Readers Feature – How To

Ever thought about writing a Readers Feature for GameCentral? Here’s a quick guide to doing it.

The following is taken verbatim from a GameCentral Inbox letter written by Big Lizafish and GC’s reply published on 23/05/13. Hopefully BLF and GC won’t mind it’s reproduction here where it’s easy to locate and won’t get lost).

A SHORT GUIDE TO WRITING A READER’S FEATURE

I know it’s not strictly game-related but I have noticed quite a few Underboxers mention that they wouldn’t know where to start when it comes to a Reader’s Feature so I thought this guide might be helpful. I hope you agree.

I’m sure there’s some irony in writing a feature on how to write a feature, especially since I am far from the world’s greatest writer. Nevertheless I do think I can offer something useful to you budding feature writers so here goes.

Write about a subject you enjoy
Inspiration can come from anywhere, be it your own experiences, a review, an Inbox letter or Underbox rant. Once you get the spark of inspiration write it down so you don’t forget it.

This may seem to be common sense but I can guarantee that if you choose a subject you really enjoy it will make writing your feature much easier. If you’re a huge fan of role-playing games share your passion for them. You might want to stand up for the rights of random battles or sing the praises of your favourite game.

Remember that features have covered everything from retro gaming, hardware reviews, favourite developers and companies, gaming culture and so on. No gaming related subject is off limits.

Write about a subject you know well and research if not
Generally, if you’re passionate about something you’re likely to have ample knowledge of the subject matter. If you don’t, then do some research so you can support the points you wish to make.

Show your work to someone else for critique
It is really helpful to get someone else to proof read your work before submission. Proof-reading your own work is almost impossible because most people end up reading what they think they’ve written because the brain likes to fill in the gaps. If you don’t have someone to show it to you can try printing your work. Reading it on paper tends to help one spot mistakes in my experience.

Don’t take comments personally
Your feature may garner criticism that you perceive is justified or unjustified. Do your very best to accept whatever criticism or praise you receive. Even the harshest words can contain wisdom.

If you choose to respond, try to do so graciously. Yes, you have taken the time to write the feature and kudos to you for doing so but your critics have taken the time to read it and make comment.

Don’t be put off
Once you put pen to paper you may have found the process much more difficult than you had first thought or you may have found that you were lambasted for your views and you don’t want to put yourself through it again. Please don’t let either of these reasons dissuade you.

You will become more resilient to, and more able to accept, the opinion of others the more often you leave your comfort zone. The worst that can happen is you find you don’t like the process or experience but if you do you might just find a passion you never knew you had.
Big Lizafish (gamertag)

GC: Thanks very much for this, this is all excellent advice. We’d also add that you shouldn’t worry if your Reader’s Feature doesn’t get used straight away. We do try to use most of them but sometimes we can get quite a backlog and have to wait a few weeks for a spare spot.