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Super Mario World

Each month, the Bitmob Writing Challenge offers both old and new community members a chance to write on a specific topic. If you find this introduction a bit bland, then that’s what I want to hear — this month we’re going to cover how to make a great first impression in your articles.

The beginning is important to any work. The opening beat of a song hooks the listener in. The first 10 pages in a script are vital if you want to get an agent’s attention. Likewise, it’s important to engage readers with the lead paragraphs of your article because they aren’t going to wait until later for it to get better.

And yet, many new writers ignore the lead. I've seen too many articles about the games-as-art debate that begin with Roger Ebert’s criticism of the medium — months after he wrote his original article — or his other piece where he acknowledged he had poorly argued his original position. What was once relevant now feels like conjuring up a strawman for high-brow art snobs, and when you're dealing with an evergreen topic, you need to show how your take on it is different.

Meanwhile, the editorial staff at Bitmob frequently warns us about beginning pieces with “history lessons” that merely give boring background information about a game. These aren’t stimulating to read.

This month, I’m calling open season on lazy, bland intros. Read on to learn how you can participate.

  • Write an article on any topic.
  • Create five different introductions to your piece. I’ll allow you to decide how long your introduction will be, but each variation should have a change in length or tone. For example, if instead of writing a paragraph, compose a four-word sentence. If all five intros are four-word sentences, then you should try harder.
  • Use the best introduction at the beginning of the article and include the others on a second page using the “Add Page” command at the top of the Article Editor toolbar. On that page, write a short explanation about why you feel the chosen lead is the strongest one.
  • Post the article with “Bitmob Writing Challenge” in the tags by August 30, 2012. It will appear in the Mobfeed and GamesBeat’s Unfiltered page. At the end of the month, I’ll post a roundup containing all of the articles.

Good luck. Be sure to check out the results for last month’s challenge on education and gaming coming soon.