Game Journalism Writing Advice

Get faster at writing video game news articles

The video game news cycle never sleeps. Whether it's a fresh headline from the other side of the world releasing or an E3-like conference where the news drip turns into a flood, there's always something to report on in the gaming industry.

The ability to see a story and turn it into a publish-ready article within minutes is highly prized skill. Unfortunately, fast writing isn't something that comes naturally to many game journalists. The good news is you can get fast. It's not some mystical art lost to the sands of time, it's a skill you can cultivate and master with practice.

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Gotta go fast!

Early in my career I was an extremely slow writer. Then I started working for a high profile news outlet and wouldn't you know it, a few weeks later my writing time was cut in half. Before long I could turn out publish-ready news pieces in as little as 20 minutes.

When the incentive is there you'll naturally build speed to meet demand. But even if you're not in a fast-paced environment, you can use the principles below to get faster.

Remember: even though it's tempting to take shortcuts to save time, always always verify information before you write (I was burned on this once; it's not fun) and don't sacrifice quality. Quick turnarounds never make up for inaccurate information or shoddy work.

NEVER COPY/PASTE CONTENT, not even if you "rearrange it a little." This has negative consequences for you and publications you work for. You can be fast without being a plagiarist.

1 - Stick to what you know - If you're assigned a news piece on a franchise you've never heard of, it's going to take extra time to research background information. If you can stick to the games, series, genres, and consoles you know, your writing will be faster and better every time.

2 - Write. More. Articles. - The more you write, the faster you'll become. Part of this is simply experience over time, but you can get extra practice by shutting off your inner editor and just writing.

3 - Use an article framework - One structure I like for news articles is SUMMARY -> BACKGROUND -> EXPLANATION. Start with a brief summary of the news in question, give background on why it's newsworthy, then give more details at the end. Bam, done.

4 - Stick to the topic - News articles are short and to the point. Don't worry about dressing the story up in fancy details and don't try to pad out the word count -- just get the info out there in a readable format.

Does all of this talk about structure and straightforwardness make news articles sound boring? It should! The news itself should be the exciting part, not your article.

5 - Make your intro line boring - Writers spend a lot of time worrying over the first few sentences of a piece, trying to get it just right. But you don't have to do this for news articles: the news itself is the hook. Make the first sentence rephrase the headline with a few added details, then get on with the rest of the piece.

6 - When editing, don't second guess yourself - Do your sentences make sense? Does the article deliver the information a reader needs? If yes to both, you're done. Don't look back over the piece wondering if there's a better way to say X or a more entertaining way to phrase Y.

7 - Use simple, predictable images - Unless your publication calls for something specific, go with game screenshots or a stock photo related to the emotion of the news you're writing about (bad news = angry person image).

8 - Your title is already written - This isn't the time to get creative with your headlines. Stick to the basics and title the news article with plain languages. Chances are the piece itself has a great line that can be reworked into a title.

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