Writing for Conservative Futures: Tips and Tricks
If you’re joining us here at Conservative Futures, you already love to talk about politics – and you’ve probably had a lot of experience doing so online. But effective political writing is a skill, and we want Conservative Futures to be a place for you to develop that skill. If you follow these guidelines before you start on your first submission, you’ll help us by requiring less editing, and you’ll help yourself to become a better writer.
A good post for Conservative Futures should use this basic framework:
- Describe the problem.
- Explain how our opponents are mishandling the problem.
- Explain why a free-market solution is better.
That last step is the most important of the three. It’s easy just to complain; it’s more valuable to offer an alternative. If your only recommendation is “Don’t do that,” you may not have thought the issue through enough. Challenge yourself!
A good post should include the following:
- A story. Your argument has a better chance of landing if it packs an emotional punch. Who is being affected by the problem? Where? How? Having a real-life example takes your argument from theory to real life.
- Facts and figures. You don’t need too many numbers – you’re not writing a master’s thesis. (Not for us, anyway.) But show the reader that you’ve done some research. If you’re writing about a piece of legislation, read it. Think about which statistics will demonstrate how many people are impacted by a policy. Back up your facts by linking to the source in the text of your post.
- Quotes. You can never really know what motivates a politician, so your best bet is to rely on what they’ve said out loud. Quotes provide much-needed context to the problem you’re discussing, especially from the people causing the problem.
- Visuals. We like to include at least one image to introduce each article. Feel free to include one or two more in your text, if they bolster your argument. It could be a graph, a map, or a photo that relates to the story you’re telling. Make sure to note the source of the image. (If you’re using Google Image Search, make sure you’re allowed to use it by clicking on “Tools” on the search results page and selecting “Labeled for reuse” under the Image rights tab.)
- A call to action. What should someone (specify who) do to make your solution happen? What should we (Conservative Futures supporters) do to pressure them? Your argument shouldn’t end when your post does. Give us something to do about it!
Conservative Futures is first and foremost a campaign site, so you should always write with a fighting spirit. That means your posts should be:
Readable. Don’t assault the reader’s eyes with massive blocks of text. Break up one long compound-complex sentence into clauses. Break up an eight-line paragraph into two four-line paragraphs, each discussing a specific point. The fewer words you need to make your point, and the shorter those words are, the better. We’re writing for voters, not for bureaucrats.
- Active. See the difference between “The idea was proposed by Finance Minister Bill Morneau” and “Finance Minister Bill Morneau proposed the idea”? The second sentence tells you right away who is responsible. Since you’ve already told us what the idea is, we can now focus on who came up with it.
- Human. You have opinions and feelings and values behind your argument. The reader should be able to tell what they are without you saying so. The right words can express anger, hope, dismay, happiness, sorrow or worry. If you feel something, the reader should feel it as well.
- Relatable. You can assume most readers at Conservative Futures are at least as politically aware and solidly libertarian as you are. However, they’re going to bring our ideas to ordinary voters later. And most ordinary voters care more about policies and decisions affect their day-to-day lives. Make the connection clear.
On the other hand, your posts should not be:
- Overly broad. A writer should know and care who is responsible for something. Let’s go back to that idea Bill Morneau had. We assume some people support it. Who’s the best person to attack? Morneau? Liberals? “Some”? Focus on the person or group who you know is responsible. Their supporters should feel the force of your criticism if you've described the problem properly.
- Too personal. A story, especially one from your own life, can support your argument. It should not be your argument. That’s what LiveJournal is for.
- Immature. We don’t tie ourselves in knots trying to be 100% politically correct. But if your language gets in the way of your argument, we’ll need you to edit it. If you have a problem with that, you’ve come to the wrong site. Anything goes on 4chan; at Conservative Futures, we only post what we can use.
- Off-topic. The issue you’re covering should be something people are talking about when you cover it. It should also lend itself to an argument for free markets and less government. Otherwise, why are you sending it to us?
After you’re finished a draft, run your text through this calculator. It should be at a Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level of 6 or lower. If your score is higher than that, simplify your language wherever you can and run the post through the calculator again until you get it right.
If you’re worried that your argument isn’t clear or relatable enough, imagine that you’re making it to the least politically minded person you know. What could you say to get them as fired up as you are?
Think of a speaker or writer you admire and studying the techniques they use to make their speeches and writings compelling. Our choice, of course, is Winston Churchill. Read his memo on brevity to see why he spoke so well.
And, of course, editor Jess Morgan is happy to help at any stage in your writing process. If you’re not sure if your idea for a post is a good one, e-mail her and she’ll work with you to get it just right.