As we all ricocheted through the last couple weeks, the Rangers have found fewer stories to rescue, although the volume of Community stories remains about the same. I get it—alarming events provoke immediate reactions, and we’ve experienced such a megastorm of alarms, our psyches are set to auto-react. Instant reactions to OMG events often generate stories following a common theme that are not rescuable, because they lack originality. However, strong reactions can jolt our thoughts into new territories. By carefully developing those thoughts, a writer may be rewarded with a rescue or catapulting to the Trending List.
We rescued well-developed stories from ten writers this week, which are previewed below. The first Community Spotlight edition outlined some components of a well-developed story. Today, I’m directing attention to Daily Kos Help Desk resources that assist with story production and refining your approach.
Last week’s edition gave suggestions for headlines that grab readers, and asked how you choose which stories to read. The poll collected 234 votes, with more people saying they choose based on the topic than on the headline, although an informative headline is how we communicate our topic to readers.
Commenters elaborated on the fifth poll option with a variety of responses, and almost everyone slammed clickbait headlines that tantalize readers when the story doesn’t fulfill their promises. Nookular contributed an offbeat reason to click through and read that says more about creative use of rockcrusher images and pie recipes from the DK Community than about a particular story: “I almost always click on a headline that seems like it’s gonna be a trainwreck diary just to read the comments.”
Your comments also revealed subtleties in what motivates you to click on a story when the only clues are headline, author, and lead image.
giddy thing said, “The headline is a grabber for me, but so is the leading image. Diarists should put some thought into how their lead image can enhance or elaborate on their diary.”
Nonlinear offered a different perspective, “...from time to time I will read a diary purely because of the headline and usually what lures me in is the tone. I love writers whose voice comes through in everything they write including the headline.”
Forester Bob wrapped up his comprehensive analysis (replete with great examples) with this observation: “Lesser-known readers need to give me a reason to click. A good headline AND a relevant image are both important in that regard.”
In addition to your byline and an informative compelling headline, the lead image can help draw attention to your stories. The Knowledge Base section at the Help Desk contains guidelines and tutorials on how to participate at Daily Kos, from Activism to password changing, and includes detailed help with the user interface, writing, publishing, and handling images.
One subsection covers a variety of useful advice for writers, including these stories from Staff and Community members.
How to write a Daily Kos story: The Basics is a guide to the story editor.
How to write successfully at Daily Kos by Staff member Christopher Reeves offers general story criteria, and discusses how to back up your thesis with evidence. He reminds us to own our mistakes but also have fun, reply to comments, and be involved.
A few tips for better blogging by Community member Simplify gives pithy advice on story composition and personal demeanor. For example, he addresses the habit of some writers to begin with a disclaimer that sends a message of unworthiness before the reader even gets to the story. “I didn't see anyone else post on this, and if someone does I'll take it down, but... Thbbbt. Hogwash. You're just as deserving a human being as anyone else.“
Daily Kos is more than just about the news. It’s about telling your story by Paul Hogarth, Campaign Director for the Activism team, focuses on resources to help with your stories.
Step by step guide: how to include maps, charts, and other detailed images by Community member Krotor details in text and images how to handle all your visual story elements.
Hogarth’s and Reeves’ stories include two gems worth emphasizing—especially in these weeks (months, years) when events propel an immediate outrage in response to alarming events.
First, Paul: “We know it can be intimidating to write about politics on Daily Kos, but no one is a better expert on your own life than you. Your story offers a perspective that can make a difference.”
And Christopher: “One of the most powerful tools of Daily Kos is allowing us to provide direct, on the ground assessments of areas and issues that do not get wide distribution in the press. Don't think of Daily Kos as a place to tell the national story that everyone has, think of it as the place to relay the news and information in a way that lets you provide a unique insight.”
Everyone has a unique perspective; however, when writing stories, we sometimes run smack into obstacles. Not everyone easily translates thoughts into a personal written voice that relates their views informatively and engagingly. Perhaps we can’t decide the necessary level of explanation, or identify details to omit for smoother reading. Long-winded explanations drive readers away. For some, the main difficulty may be finding an illustrative, legally acceptable lead image or graph. The poll this week asks about your confidence as a writer. In the comments, tell us what is difficult, such as accessing your voice, deciding the suitable level of detail, or finding a relevant, legal image.
Rescued Stories FROM Friday Oct. 2, 7PM PDT to Friday Oct. 9, 7PM PDT
This week, the variety and depth of views among Community members resulted in ten rescued stories arising from a juxtaposition of current events and unique personal insight. Two of the stories are installments in regular series presented by two different groups. Three of the rescued authors this week, marked with asterisks next to their names, joined Daily Kos in 2020, including one who joined just last week.
Ethics of COVID-19 exposure: Individual rights to privacy versus public safety and welfare needs by KAMMY* tells an infuriating personal story of COVID-19 irresponsibility that parallels COVID-19 irresponsibility in the White House. The author asks us to think about how we should balance the right to medical privacy with the right to be safe during a public health crisis. "I showed up for a new job last week ready to take on new battles. I didn’t think about having to defend my life. Apparently I should have."
This Week in the War on Women by Tara the Antisocial Social Worker collects the past week’s news stories and political actions related to women’s issues. In response to the SCOTUS nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, author Tara observes that “feminism isn’t about elevating one privileged white woman—it’s about elevating all women to equality.” This regular series by different members of the War on Women group publishes every Saturday at 5PM PT.
A Writer So Good He's a Master: The Return of John M. Ford by Ellid offers more than a book review. She explains how John Ford fell out of the public eye after his death and recent revelations that resulted in republishing his long out-of-print works. "I’ve been rereading John M. Ford at long last … The Dragon Waiting was the single best-selling book of Ford's entire career, won the World Fantasy Award, and seemed set to launch him to the very first rank of fantasy writers…." Ellid’s story is part of a regular Saturday series from the Readers & Book Lovers group, a “community of like-minded people who share your passion for the written word in all its forms.”
Just three things that make Trump a bad president, revealed by COVID by Colleen Atkinson identifies and discusses those “three things” all presidents must possess that Trump lacks, although none is direct experience with COVID-19. "… it is time for a President who does know what the people are going through, who will use his knowledge of the law and government to make things better for the people, and who is humble enough to ask for help and learn from the experts."
Doing it right, and expecting everyone else to do it right by PalmFrond appreciates the athleticism, precision, and musicianship of marching bands—as a metaphor about community and trust. "In these days of a worldwide deadly pandemic, rampant criminal behavior throughout government, and creeping climate catastrophe that is visible to the most casual observer, we need to be acting, each of us and all of us, in consistent and coordinated ways to deal with the problems."
We’re not ready for Single Payer Healthcare (because we disagree about morality) by cmhmd, former Hospice physician, former Critical Care Physician; Pennsylvania Director, Doctors for America, relates a personal experience at a conference’s panel discussion of progressive candidates. Speakers at the panel led cmhmd to ask “What is preventing us from having the basic moral argument about our values regarding health care … Every other nation has started with the moral and ethical question over their values as a society and worked towards a solution to provide healthcare to all their people, “deserving” or not.”
Is It Right to Believe by DRSat4880* asks readers to examine political opinion, and takes us on a tour of philosophical thinking on why people vote as they do. The writer underpins this query with data describing levels of political knowledge and experience that explain four different voter categories. Ideology from a diverse group of thinkers ranging from George Orwell to the Apostle Paul support this concept: "Enacting civic virtue could and should entail seeking that which maximizes the conditions for all members of a society to thrive."
My personal vaccination plan for Covid-19 by LimitReached* describes a six-point plan and underlying criteria the writer is using to decide when to get a COVID-19 vaccination, and which one. "Having worked as a licensed health care provider for 20 years, and working in one way or another in the healthcare industry for over 40 years, I am slightly more educated in medical matters than the average person ... "
Fandom is out to evict 45 by marialba reports TV shows and their fans enjoying geeky fun with Zoom watch party fundraisers for Democratic candidates, and a bit of self-knowledge acquired in the process. "This year it’s all hands on deck, and much as back in simpler times, when all the fandoms united against the Beliebers (Justin Bieber fans) in support of Supernatural ... the fandoms are coming back together to defeat, let’s just say, the wannabe Thanos."
From a Teacher After 8 Weeks of 100% Distance Learning: Zoom and Star Trek by algebrateacher also relates to geekdom, but from the perspective of an eighth grade algebra teacher who finds his Zoom classes fulfill some promises of Star Trek. "Zoom is where I command their attention. Zoom is where I inspire and guide thought leading to action. Zoom is a port, a gateway, a theater."
COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT is dedicated to finding great writing by community members that isn’t getting the visibility it deserves.
- To add our rescued stories to your Stream, click on the word FOLLOW in the left panel at our main page or click on Reblogs and read them directly on the group page.
- You can also find a list of our rescued stories by clicking HERE.
An edition of our rescue roundup publishes every Saturday at 1 PM ET (10AM PT).