Blitz Writing Guide

Welcome to the writing tips page! If you are lost, need help or want some guidance on where to start with writing, you’re at the right place.

If you have absolutely any questions, send the Blitz editor an email here: r.xu-austen@arc.unsw.edu.au

What is Blitz’s tone of voice?

Conversational – Opinionated – Accessible – Informative – Curious

Blitz is a university publication run by students, for students. Keep in mind that we are all about student-life and pop-culture, so write as if you were talking and keep it simple. 

We lean towards conversational articles rather than essays in terms of style. If you have something serious that you'd like to write about, or you want to analyse/discuss something, that's great, but we won't accept articles in essay format.

What we’re looking for in writers

Anyone interested in learning, getting experience or sharing an idea they think the world needs to hear.

Do you need experience?

No! No experience is necessary – our team can help you brainstorm your idea, produce your article/video/podcast and promote your work. If you have a speciality, let us know. We will find plenty of opportunities for you to gain experience, and work with others!

Here are some things you can specialise in when writing for Blitz

  • Film, TV, and Music Reviews
  • Food Reviews
  • Lifestyle Writing
  • Writing Profiles of Interesting People
  • Interviews

What is the process for a new writer?

If you have an idea that you’d like to write about:

1.    Pitch the idea to the editor (email at top of the page)

2.    After you’ve got the go-ahead, start writing!

3.    When you’ve got something you’re happy with, send it to the editor

4.    The editor will make comments on your article and send it back for you to look over

5.    Once you’ve looked it over and revised if needed, tell the editor and they’ll publish

6.    You’ll get a chance before it is published to look over how it is formatted on the website, and ask for any changes you want


If you’ve got no ideas but want to write something anyway:

1.    Join our Blitz Contributors Page

2.    Take a look at our weekly callouts

3.    Comment on any post that interests you

4.    After you’ve got the go-ahead, start writing!

5.    When you’ve got something you’re happy with, send it to the editor

6.    The editor will make comments on your article and send it back for you to look over

7.    Once you’ve looked it over and advised, tell the editor and they’ll publish

8.    You’ll get a chance before it is published to look over how it is formatted on the website, and ask for any changes you want

What formats do you accept?

We accept many different types of articles – please shoot the editor a pitch for something that you think might be outside of the realm of Blitz! We lean towards conversational articles over essays. We do reviews, guides, lists, opinions, news relating to student life, events in Sydney etc.

Do you accept pitches/drafts/full pieces?

We accept pitches, drafts and full pieces! It’s preferable that a pitch is always sent first to the editor or sub-editors, and then we can see if you’re on the right track or need some help.

If you don’t have any pressing ideas off the top of your head, check out our Blitz Contributor’s page which has weekly article callouts which you can take by commenting on the posts!

When you're sending your article to the editor - make sure it is finished and has a standfirst, title, image and links (if required).

Are there any specifics I need to know about?

Standfirsts:

Please use standfirsts at the beginning of your article. A standfirst is.. “a brief introductory summary of an article in a newspaper or on a website, typically appearing immediately after the headline and typographically distinct from the rest of the article". Essentially, it is a concise summary and introduction of what you are saying in the article.

Titles: 

Make sure you have an interesting and snappy article title - ask your editor for help if you’re unsure. 

Images:

If you’d like any specific images (royalty-free preferably), or you would like a photographer, please request it during the pitch.

Font:

Please send your article in Calibri font. Nothing smaller than size 10.

Length:

Article length is not a problem. Short and snappy articles preferred. No minimum and no maximum. As long as you make your point clearly and concisely.

Footnoting and Hyperlinks: 

No footnotes, but you’re encouraged to include some embedded links to outside sources when you find it necessary. If you’re not sure about this, ask the editor!

Structure:

There is no structure that you need to follow – feel free to explore whatever form you want! The important thing is that every paragraph connects (feel free to use subheadings), and that there is a clear flow in your writing.

Writer's Bio

When you have finalised your article, please write a small bio of yourself to be included at the end of your article.

Here is an example:

Regina Spectre is a student from Sydney studying a dual degree in Commerce and Arts. An avid film and music enthusiast (and lover of all things obscure), she is often found immersing herself within the world of film. Aside from devouring Kubrick and Kiarostami, she loves to go for long drives in the middle of the night whilst listening to some David Bowie.

Nothing Promoting Illegal Stuff

Blitz doesn't accept anything that is discriminatory, offensive, or promotes illegal activities.

Common Mistakes

Writing without a clear idea: The most common problem is when writers start without an idea and end up with an article that doesn't say anything. If a review can be summed up in three words, "I liked it" - it isn't particularly interesting for readers. If you loved a film, explore the reasons why you loved it, the deeper part of why you connected so much with it.

Writing too much: If you think you've written too much, you probably have. Cut everything thats not necessary - writing should be lean.

Long sentences/run-on-sentences: If you have more than 1 idea, split it into different sentences and paragraphs. There is a tendency to cram as much as you can into one sentence, but it usually becomes jumbled and difficult to understand. A good guideline (but not a rule! in writing, there are never true rules, only guidelines), is to try and have 25 words maximum for each sentence. If it's over 25 and you're worried about it, work on splitting it up.

No clear structure: Remember to have a sense of flow and structure to your essay. That isn't to say it needs to adhere to a specific outline, rather, it should have a sense of direction for the reader to understand where you are going.

Things to Avoid: Avoid phrases like “Overall”, “In addition to this”, “I must say” and "In conclusion". They just add onto the word count and don't contribute anything.

Avoid double negatives : Double negatives are really confusing for readers to understand.

Too formal in style: Remember not to be too formal in style. Blitz is an accessible, student-friendly publication that should be easy to read. You can still write about interesting topics, just do it conversationally. If you're ever unsure, think about how you'd explain your idea to a friend. Would you say what you've written out loud? If not, think about if that's the best way to say you want to say

Half-baked ideas: If you introduce an idea, explore it thoroughly - don't just leave it unanswered.

Reviews

Tips:

Make sure you know what kind of review you are writing! 

Always remember to engage with what the artist is trying to express, or at the very least, what you got out of the piece. As well as this, don't just be descriptive. Don't just describe the film and what happens in it - readers can just watch a trailer, and it'll probably be a lot more exciting. Be opinionated, explore more and engage with the text and the ideas.

Are you recommending something, or are you criticising it? 

It can be both, but remember to have a clear, original idea underlining your article.

Do you give scores?

Yes, in 2021 we'll be using a 5-star-rating system (whole stars only), but don't use scoring systems as a crutch. 

Do you have spoiler warnings

Preference of avoiding spoilers if you can help it. If something is stopping you from writing a good review, then go ahead and write a spoiler and we will put a *SPOILER WARNING* at the top of the article.

Interviews

Q & A

The simplest format to use. Simply record the conversation, transcribe it into a body paragraph of questions and answers. Make sure to remove the "um's" and "ah's" that stilt the conversation. 

Examples:

https://www.nytimes.com/times-...

https://www.vice.com/en/articl...


Narrative Format

Descriptive of the actual conversation. More creative to write, and allows for observations of character, and wider analysis.

Examples:

https://www.theatlantic.com/id...

https://www.broadsheet.com.au/...


Hybrid

Combination of both Q & A and Narrative Interview formats

Examples:

https://www.vox.com/recode/221...

https://junkee.com/an-intervie...


For some more tips on doing interviews, click here!

Festivals, Concerts, Events and Media Accreditation

If you'd like to cover an event for Blitz, taking photos and writing an article/filming a video, send the editor an email of what you'd like to do! Please do this at least a month in advance, to account for slow response times. 

When covering an event/concert/festival, please pitch us what you'd want to do, what structure your piece would have, and how you'd use the media passes to their fullest. 

We have previously received accreditation for shows to Hamilton, advanced film screenings, live gigs etc. Dream big and we'll take a shot at getting you that media pass.

Here are some previous pieces covered for Blitz:

https://www.arc.unsw.edu.au/blitz/reviews/didirri-oxford-art-factory

https://www.arc.unsw.edu.au/blitz/reviews/lany-enmore-theatre

https://www.arc.unsw.edu.au/blitz/reviews/autosuggest-staves-brewery