Writing Tips For Getting Published. Part Two.

by FlyingMonkey | February 23, 2015 | (9) Posted in Tips


If you're reading this, chances are you fall into at least one of three categories:

  1. You're new to writing articles and would like any advice you can find.  
  2. You've submitted an article and instead of approving it, I gave you this link.  
  3. You are very bored, and read every article published here.  

Whichever the case, I hope to share some tips about writing articles that will help improve your writing, get you published, and cure you of some of that boredom instead of adding to it.  This article is a continuation of another article I wrote that gave a general outline of what we're looking for in article submissions.  It went over the three parts of a well-written article.  

The other article also gave a few examples from authors who have a good grasp of what an article should be.  In this article, I will briefly review that, but I will also point out some common issues that prevent articles from being published.  

The goal of this article is to help a new author learn how to express their ideas clearly in a format appropriate for the articles section.  It is also to be used as a tool by myself or other editors/moderators to help authors who submit articles understand why their submission wasn't approved, and what they can do to improve it enough to pass a follow-up submission.  Well, that should be enough of an "introduction", let's get on to the "body" of the article.

Review of the previous article:  Intro/Body/Conclusion

In my previous article, I wrote about the three parts of of an article.  Those are the introduction, the body, and the conclusion.  To quickly recap: the introduction tells the reader what the objective of the article is or can be a simple summary that tells the reader what they're about to read.  The body is the message you're trying to convey and should be broken up by topics. Detailed descriptions belong here, not in the introduction. The conclusion is a brief review of what you told them.

Many submissions are uncoordinated jumbles of thought typed into the computer.  They contain good information, but in a format that is hard for the reader to understand. Some submissions are so convoluted that the author becomes "lost" and may omit key concepts that they wished to convey.  A well-written article will take more time to compose than a similar forum post.  The author should put a little extra effort into outlining the information they plan to share before writing it down.  

The introduction helps the author outline, for themselves as well as the reader, the content that will be presented.  It also helps set the order in which the information will be presented.  

The body of material should be thorough and complete.  If the article describes the steps of a project, make sure that all of the steps are included and explained.  Pictures should be used to help illustrate the what is being described in each step.  

The conclusion should briefly restate what you wrote about.  It's a chance to go over what you intended to describe in your article.  It is also a great place to talk about what your expectations were, whether they were met, and to express your opinion.  If you were doing an article about an aircraft you designed and built, this is the place where you could go over what you hoped the aircraft would do, and where it may have fallen short.  If you didn't make the adjustments prior to the article, you can point out the changes that you intend to make in the future versions of the aircraft. It is best to express your opinions about things like materials here instead of in the body of the article. Throwing an opinion about something, like foam thickness, into a list of detailed build steps may confuse the reader as well as interrupt the flow of your article.


Common issues that prevent an article from being approved.

Now onto the meat of this article: presently I am the only person that's approving articles that are being submitted.  This means I read, or at least review them all.  There's certain article submissions that just get the prewritten reply because the article is missing something that is required by the Flite Test staff.  There's also some that are close to being approved, but just need a little bit of adjustment, so I will take the time to write to these authors directly.  I'll list and explain of these types of stumbling blocks now.

  • Video only.  This has been the most frequent reason for not getting an article approved.  The articles section is an online magazine.  The submissions are called articles because they are expected to be written submissions that can be supplemented by a video, but are not intended to be a place to post just a video.  Even the Flite Test episode videos are submitted in article form.  There are stills from the video, and text to explain what happened with enough detail that the reader would have a grasp of what was being shared, even if the video did not work.
  • No story.  These are submissions that after reading, I have no idea what the author was trying to express.  Make sure you ask yourself: "Is this something that a reader will find interesting?  Have I included enough details so that the reader will know where the beginning, middle and end of my 'story' is?"   In the occasional submission there might have been some facts included, but they were so disorganized that none of them seemed willing to be in the same paragraph together.  The articles section isn't a place to ask questions.  It's not a forum post for a dialog type conversation.  Articles are stories, reviews, or tutorials, where you are teaching a lesson, presenting a completed project, or in rare cases, sharing a particularly unique flying experience.
  • No pictures.  This isn't necessarily an automatic rejection, but how many magazine articles do you read that have zero images attached to the story?  Do they keep your interest for long?  Some articles might not be improved with graphics, or pictures, but most will be better received with some illustrations included.  They don't have to be your pictures.  But if you're borrowing them from the internet, make sure you give proper credit to the owners.  If possible ask permission, or at least let them know that you're using them in your article.  They might be honored that you chose their work to express your message.
  • Blurry pictures.  If you're going to take the time to share your project, show yourself respect by taking pictures that are reasonably clear and crisp.  With digital cameras we're able to instantly review the pictures we take.  There's no extra developing costs involved in taking the picture again.  It does the reader no good to have a picture included that is too dark or blurry to tell what the author is trying to share.
  • Bad spelling or grammar.  I am not going to beat most authors up for the occasionally misspelled word, or improper grammar.  I understand we're not all English majors.  I make my fair share of mistakes.  (My wife will be reading this before I submit it, and she will be swearing about all the errors I have included. Wife's edit: I do not swear! I roll my eyes and groan in frustration.)  That said: if u submeet 2 me a artkal that looks like dis, i will rejek it.
  • Hasn't been reviewed.  Did you read the article after you wrote it?  Or did you just click the submit button?  Read it aloud.  I do this with mine.  If I have a hard time reading my article aloud and have it sound like something I'd want someone to listen to, then it's probably not going to be easy for someone else to read either.  As I said above, I almost always have my wife review my articles before I publish them.  If you submit it without letting someone review it, then I'll be the first person to see it.  It might sit in the waiting list for a while, until I can think of a polite way to tell you what I found wrong with it.  Some of those take longer than others.
  • No links.  If you mention another article, a website, or a video, be sure to include the link to what you're talking about.  At the end of each article submission page there's a section where you can link to articles with similar topics to yours.  Use this as a way to link to other articles you mention in the body of your work.

So there's the "short" list of things to look for that hinder the approval of articles.  Many of the items are easy to fix.  I've repeatedly mentioned how helpful it can be to have someone else read your article before you submit it.  There's a section of the forums just for this.  


We are very fortunate to have a large community of people eager to help people without being rude or overly critical.  They are a resource that should be tapped whenever you feel the need.



So here's the closing summary.  We're getting some great submissions.  In fact the overall quality has improved so much that articles that we're having to be more selective in which ones we approve, and which ones we tell the author to make improvements on.  I'm hoping that you as authors are seeing a higher quality of article lately as well, and know that when your submission is accepted, that it's because it was considered to be a valuable contribution to the Flite Test community.  I put this article together to review some of the main points of the last article on this topic, as well as an opportunity to share the common reasons why submissions are not always immediately accepted.  I hope that this article will provide some helpful tips on how to better craft your own articles so that they'll meet the requirements, and get published on the first try.


Miracle Air on March 15, 2015
I just published an article under my "Flight Club" handle (this is my personal handle) which Fred initially rejected. He was very professional and his editorial comments were excellent. My article was far, far better than it would have been. If we view Fred as a resource rather than an opponent our articles will be better and our readers will be happier.

And I'd like to thank Fred personally for the way in which he conducts himself. He's very supportive and very professional. They found the right person for the job.
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Miracle Air on March 15, 2015
Note to Fred's wife: too much use of the words "better" and "professional," am I right? High five!
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FlyingMonkey on March 15, 2015
She's scolding me because I'm already interrupting her writing of her graduate school papers. So she doesn't have time to pick on anyone else's writing. :D
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canuck on March 16, 2015
One of the recommendation I would make is make use of spell checkers. Although not perfect they can help identify simple mistakes. I found at least 1 in your last 2 submissions sorry to say. Hope you don't mind me pointing this out.
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FlyingMonkey on March 16, 2015
No, it's a very valid point. I often read my own multiple times, at least once aloud. Most of them are read over by my wife. But as you've pointed out, that isn't always enough.
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NoUsername on March 15, 2015
Sounds like my English teacher!

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dharkless on March 26, 2015
I am just a reader (and occasional writer here) but from the reader's perspective i think ANY subject related to aviation is fair game here. Some of the most interesting articles are outside of most of our common experience. The FT article about F1D Indoor Flight comes to mind. Not many of us had any exposure to that very specialized aspect of the hobby but I found it riveting and the rocket gliders that were featured in the same article were fantastic. I think the oddball stories can be among the most interesting. It looks from your comments above that you can put your thoughts on paper pretty well. I would go for it!

By the way, FT has put a GREAT venue together here but the genius of their accomplishment is the putting the reader/writer in charge if the content. The addition of an editor can only help the quality but amateure writers and our common (or uncommon) shared experiences are the raw material that makes it work. Readers with their comments and ratings will be the final judges.
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Mrhandcar on March 24, 2015
I'm new to RC but have had prior experience flying both Estes D engine and compressed air rockets. Would FT be interested in an article detailing my (mis)adventures in this field. One incident was potentially lethal, the other three near disasters, and ALL were funny.

I understand "interested" does not automatically translate into "accepted." On the other hand, I don't want to waste time writing a piece FT has no interest in.

To recap: you now know my writing is relatively competent, my sense of humor is much in the vein of "little" Josh's, and the anecdotes, when shared over the years, have ALWAS generated belly laughs. Anyway, that's my story and I'm stickin' with it.

Oh, one more thing. I work well with blunt because there is no room for ambiguity. A simple yes, no, or even "Are you kidding me?" Will work for me.
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dharkless on March 26, 2015
I like the way this article is a very structured example of how an article should be structured. I do not have quite as structured a writing style as you but your work does remind me of some of the english / creative writing courses I had in first (and only) year of college. Nice work teach!
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noaflight2 on March 15, 2015
Hey! I have had an article on the waiting list to be published for more than a week now. I have not recieved any comments from the moderator about what to fix. Is it not being publish because the content is bad or just because you haven't had time to view it? Thanks!
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FlyingMonkey on March 15, 2015
I'll take a look. There were a few that I was waiting to get this article approved by my wife, so I could add it to the editor comments.
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Mostly Harmless on March 16, 2015
Another tip: Before doing a final edit/review, put your work aside for a day or two, so you can review it with a "fresh" eye. Very frequently, I'll miss obvious mistakes in something I've written because my original intent is clear in my head -- I read what I meant to say rather than what I've written.
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FlyingMonkey on March 16, 2015
Excellent point. I'll make sure to add these suggestions to part 3. (And start doing them myself now.)
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HilldaFlyer on August 23, 2015
Hi FlyingMonkey - can you give the readers some indication on how the "influence" is calculated.
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Writing Tips For Getting Published. Part Two.