’re good at. Know what you’re passionate about. Know what makes you even the tiniest bit unique from everyone else. And know what kind of "building" you want to make for your brand. It’s probably going to change a lot over time, but this is a good first step for getting your building off the ground. Also, it’s intimidating, but let yourself be influenced by the best writers on the web today. Take notes on how their personalities are expressed through their written voice, so you can do the same for yours.
Jancy Richardson: Horror Legend
Why do you write: I write partly because I love it, and partly because it seems to happen whether I mean to or not. Before I wrote for a living, I found myself writing things regardless of whether they fit into my daily routine. I want to share my love of horror with others because I can't shut up about it, and MoviePilot is a nice way to share that love without making my long-suffering friends hate me. I also love to entertain people: I want to move people, make them think I'm funny. I wanna be adored, and I'm guessing you do too.
Take-home tip: Write what you would want to read — and be honest with yourself about what that means. Think about this from every angle down to what kind of images catch your eye. For example, I am an unabashed gorehound and will click on any ultra-bloody image if I don't know what movie it's from; my curiosity just won't let that slide. Now you know how to make me read anything you like.
Karly Rayner: Celeb Savant
Why do you write: I write because I love words and shuffling the sneaky little bastards around into absurd combinations to get a chortle out of your fair lips. I can't get enough of chomping up celeb gossip and spitting it out again in a way that shines a light into the dark cavern of absurdity that lurks just behind the high gloss facade of Hollywood.
Take-home tip: Less is more, unless it comes to puns, in which case more is more. Try and look for little nuggets that haven't been mined to death by the internet yet. An article about "Britney's Most Ying Yangtastic '90s Jewelry Moments" is way more fun than one about "The Dark Reasons Behind Britney's Head Shaving Crisis," because, let's face it — we've heard that story more times than we've had hot dinners. Be fresh, be fabulous, be freakayyyyyyyy!
Jonathan Carlin: Youtube Theorist
Why do you write? I love all of the tiny details in movies, books and TV because there is often a lot happening in the background of most stories that may or may not have to do with the story itself. This could be the historical significance of certain places, the psychology of different characters, or just finding that darn Pizza Planet truck, wherever it may show up! Whatever it is, unearthing these little secrets and sharing them with others is a passion of mine and that is why I vlog.
Take-Home Tip: Ask lots of questions and just keep writing. If you have ever watched or read something and had questions about the characters or plot or just felt something was unresolved, try and get to the bottom of that question. Chances are, others have had the same thought and offering your interpretation on the matter will open the door for more enthusiasts to get in on the conversation and engage with your content. Also, just keep writing. If you're just getting started I always recommend making a schedule and sticking to it — HARD. The more seriously you take it, the more seriously people will take you.
Tim Horton: Gaming Wizard
Why do you write? I want to bring people into my world, not only to talk about the things I love, but to be the one that breaks the latest news with others who share my passion; from a fan to a fan — no middle man. MoviePilot gave me the key to millions of like-minded people who wanted nothing more than to talk about the stuff I wanted to write about. From video games to superheroes, the world is my oyster and I love where I am now.
Take-Home Tip: First and foremost, be yourself. The most unique thing about you is your personality, use it! Write with passion and enthusiasm, bring people into your world. Don’t let your sole focus be about readership — trust me, that develops and grows as you do and it doesn’t take long! Write like you talk; if you’re passionate, that passion will shine through in your writing. Make everything you write about an experience that you want your audience to be part of and always leave them wanting more.
Amie Marie Bohannon: Professional Fan Girl
Why do you write? I write because it allows me to share my voice, uninhibited. I want my audience to feel that they can count on me for a unique and exciting take on things they are passionate about. I always try to leave their mind blown, with a strong opinion on whatever I discuss, whether they agree or not!
Take-Home Tip: As a creator, it's important that when you get an idea for a piece, you stick to it. Follow your passion and over-deliver! Being confident in your content will make readers feel safe to engage and share. Strive to create a reaction in people that read your stuff; make people talk!
Scott McCann: Man of Many Masks
Why do you write? First and foremost writing is a passion of mine. I love sitting in front of a book or laptop and transcribing what's in my head onto paper/screen. When writing for Creators or our new Champions site, I always try to come across with the same authorial voice; whether it be an article on current movie news, an editorial/opinion piece on a UFC fighter, or helping indie projects find a broader audience.
Take-Home tip: Simple: write about what you love! Here at Creators, we're blessed to have so many talented writers who share interests in many different areas. My more tangible advice would be to make sure you format your article with a narrative that flows throughout. If you find it interesting and fun to read, I can guarantee fans will come for more.
Kit Simpson Browne: Supes Lore
Why do you write? I grew up loving superheroes and Star Wars, and now I get to write about them every day. If what I'm writing gets across a little of that love for the subject matter — and preferably a few goofy jokes — then I feel like I'm doing my job. Doubly so when the content touches on something from the real world that deserves to be given more attention, whether that's the way that the film industry works, the prejudices lying within it, or how we all treat one another as fans.
Take-home tip: Find your own personal style. While it's incredibly important to adapt to the requirements of the house style — as well as to each individual piece — it's just as important to find your own voice. Sure, it's probably better if that voice isn't just shouting, or massively overburdened with reader-alienating bias, but it's ultimately what'll make your writing unique, and what'll keep people reading.
Allanah Faherty: The Walking Dead Encyclopedia
Why do you write: When I write an article I generally want to try and make my audience as excited about a particular topic as I am. I also want the readers to know that the person writing the article has a genuine interest in what they're writing about, and wants to impart their knowledge on readers.
Take-home tip: While you might be an expert on a particular genre or franchise, I think it's really important to always include your fanbase. As the main Walking Dead writer, I usually try to ask the readers what they think about a particular scene or character after an episode (a good way to do this is a poll or call to action at the end of the article). I think it helps build a rapport with your readers, and everyone loves being asked for their opinion.
Chapter One Assignment
We're going to start off nice and easy — your first assignment is not to write a complete article. In order to level up your writing skills, you first need to develop healthy habits. We've broken your first assignment into 3 simple steps:
Step 1 is to complete your character profile, and really think about the topics you love and why you love to write about them.
Step 2 is to build a 'writers checklist' - something to come back to before you publish each article throughout the course. Make sure to download the 'writers checklist' here and keep it as a reference throughout your time in the academy.
Step 3 is to write a potential headline for your first article, 3 points of discussion and an article summary.
*Make sure to write down/copy & past your responses somewhere as you may be asked about them again down the line!
Don't know where to start? Here's a mental checklist to help you get writing:
- Think of a topic you're truly passionate about. Got it? OK - great start!
- Now think about the audience you want to reach - what about this topic would they be excited to read? Teach them something, convince them of something, make them laugh, make them cry - make the audience feel something.
- Once you start writing, ask yourself: do I have a unique angle? Am I using the knowledge and passion I have as a fan to engage my target audience?
Top Tip for lesson One: One thing that will always help you not only come up with great article ideas, but grow in your love and understanding of your favorite topics/ genres is to engage in communities around that topic. Find and consume the writers you love - really think about what makes them great. Why do you enjoy reading their work? How do they get you, as a reader, excited about the subject? Don't just rely on your own knowledge and style - expand your horizons, get into discussions with fans and writers and you will be infinitely more successful in your own writing journey and depth of perspective.
Here's a couple of passion-riddled examples from our community we think you should read:
- Born To Be A Superhero: How Batman Changes Lives
- Who Is Squirrel Girl, and Why Do So Many People Want Her to Join the MCU?
- We Lumpin Love It! 3 Things That Adults Love About Adventure Time