It has been almost a year since I started writing the Ninth Circle. I was preparing a column for that anniversary, but soon realised I had enough material for not one, but two articles. I have brought forward one of those, as it seems timely to talk about how I approach writing the Ninth Circle, as the site is now looking for some new columnists.
If you think have what it takes to write a column, fortnight in, fortnight out, that visitors to the site will enjoy. You can see what Flux is looking for by reading the short info piece on the site. You should also look at the past columns that have appeared here. The difference between a guest writer and a columnist is more than just the number of articles.
You have to know your audience, write pieces that people will be interested not just in reading, but also in responding to. My main measure of the success of each column is how many feedback emails I receive. It has ranged from over 100 to less than a dozen, giving me some valuable lessons in what the readership here is interested in.
Over the first few months of writing the columns I designed a conceptual system of concentric circles, into which I place each article. It probably sounds a bit complex, but what it does is help me see just how much appeal a subject is likely to have, and also how to frame my writing. I won?t torture you with a crude MS Word drawing; I?ll just talk you through the circles, from the inner-most to the outer-most.
This is the one reason that brings us all here. That?s why this site is called diabloii.net. Having this as the inner-most circle does not mean that every article, or even most of them, should be directly about this game. Really, that is what the guest articles are for, as well as Flux?s column, and they do that job very well.
What this means is that everything should be related back to the game, where applicable. As an example, if I?m writing a column about how computer games could be used as the basis for another fantasy film, I?ll cite Diablo II, even if I might feel Ultima V, or some other game, would be better. That is because I know that people who read this article have played the game, and so can relate to my reference point, regardless of whether or not they agree with it.
The second circle is Blizzard, the company that brought us the game we all know and love. They brought us some other games too, and they can be worth mentioning in passing. What projects the company might next embark on is something most readers here have an opinion on. As with the first circle, Blizzard are best used more as a reference point than as a focus for an article.
Computer Games Industry
The third circle is where I like to park most of my articles. They can be freely related back to the focal points of circles one and two, but cove a wide range of topics, from micro questions about role-playing, industry future articles, favourite games of the past, and much much more. If you have a lot to say in this area, then you might want to consider becoming a columnist.
The fourth circle sees us move outside computers, but still stay within Diablo 2?s frame of reference. It?s safe to assume that people still playing a fantasy computer game years after its release are interested in the fantasy genre as a whole. Books, films, and ruminations on the genre all fit nicely into this circle. This is the other main target circle that I aim articles towards.
With the fifth circle we finally move away from Diablo 2 completely. It?s a reasonable bet that fantasy fans enjoy a good bit of science fiction now and then too. Articles that look into this area are not a bad option, but I wouldn?t want to base a column on diabloii.net around the genre.
The next circle is probably the most inward-looking. It is here I talk about what I?m talking about now. As you can see looking back at the history of my articles. Columns of this nature are few and far between. There are more interesting things to write about here, and more appropriate places to talk about the craft of writing.
The seventh and final circle (unlike Dante, I couldn?t make it to nine!). I like to think of this as the “reaction” circle. If something happens in the big wide world that I really feel the need to talk about, it will go into the forward plan. It?s likely to get knocked back in favour of an article from one of the other circles, but the option remains there. Generally, the more of the other circles I can relate one of these article to, the more likely I am to run with it.
What you have read above is my basic approach to writing the Ninth Circle. It may help you if you are thinking about a column of your own. For the rest of you, you now know a little more about the approach I take to writing these columns. Don?t worry, I?m not about to stop!
Disclaimer: The Ninth Circle was written by Lorelorn (David Kay) and hosted by Diii.net. The views expressed in these columns are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Diii.net.