One of my goals with this site is to become an industry uncle for writers and websites. At some point, I want writers to come here looking for places to write, and we want websites coming here looking for writers to fill their staffs.
In that vein, I have a ton of great connections that I’d like to take advantage of, which would help aspiring Fantasy Football writers.
Since Fantasy Sports writers come from every walk of life, rarely through Journalism school, we thought we’d take this opportunity to offer some writing tips to help non-writers become better Fantasy Sports writers.
Big Help from Editors
Over the past 10 years or so, I’ve been associated with several real news-desk editors. These are guys that have worked at large sites as editors, and they’ve seen every imaginable mistake. So I asked them to give us some quick hits on common mistakes Fantasy Sports writers make.
Craig Ellenport worked on the desk at DFSEdge.com, and used to edit at NFL.com and Newsday, among other places. Here are his favorites:
- Man vs. men: This is by far the biggest issue I’ve encountered with writers. Many of them use “first basemen” — even when referring to just one first baseMAN.
- Possessives: I often see writers use possessives such as “the Met’s pitching staff” when it should be “the Mets’ pitching staff.”
- Its vs. it’s: Possessives are always a problem, so IT IS no surprise that they use the apostrophe for the possessive “its.” Only use apostrophe when it’s is a contraction.
- Proper names: One common problem is not using a player’s full name in first reference. Along those lines, some writers have a habit of referring to players with their full name more than once. Other times, second reference is by first name — and not iconic players such as LeBron or Michael.
SI.com‘s Eric Mack went to Syracuse University and once worked the news desk at CBSSports.com, and I asked him to share some thoughts on hyphens – both the absence and overuse of them.
- There’s the “hot dog bun” rule, created by the late Craig Stanke. Compound modifiers are usually hyphenated, unless they end in -ly or satisfy the “hot dog bun” rule. Since “hot dog” is an entity itself, it doesn’t qualify as a compound modifier. You wouldn’t write “hot-dog” bun for that reason.
- Also, you wouldn’t hyphenate. “This was a moderately interesting tidbit of information.” But it was “a tiny-bit interesting.”
- “Then vs. than” and “there vs. their vs. they’re.”
- Knowing that Jackson’s does NOT mean “Jackson is.”
- Sticking with ‘s: Don’t use it after names ending with an “s” and never use with plurals of numbers (1980s, TDs, HRs, etc.).
- Using commas: I don’t understand why writers have such a hard time using them to separate thoughts: introductory, two complete thoughts joined by a conjunction, etc. That includes avoiding run-on sentences with too many phrases.
- Stop using “has had,” it’s terrible grammar. Example: “He’s had tremendous success this year,” or “Jackson has had trouble scoring.” Just reword it.
Doug Anderson was another one of my editors at DFSEdge.com and RotoExperts.com.
- My biggest bug-a-boo is not being concise. If you can say it in fewer words, then do it. With most writers, I can go through and eliminate a ton of words that served no purpose.
- Another thing that drives me crazy is passive voice. If way too many unnecessary words aren’t enough, then they start going all Yoda. Use interesting and active verbs and make things concise and people will stick it out until the end of your piece even if the info is all wrong.
Random Rules to Help Create Better Fantasy Writers
So over the past year or so, I created this list of tips. My credentials, by the way, are that I went to USF, and I wrote at CBSSports.com as a Senior Fantasy Writer for five years before becoming the content manager at OPENSports.com. I’m currently writing Fantasy Baseball and Fantasy Football at SI.com and at FantasySports.About.com.
- Never use a semicolon: In general, the semicolon indicates a greater separation of thought and information than a comma can convey but less than the separation that a period implies. Most writers THINK they know how to use it, but they don’t. So stay safe – and never use it. No one will miss it.
- More often than not, you can eliminate the word “that” from your sentences.
- Rarely is there punctuation before or after the word “because,” yet there is usually punctuation bookending words like “therefore,” and “however.”
- “This is because of the fact that RBs are valuable.” – should just be “This is because RBs are valuable.”
- Don’t write, “I think” or “I believe” – whatever prediction you write is already assumed to be what you think and believe.
- Keep the quotation marks outside of punctuation, 99 percent of the time.
- It’s ’90s — not 90’s
- Dos and Don’ts – not Do’s
Remember that you want readers to notice the content of your writing, and not mistakes or bad sentence construction. In order to become better Fantasy writers, we have to make it look effortless. It’s not as hard as you be thinking!