Middle-Pause founder and visionary leader, Debbie Walker just interviewed me for an upcoming episode of our Podcast, STOMP (Stronger Together on Middle-Pause). She asked me many thought-provoking questions about my writing, comedy, and faith, allowing me to shine my light on things near and dear to my heart.
She also asked me about my approach to editing here on Middle-Pause. Actually, I offered the question ahead of time, as part of the prep for podcasting.
Now I’m sharing it here on Middle-Pause, hoping to encourage more of you to write for us, as well as encourage our writers to submit more often.
So here goes…
I read your post entirely from start to finish before making any notes.
If you’re a new-to-me writer, I usually check out your profile. This gives me a feel for who you are, the topics you cover, and if you’re new to Medium.
I share basic information on formatting and Medium preferences I’ve learned over the past year. If you writer’s comments are any indication, I’m patient, gentle, and encouraging.
You just don’t know what you don’t know. And we can share the information we have with you. We’re glad to do so.
I’ve been blessed to take workshops with Shaunta Grimes and Ashley Shannon, which include formatting basics as well as tips on what curators, now distributors are looking at and for.
Something as simple as incorrect title/subtitle formatting could mean the piece doesn’t even get read by a human. The algorithm thingy eliminates them right off the bat.
We can avoid that. That’s why I start with formatting.
The title needs to be in title case; the subtitle in sentence case with a period at the end.
Every picture tells a story.
The photo should be in the middle of the three settings — small, medium, large, choose medium. Makes sense since that’s the name of the publication. But also, like Goldilocks, not too big, not too small, this one is just right!
Horizontally-oriented photos are preferred over vertical. But what if the perfect picture only comes in vertical? Medium does look at the connection between the title and the photo, which says to me if that fantastic photo is the very best one to complement your piece go for it!
Not all photos have those options.
Just make sure it’s not the one that wraps around your text for the main photo. Those are okay later on in the story. And if you do illustrate your story, three seems to be a good number for photos in the body of the text. Do keep them within the column width of the story.
Keep in mind when selecting photos, it does not have to be a literal illustration. Reflecting the mood or tone is often more effective.
Do break up your story with subheads.
You can also use the three dots, but subheads help your reader track where you’re going in your story. Or if they’re looking for a specific area of info, it makes it easier to find. This is the most common editing comment I make. You do not need both, so pick one.
Now Medium wants subheads in the big T title case. If it’s a full sentence, punctuate it. If not, capitalize each major word in it. If you need a sub-subhead, use the smaller t for those.
Paragraphing is a big concern on Medium.
In general, Medium prefers lots and lots of white space. It’s easier on the eye and compels readers to keep reading. Notice if you tend to stop or slow down your read when you hit a long paragraph.
But there’s a practical reason, too. Something like 60% of Medium readers access the site on cell phones and other small devices. So a long paragraph is a scrolling nightmare.
So, the shorter, the better. Ideally, four to six lines max. Remember, breaking up is not hard to do in this case.
Despite what you might have learned in an English composition class, one and two-sentence paragraphs are fine.
This is an informal style. Imagine you’re chatting with your reader directly. Given this, sentence fragments are fine — Grammarly to the contrary. I use them a lot. All the time. They’re great for emphasis.
Do run your post through Grammarly or a similar program. It saves time on both your end and our end. We appreciate that. And it’s free.
After the formatting, I dive into the content.
I look at the flow of the piece. Does it move clearly from beginning to end? Is anything confusing? Redundant or circular? Are the points illustrated with examples?
Does the piece start with a personal story to hook readers in?
This is the second most common editing comment I make.
Not all stories lend themselves to this, but If at all possible, please include something personal about the topic. It’s one of the best ways to engage readers. Even this technical piece has a personal intro about my interview.
Think of the line — Does this ever happen to you? What happened in your life such that you’re now writing a piece on this topic? Why do you care?
Your engagement is contagious. The reader can’t connect to your topic any deeper than you do. So the reason you’re writing this piece at this time undergirds your words. Let us see that if you can.
At the bottom of your post, we invite you to include a brief bio. You can include links to your profile, social media sites, etc. Please set it off from the body of your text with the three dots.
Each piece is unique, so the kinds of comments I may make vary quite a bit. If I can think of any way to make it flow better, be clearer, or more personal, I will suggest that be done along with my ideas as to how.
I usually offer my notes as invitations and suggestions. Unless something is a Medium no-no, you, as the author, have the final say.
And FYI, we prefer no profanity. Badass is okay since many of us are! The “f” word is not. I appreciate how understanding you writers are when we have to ask for these kinds of changes. So thank you — you know who you are!
For the record, we also don’t take fiction or erotica. Poetry is fine if it’s related to our mission and topics.
Sometimes a post is not a good fit for Middle-Pause.
It may be too salesy or not within the bailiwick of what Middle-Pause covers. If so, we will let you know.
There are many pubs on Medium, so your piece may find its perfect home elsewhere. Do not get discouraged. And do send us something that fits within our wheelhouse.
Finally, Middle-Pause would not exist without our wonderful writers. Our editorial hats are off to all of you!
We editors will continue to do our best to help every piece we publish be the best it can be. We were proud of our high curation rate and expect that to continue under the new distribution system.
So keep those stories coming. And if you haven’t submitted something yet, please do. We aren’t nothing without all of you!
If you’d like to join the Middle-Pause conversation, please request to be added as a writer. To do this, send an email to email@example.com and include your name, your Medium profile link, a sentence or two about what you’d like to write for Middle-Pause. And please see the Submission Guidelines below:
Marilyn Flower writes political humor and satire to delight socially and spiritually conscious folks. She’s a regular columnist for the prison newsletter, Freedom Anywhere, where she writes about faith and prayer. Five of her short plays have been produced in San Francisco. Clowning and improvisation strengthen her resolve during these crazy times. Stay in touch!