A Judge's Perspective on Articles

Do you want me to read your article? It doesn't have to be real long.
— Olaf, Anna, and Fox after judging 300+ articles for Summer Camp 2021
  I've helped judge categories for World Anvil competitions for several years and have waded through thousands of articles to do so. I may not be the foremost expert, but I can tell you what makes articles stand out and grab my attention. This is my opinion. Your milage may vary with other judges.  
To those entering the World Ember 2021 Spell Category: if you pay attention to this article you'll wow me. Go ahead - make my job tough. Show me your best spells!


What makes a good article? The Essentials

Make them want to read your work

Put an attention grabber at the beginning to draw in your reader. Give them a reason to want to digest the facts you're about to throw in their faces. If you just spew fact after fact, it gets hard to read even if I like your world and the article's ideas.   Please, ensure the topic isn't the same as fifty others. When I judged the materials category, I saw so many mithril articles I thought my eyes might bleed. If you choose to pick something that many others will do, give it a super unique spin.


Short and simple!

The ideal length is 500-700 words. People lose interest when it's much longer, but this length gives you room to fill in details. Break up longer articles in to multiple pages and link them via mentions, article blocks, and/or navigation links.   Keep your articles to about an 8th grade reading level. These are not scientific papers for PhD. students. They should be enjoyable. Using a big word occasionally is fine.   Additionally, your sentences shouldn't be long. Break up your thoughts into manageable chunks to help the reader process the information. Think of someone trying to read this aloud. If they'd run out of breath, it's too long.   The same goes for paragraphs. A wall of text is a big turnoff to a reader. Use headers, boxes (quotes and alert boxes), images, white space, extra line breaks, and the sidebar to break up the text for easy consumption.


Grammar, Spelling and Proofing

Check your grammar and spelling and use TTS (text to speech) to read your article to you. These two things are essential! Make it easy for your reader to keep reading. If they have to stop to figure out what the heck you are trying to say, you'll likely lose the reader.


Bonus Points

Creative Approach

Remember when I mentioned an attention grabber at the beginning of an article? Quotes are a common way to do this. But MANY people use them. Is there a zany or emotionally gripping way or perspective to make your reader say "Hey, this is cool!"   Do either of these articles draw you in?


Big Hints from Fox

Not all judges look for popular articles or require use of images. Likes can be a sign that the article is great, or that the author is popular. But the most fun to find are the hidden diamonds.   I don't expect perfection. Just put in the effort to edit and do your best!


Freebie Tips

Look through the article template prompts below the main content window of the article editor. Make a note of which ones are useful for your article. Then put those titles and info into your main content window or your sidebar. Having just a few places to spell check is much easier than trying to hunt down twenty.   Remember, your images must have credits!


Summing It Up

WA judges will look at many articles. Last time I judged, I waded through every single one of the 300+ entries. Your articles have to stand out!

Table of Contents

Helpful Tools


Further Reading

If you'd like to see some great examples, I made a list of my favorites from the Summer Camp 2021 Materials category. See the comments for what grabbed my attention.
Fox's Picks of the Summer Camp 2021 Materials Articles
Events/Collections | Jan 3, 2022

Articles that Fox feels are outstanding from Summer Camp 2021 for the prompt "A vital trade resource that supports a settlement or region".


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Master after_xero
Eric Jorgenson
24 Dec, 2021 07:22

Thank you! I really appreciate this... not just for world ember, but for my article writing in general. I am constantly fighting with myself about what to leave in and what to leave out. Multiple times, I have combined 2 articles, just to reverse that decision a bit later. I've also combined, reduced words, and then made another article to get more information out... Anyway, the advice is noted.

What comes after 0?
24 Dec, 2021 20:36

Thank you Shy, this is super useful!

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