I was the one who asked for your writing sample. I wanted to see if there
was something fairly obvious in your writing that would cause a rejection.
After looking at the links you provided, I'm sad to say that I agree with
Technical writing and knowledge are as distinct as analyzing and creating
films. The latter is the more rigorous and (perhaps) rewarding activity, but
it is best to not completely discount the fore as oftentimes this
perspective can prove to be insightful. The Internet is fairly new, but
successful entities adhere to the same quality requirements/standards of
their in-print predecessors that have served them well in the past. In this
paradigm, editors are typically responsible for sending out the horrid
rejection letters you can receive. Oftentimes the standard can be to send
out stock letters full of niceties and emotional fluff when what they meant
to say was that your usage was poor, grammar questionable, and thinking
appeared muddled. I found all three of these in your writing samples.
- Usage: "Programming the Way You Would Love"..if I'm not mistaken this is
an example of future perfect tense, generally a poor choice for a section
-Usage #2: "Perl code is very succinct and can be written very quickly..."
The use of the word 'very' should be avoided. You should even add a note in
your draft revision process that asks if you really need ANY use of the
word. Why? Because it tends to be VERY overused.
- Grammar #1: "This is useful to automate such web sites..." Remove the
'such' and the meaning becomes clear.
- Usage #3: "Perl was introduced in 1987 (4 years before Linux itself), when
the author, Larry Wall, released version 1.000 of it..." The addition of 'of
it' is needless and verbose.
- Usage #4: "The reason for its creation was that Wall was unhappy by the
functionality..." This is awkward and muddled. This can be better written
as, "Mr. Wall, tired of the inefficiencies in many Unix utilities, sought to
create a 'better mousetrap' sporting the very best features awk, sed, ..."
Absent any other evidence the reader is typically correct in assuming that
muddled writing is a sign of muddled thinking. In the Perl community we know
better -- you may be simply bad at writing, but the average reader will not
be armed with this knowledge.
There are many more examples but I've made my point. Every time you write
for any form of publication you should be cognizant that the reader is
simultaneously analyzing the writing and reading it as well. They are
reading the content, but their minds are also analyzing the piece for
veracity, succinctness, structure, brevity, and other aspects. You can
summarize these in questions: 'is this person telling me the truth?'; 'did
the author use the right word for that?'; 'is this person going to waste my
time?'; 'am I going to have to reread this ten times to understand it?';
'where in the hell is the point?'; etc. A good writer asks these questions
during a draft; the best writers ask them before even sitting down to write.
My recommendation is that you sit down and write a piece specifically for
publication in a print magazine (they are better about providing examples of
what they expect to see) and use that as a writing sample instead. Revise
your piece at least three times before submitting it to anyone. I do not
suggest that you find someone else to write these pieces for you. I think
you should do this and then try again.
On Tue, May 31, 2011 at 6:29 AM, Shlomi Fish wrote:
On Tuesday 24 May 2011 22:57:27 Shlomi Fish wrote:
Can anyone here volunteer to write about Perl for http://perl.about.com/?
It's been suffering from a lot of neglect, and my application for a writer
there was rejected (see below).
Someone asked me (in private - :-( ) what my writing sample looked like,
since this was a form submission and it was a long time ago, I don't recall
exactly, but I think they were these:
---------- Forwarded Message ----------
Subject: RE: Guide Application for [Perl]
Date: Tuesday 24 May 2011, 18:01:03
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
While we thank you for taking the time to apply to be an About.com Guide,
we have decided not to accept your application for entry into Prep. A few
common reasons why your application was not accepted include:
* We are looking for someone with more professional writing experience.
* We are looking for someone with more writing experience in the topic.
* We are looking for someone with different qualifications.
* The writing in the writing sample was not up to our standards or had
If you feel that you did not represent yourself to your best advantage in
your application and you wish to apply again, you are more than welcome to
do so at http://beaguide.about.com.
In addition, you may also be
interested in applying to be a writer for ConsumerSearch, a member of the
About, Inc. group of companies looking for writers to join their teams.
If so, we encourage you to apply via the following link:
* Consumer Search: http://www.consumersearch.com/www/jobs.html.
Thanks again for your application,
About.com Recruitment and Training Team
Shlomi Fish http://www.shlomifish.org/
First stop for Perl beginners - http://perl-begin.org/
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