How to Write an LW Article

Writing that Article for Lone Warrior

By Your Editor

I am not going to start this article by hiding the truth.  The truth is: you readers want ever more solo wargaming material.  If your notes to me reflect the general desires of our readership, then you’d be happy for more pages.  You find much of the material pertinent, entertaining, stimulating, and informative.

Well, Lone Warrior is a niche publication which depends upon its readers for content.  And, as you know, we average fifty pages of material every issue and sometimes that is a struggle.  I have been known to flesh out Lone Warrior with some material that is not specifically solo-oriented but might appeal to a wider wargaming audience.  I don’t like doing that, but sometimes I’m forced to.  It is important to me that every reader gets more than his money’s worth.  I want loyal readers who value Lone Warrior and who believe it is a bargain.

So, I’m writing this article to encourage those of you who maybe haven’t contributed an article or even a letter to the editor, to do so.  Also, I hope to provide some information that will make that task a little easier.

There are two rules about writing on any subject.  First, write about what you know and like.  Second, remember to tailor your writing to your audience.  Fortunately, both rules are easily applied to you, the potential contributors to Lone Warrior.  The first is easily accomplished.  Write about that aspect of soloing that most interests you.  It does not matter if it’s a single page or 20.  Some kinds of topics:

  • What is your current project?
  • Researching a new period
  • Looking into a new rule set
  • Devising your own rules
  • Choosing figures
  • Commenting on a new computer or board game
  • Telling us what you think about the solo potential of a new book or movie
  • Providing a scenario for your favorite period
  • How you set up your battle or campaign
  • A narrative description of a battle or engagement

The second rule applies to your audience.  From more than 25 years as an editor on the North American continent, let me share with you what I think I know about the average reader of Lone Warrior.  He is a he (no surprise there).  He likely has more metal and plastic figures than he could ever possibly paint in one lifetime (again, no surprise).  He probably has a large number of wargaming, history, sci-fi, and/or fantasy books and games.  He’s around 40-70 years old, has been wargaming since youth, and is a little more intellectual than the average wargamer.  He wants to be informed and enthused.  He is prepared to enter a new period if he is sufficiently excited about it.  He sees the latest war-related movies and reads more history than the average male his age.  He wants to hear from people just like himself, to learn what their projects are.  He really doesn’t care about grammar or sentence structure, as long as the thought is clear.  He subscribes to other wargaming magazines and enjoys photos of painted figures on gorgeous terrain.  He attends conventions from time to time, but his focus is that game on the table in his basement or spare room.  He wishes his table was bigger and that he could keep it up permanently (no double entendre intended).  He wishes he had a display cabinet so that he could view all his figures at once.  His spouse/partner is understanding and glad that wargaming keeps him off the street.   His spouse/partner also wishes he didn’t have so many books and games and so many boxes full of pewter and plastic.  Tell me.  Any of that sound familiar?

So, now I hope I have demonstrated that each of you readers is a potential writer.  You know one or more wargaming subjects pretty well, and your audience looks a lot like you.  Now, how does one go about writing that article?  First, choose a specific topic that interests you.  Then, write down a couple ideas about that topic that you want to cover.  Sort these ideas into a sequence that makes sense.  Then, armed with this rudimentary outline, start banging away on the keyboard.  Take this first draft of material and set it aside for at least 24 hours.  Then, later, read what you wrote and see if you are clear and complete.  Write a second draft and ask someone else to read for clarity.  Does that person understand everything?  If not, clarify your sentences to address any issues of misunderstanding.  Then send this article to me, your friendly editor, at lonewarrior@kc.rr.com.

Now, as frequent readers may have noticed, we publish Lone Warrior in a simple, clean format.  I have included a style guide at the conclusion of the article.

Now, let’s go over your part, using an example or two.

Let’s say, you just saw again, for the nth time, Lord of the Rings, Return of the King.  It prompted you to open this up as a new period and you painted up some figures and drew up some rules.  I’m guessing that you did not create the massive battles, but you did fight out a smaller engagement.  You want to share your enthusiasm and this exciting game with other soloists.  What should you write about?

Your readers will want to see your order of battle: what units did you use, how many figures, any special capabilities.  They will want to know the background: how did this battle come about?  What were the victory conditions? (How do you know when you have won?)  How did you handle the “solo” aspect of the battle or campaign?  Did you fight both sides or did you automate one side and command the other?  Either is fine.  But how did you do it?

How did you come up with the terrain?  What were the dispositions of the forces at the beginning of the battle?  How did the battle unfold?  What were key events and decisive points?  When it was all over, what did you think about the game?  Would you play it again?  What would you change?

What is your perspective in relating the battle activity?  Perspective is the point of view of the author – you.  Are you the “wargamer?”  “Then I sent in a cavalry assault against the right of the Egyptian line.”  Or are you writing from the perspective of the commander?  “Parmenon.  Take your cavalry and attack right there – at the Egyptian archers!  Don’t come back if you are not victorious!”  Or are you the narrator?  “Next, the Carthaginian cavalry delivered an unsuccessful attack upon the right of the Egyptian line.  The cavalry commander, Parmenon, humiliated by this defeat, committed ritual suicide rather than return to his lines.”  It is okay to shift perspective throughout the report but make it clear to your readers that you are doing so.

Let’s say that you are writing about rules that you use.  Too often I’ve seen rules explained so casually that I can’t recreate them for myself.  Too many unanswered questions.  Give your readers plenty of detail.  It is usually a good idea to sketch out a flow chart so your readers can mentally map out what you are explaining in your narrative.  Also, give a complete example or two of how you apply the rules.  Use specific die rolls.  “For example, you roll a 2.  You can modify the die roll plus 1 for ‘leader present’ and plus 1 for ‘well trained.’  This results in a modified roll of 4.  Now go to table Three.  The result is ‘withdraw one move, remain facing enemy’.”  Finally, anticipate questions that your readers might have in interpreting the rules and provide answers.  If you can do all of this, you may even discover a weak point or two in your rule set that you can now correct.

How about deadlines?  Frankly, I’ll accept material 24/7/365.  But I’ve heard from several contributors that deadlines help them along.  So, here they are.  If you get material in to me by these dates, you can expect to see it a couple weeks later when your Lone Warrior arrives: March 10, June 10, September 10, December 10.

What do I do?  Well, I’ll correct any obvious grammatical errors.  I may re-make your graphics so that they fit the page.  When the time comes, I’ll lay out the article in the magazine and select additional graphics to dress up the text.  When I have compiled all the articles for the journal, I will convert all to .pdf format and send back to all the contributors.  If you see any mistakes or need to modify your article, send me an e-mail.  When I have heard from everyone, I will publish the new edition of Lone Warrior.

So, what is the bottom line of all this?  If you are still reading this article, then you are very likely capable of writing a publishable piece.  Follow the guidelines and suggestions above and you will produce something of value to your wargaming brethren.  I’m guessing that once you get published and see your name in print, you won’t want to stop there.  And if you really get caught up in the writing experience, then we can talk about becoming a regular contributor with the perks that that includes.  So, my solo wargaming friend, what are you waiting for?

Lone Warrior Style Guide

General Guidance:

Please, no headers, footers, page numbers, page breaks.  No ‘styles’ e.g. heading 3 etc.  Keep your manuscript simple and clean.

Some authors just type the article into their e-mail message.  This works too.  I’ll do all the formatting on my end.

Let’s talk about images (maps, photos, drawings etc.)  With all images, try to push the image as close to the margin as possible.  If a photo, crop it so that you show only the subject, not all the unnecessary background.  If you can, make the map in powerpoint.  If possible, scan in drawings and send as .pdf or other image file.  Please send images as separate files.  You can add notes on placement directly in the text, such as “put map 1 here” or “Put photo 3 here.”  Add captions if you wish.   I’ll delete your note and add the image/photo as close as I can.

Please send your text, even if you have no images!  I know that images can be a daunting challenge.  I will work with whatever you can send me.  I have a digital library of images to add some myself.

Some authors also convert the .doc file to a .pdf.  I need the .doc!  If the author sends me both, that’s fine because I can see where the writer has inserted his images.

If you want to title subordinate sections of your article (e.g. ‘Introduction’, ‘Conclusion.’), put the section title in bold, TNR, 12 pt.

Please leave two spaces between sentences.  (Older readers tell me they prefer this.)

Tables.  If you can avoid using a table, please do.   If you need a table, please do not merge cells.  Don’t use anything other than solid lines, ½ pt.  You can shade if you wish, but it is not necessary.  The simpler and cleaner, the better.

Okay, now for specifics.  Look at the Layout tab in Word.

Layout:

1 inch margins all around.

Letter size

Now go to the Home tab in Word.

Font:

Times New Roman (TNR) 12 pt.

Paragraph:

0 pt. spacing before or after a line.

Single spaced.

Special: select none.  We use block paragraphs separated by a single line (Just like this article).

You may have been taught to leave two spaces after a colon.  Please, one space is fine.

You may also have been taught to leave a space before and after the text in parentheses.

Please don’t do this: ( sci-fi, historical, and fantasy )

Do this instead: (sci-fi, historical, and fantasy)

Having said all this, if you stray from a precise adherence to the guidelines, do not worry!  I will edit to best meet the style guide without interrupting your personal style.  It is far, far more important that you get your ideas across than that you decide not to contribute because you are having difficulty with the style guide.

The style guidance ensures a bit of uniformity in appearance.  Editors will tell you that this eases the reader’s ability to absorb your ideas without being distracted.